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Self-certification could prove fatal, warns lawyer

NEWS

GOVERNMENT PLANS to allow self-certification of building control by contractors could lead to an increase in fatal accidents and building collapses, lawyers warned this week.

Dominic Helps, a partner at law firm Shadbolt & Co, claimed that commercial pressures on contractors would force them to put profit before safety.

'It's much better that building control should be in the hands of an independent third party which is truly accountable,' said Helps. 'If you had a student, would you get him to mark his own exam paper?'

The warnings follow the publication of a consultation document by the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions last week on the principle of contractor self-certification for entire construction projects.

The document says that self-certification 'could reduce costs and result in standards of compliance no lower than third party building control'.

Under current regulations some specialist subcontractors are allowed to self-certify their work through schemes run by trade associations. But local authority inspectors monitor compliance to Building Regulations standards for the majority of projects.

Institute of Building Control chief executive Julien Parrot claimed the Government had produced the proposals without prior warning to the industry. 'The proposition that third party checks can be done away with is not based on any calls from industry that I am aware of,' he said.

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