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Phase one of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry is complete: what have we learnt and what happens now? (17 December 2018)

Date: 17/12/2018
Duncan Lewis, Legal News Solicitors, Phase one of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry is complete: what have we learnt and what happens now?

Since the Grenfell Tower Inquiry began in May, we have heard over six months’ worth of evidence from fire fighters, control room operators, professional experts and from the bereaved residents and survivors of the fire. Phase one of the inquiry aimed to discover exactly what happened on the night of the fire, whilst the second phase will focus on why the fire spread. Here we look back over what we have learnt so far and what is to come moving forward.

Phase One

During this initial phase we have seen a number of significant changes made across the construction industry, perhaps the most notable being the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) announcement that it would ban the use of combustible materials on external walls of all buildings containing flats, as well as hospitals, residential care premises and student accommodation above 18 metres.

This ban will be delivered via changes to building regulations guidance. It will mean that only materials classed as A1 or A2, under the European Reaction to Fire classification system, will be permissible. As a result the local government will need to pay an increased cost for A1 classed materials such as metal, stone and glass, as well as plasterboard, an A2 material.

That being said, it can be argued that only the least combustible materials – those classed as A1 – should be used due to their non-flammable properties and their status as the highest standard of materials in the industry to stop the spread of fire.

Phase Two

Another significant development heading into the second phase of the inquiry is the change in venue. So far the inquiry has been held at Holborn Bars at Chancery Lane. Many bereaved survivors and residents (BSRs) have experienced difficulties travelling to and from the venue whilst balancing daily household chores and childcare. The decision to change the location of the inquiry is something we have been campaigning for for many months and, although it is not yet specified where, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, chair of the inquiry, has been persuaded to relocate the inquiry to a more suitable location.

As we enter phase two of the inquiry we will be faced with thousands of documents to review and report on to our clients. The hope is that in the interim, Sir Martin Moore-Bick will draft a proposed phase one report for a moratorium – a temporary prohibition – until the final provisions are put in place.

Phase one may have concluded but the inquiry is far from over, and although phase two is not expected to begin until at least autumn 2019, there is still a lot of work to be done in the meantime. With numerous delays having already affected proceedings, many believe that phase two may not even begin until 2020 – three years after the night of the tragedy.

Author: Nilma Shah is a solicitor in the Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence department at Duncan Lewis with over 4 years post qualification experience. She is experienced in a mixed litigation cased load including fast track and multi-track claims and has dealt with a wide range of clinical negligence cases involving misdiagnosis, delay in diagnosis, surgical errors, and birth injury claims.

Contact Nilma on 020 3114 1274 or via email nilmap@duncanlewis.com

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