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Whether the installation of a woodworking machine is a construction operation in the context of the HGCRA’96 as amended

- February 8, 2016

In Fahstone Ltd v Biesse Group UK Ltd [2015] EWHC 3650 (TCC) (18 December 2015) Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart was called upon to decide whether the supply and installation of a computer numerically controlled (“CNC”) woodworking machine known as a Uniwin, used to manufacture windows and similar items, was not a “”construction contract”” within the meaning of the Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 (as amended) (“the Act”), in the context of the Claimant’s application to enforce an adjudicator’s Decision in its favour.

Although the machine was of “substantial size and weight” [48(1)], bolted to the floor [48(2)], took days to install [48(3)], was installed on a specially constructed floor [48(4)], and was connected to (although did not form part of) other plant [48(5)], Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart found it more relevant that the machine stood-alone [52(1)], its fixing bolts could be freed [52(2)], there exists a second-hand market for the machines [52(3)], and there existed hire-purchase agreement for such machines containing provisions for the return to the hirer if not purchased at the end of term [52(4)].

Accordingly, even though the judge’s initial view “…was that the installation of this substantial piece of machinery probably was a construction operation” [53], Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart came to the clear conclusion that the Uniwin did not form part of the workshop, and therefore not of the Claimant’s land, and so the installation of the Uniwin at Fahstone’’s premises was not a construction operation within the meaning of the Act.  It followed that Biesse was entitled to unconditional leave to defend and the adjudicator’s decision was not summarily enforced.

Nigel Davies

8 February 2016


The information & opinions expressed in this article and associated video are not necessarily comprehensive, nor do they represent the trenchant view of the author; in any event this article does not purport to offer professional advice. This article has been prepared as a summary and is intended for general guidance only. In the case of a specific problem, it is recommended that professional advice be sought.

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