1. In June 2020, the New South Wales legislature enacted the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (NSW) (DBP Act) as part of its reforms to the building industry.
2. The DBP Act is part of the New South Wales government’s response to the national Building Confidence—Improving the effectiveness of compliance and enforcement systems for the building and construction industry across Australia report (the Building Confidence Report), authored by Professor Peter Shergold, AC, and Ms Bronwyn Weir. The recent high profile problems at Opal Towers and Mascot Towers also provided a powerful impetus for reform.
3. Among the main conclusions of the Building Confidence Report was that the accountability of different parties involved in the construction process was unclear and there were insufficient controls on the accuracy of documentation, which made it difficult to ascertain whether the building complied with the requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA).
4. The DBP Act seeks to address that concern by requiring building practitioners to provide compliance certificates as to whether the work complies with the BCA.
5. Further, in addition to imposing those regulatory requirements, the DBP Act establishes a statutory duty of care for any person who carries out construction work. This is the response of the NSW Legislature to a series of High Court decisions over the last 20 years which have limited the common law duty of care owed by builders and others to owners for economic loss due to inadequate design and defective works.
6. These key aspects of the new legislation is discussed below in more detail.