NuGen Properties

Lawyers prepare for RAAC to become the new asbestos

RAAC panels are everywhere

“The liabilities here could be substantial,” says a construction lawyer.

More than 100 schools across England start the new academic year today in temporary facilities after they were told by government just last week that their buildings could collapse at any moment.

The dangers of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete – that it deteriorates from the inside over time, invisibly, and then fails catastrophically – have been known about since the 1990s. What has happened now is that the government has just discovered that it has now been fixing the problem quickly enough. It has turned a crisis into a circus.

Phil Caton, construction law partner at legal firm Aaron & Partners, said: “The government’s recent decision to close schools with RAAC structures raises urgent concerns about safety, liability, and public trust. One glaring issue is the reliance on self-reported questionnaires from schools to identify RAAC presence, without a clear, immediate verification process by the Department for Education. This lack of transparency compromises the accuracy of the reporting and leaves parents in the dark about whether their children’s schools are genuinely safe or even inspected.

“From a legal standpoint, the liabilities here could be substantial. Schools, local councils, and potentially past contractors could be implicated in a series of complex legal disputes over responsibility for material failures or incidents. Given that RAAC was popular between the 1950s and mid-1990s, many original contractors and designers may no longer exist, making it difficult to seek any legal redress or obtain original technical information. This adds complexity to an already challenging situation involving potential legal disputes and public safety concerns.

“There’s an urgent need for a transparent, coordinated approach among government bodies, schools, and construction experts to manage both the immediate safety risks and the long-term legal implications of this matter.”

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