Today Francis launched his first Bill: the Defective Dwellings Bill 2021 alongside Minister Catherine Martin, and the two main contributors and co-writers: expert in construction law, Dr. Deirdre Ní Fhloinn BL, and head of planning and environmental law at William Fry, Conor Linehan SC.
From left to right: Dr. Deirdre Ní Fhloinn BL, Minister Catherine Martin, Conor Linehan SC, Francis Noel Duffy TD
Francis presented the Bill at First Stage in the Dáil. The full transcript of his speech can be read below
This Bill aims to make provision for the law in relation to the liability of builders, developers and others involved in the carrying out of residential construction to require that the work undertaken is done properly and in a workmanlike manner, and that proper materials which are fit for purpose are used. It also provides for a framework for legal remedies for those impacted by defective properties.
I thank the Ceann Comhairle for giving me this opportunity to seek leave to add my Bill to the Order Paper. It gives me great honour to be in this position to introduce my first Bill. I would like to begin by thanking those who have assisted me; including Deirdre Ní Fhloinn and Conor Linehan for their monumental work in drafting the Bill, their advice and continued support. I would also like to thank my wife and Minister Catherine Martin for leading on this in the previous Dáíl term, alongside her team, Donál Swan and Aengus Ó Corrain, who successfully introduced a motion which gained cross-party support. I would also like to thank the campaigners and organisations who have long advocated for change in this area, including the Construction Defects Alliance, Apartment Owners Network and more recently, the Mica redress campaigners, all of whom highlight the importance and urgency for robust policy.
This Bill comes at a crucial time when thousands of people are living in defective properties on the verge of collapse, leaving households with bills they simply cannot afford. Priory Hall illustrated the devastating consequences of the gaps in our law which left hundreds of homeowners, tenants, and Dublin City Council in profoundly difficult and stressful circumstances as they dealt with significant costs and economic loss, evacuation, mortgage arrears, temporary accommodation, and the tragic loss of a life. We cannot have any more Priory Halls - homes need to be fit for human habitation and we need a clear robust framework for legal remedies if defects are identified; that’s what this Bill ensures.
In 1972 the UK enacted law to protect homeowners, other jurisdictions across the globe have followed suit. In 1982, the Irish Law Reform Commission recommended that legal remedies should be improved for homeowners, many of whom were left with no redress because of gaps in legal protection that were identified by the Commission in its working paper of 1977.
40 years after the Law Reform Commission proposed its draft Bill, we are here today where this Defective Dwellings Bill incorporates the recommendations of the Commission and brings the proposals up to date with changes in the law since 1982. This Bill will provide homeowners with a legal process to gain redress from construction defects and material abnormalities. I would be very grateful, as many others would be if the Government will consider taking on this Bill to second stage to further protect homeowners from defects in Ireland,