Legal Duties of the Client in a Project

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  • Topic: Construction, Project management, Architect
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  • Published : March 17, 2013
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Legal duties of the client
The ‘client is an organization or individual for whom a construction project is carried out’ (HSE publication L144, 2007:13). In this case, the Wembley stadium is owned by an English football’s governing body, The Football Association (The FA), specifically by their subsidiary Wembley National Stadium Ltd (WNSL). It may be thought that clients don’t have to involve in the health and safety duties as designers, workers or contractors do. However, this is not the case. Clients have to take part in these duties as much as the rest of the participants in the project. As a client, WNSL had a big influence over how the work was done. Nevertheless it must be said that the client does not have to conduct detailed checks of the safety during the construction. This is the duty of the contractor and/or the designer. Clients have to verify that the initial project management arrangements are maintained.  It is known that there were some health and safety problems: in March 2006, a temporary roof support fell resulting in the evacuation of the workers and delay of work. The client is not directly responsible of this accident, but it is in his hands to provide a good health and safety plan (designbuild-network.com) The built of the Wembley Stadium was a large project that lasted more than 30 days. Thus, it was notified under CDM 2007 (Construction Design and Management), what involves some more legal duties to take into account. Knowing all this information, the main duties of WNSL as a client were: 1. Mark Pole et al state in Industry Guidance for Clients (2007:16) the importance of verifying the competence of the architect (Norman Foster), contractors (Multiplex) and other members that are involved in the project, (i.e. consultants, steel construction…). Participants have to be ‘adequately resourced and appointed early enough for the work they have to do’ (HSE publication L144, 2007:16)

2. Provide information in advance (pre-construction information), especially to the architect and the contractors. WNSL was responsible of obtaining relevant surveys for the services or other relevant information. As there are a lot of existing stadiums, WNSL could have provided the current health and safety file and operating manuals of those stadiums, just to give the designer an initial idea (The Construction-Design and Management-Regulations 2007 No.320, 2007:6) In addition, the Wembley Stadium was built in the same place of the old Stadium. This implies the demolition of the old building which leads to several health and safety risks. WNSL, as the Client, has to provide health and safety information for this task prior to the beginning of the constructions duties.

3. Give enough time for each stage of the project, taking advice from the architect or the contractors if necessary (HSE publication L144, 2007:15). ‘A rushed project is likely to be unsafe and of poor quality’ (Want construction work done safely? INDG 411, 2007:2). The aim of the project was to build a state-of-the-art national stadium and host large events such as Cup Finals, music events and athletics. This requires taking plenty of time to do things correctly ensuring that the place is safe for such a crowd.

4. Co-ordinate the work so it does not affect the safety of those doing the job. As a client, you need to inform well the construction team so they can know the risks of their tasks, and also how to make it in a safe manner. (Want construction work done safely? - INDG 411, 2007:2). For example, probably WNSL had to warn of possible hazards such as the presence of asbestos during the constructions tasks.

5. Co-operate with the contractor discharging him of some duties. Mark Pole et al state in Industry Guidance for Clients (2007:16) ‘Do not expect the contractor to manage all risks, otherwise you will inherit more at the end of the works’. Building a Stadium is a huge project, and the contractor can’t manage every single thing...
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