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    JOINT VENTURE SAFETY LIABILITY

    Implications of Buncefield judgment for construction joint ventures

    Shoosmiths solicitors have highlighted implications for joint ventures (JVs) following the High Court judgment on civil liability in the Buncefield Oil Terminal explosion case.

    It is argued that “the judgment has implications for practitioners in terms of health and safety cases, civil liability and commercial/contractual drafting.”

    Advice is provided on practical JV management issues in relation to health and safety practices, as well as operating structure. Shoosmiths suggest:

    • JV companies need to make clear who is operating the site. This must be clear and consistent in all documentation and communication and represent what happens in practice;
    • there should be clear written instructions for JV operations, even for operations thought to be ‘routine’. The paperwork needs to be in good order;
    • JV companies that wish to assign the health and safety responsibilities to the joint venture company must have appropriate policies in place, clearly setting out both the arrangements and responsibility for health and safety and ensure they are implemented;
    • The court will always looks to see who had ‘actual control’, and therefore any policy that sets out the tasks and duties needs to be a genuine reflection of what actually happens on the ground.

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