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The Canterbury Earthquakes – Lessons for Construction Lawyers

by Donald Charrett

Dr Donald Charrett (2012) 8(2) Construction Law International 36.

The Canterbury earthquakes – a human tragedy in which 185 people lost their lives and severe damage was caused to the built environment – occurred near to and within the city of Christchurch, New Zealand in 2010 and 2011. Eighteen people died in one building (PGC) and 115 in another (CTV). A further 42 people died from the failure of other buildings and many more were injured. The New Zealand government subsequently implemented a Royal Commission, the terms of reference for which required recommendations to be made on: · measures necessary or desirable to prevent or minimise the failure of buildings due to earthquakes likely to occur during the lifetime of those buildings; · the cost of those measures; and · the adequacy of legal and best practice requirements for building design, construction and maintenance related to managing the risks of building failures caused by earthquakes. This article endeavours to highlight what the author considers are the most important issues and lessons learnt from the Royal Commission Report (the ‘Report’) that are of interest to construction lawyers around the world.

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