Industry insight: Brexit and the construction industry

Industry insight: Brexit and the construction industry

Sarah Schütte of Schutte Consulting Limited sets out her top ten observations and predictions as to how ‘Project Brexit’ will impact on the construction and engineering industry. Among other things, she looks at market access, labour and skills availability and the effect on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

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So, Brexit is going to happen. It’s official. The Supreme Court has spoken and Parliament has voted. Our Prime Minister has declared her intention to trigger Article 50 by 31 March 2017. Given that the House of Lords is still to be persuaded, that’s a tall order. Uncertainty continues. But no business can put its operations on hold. So what does all this mean for the construction and engineering industry?

Many of my previous articles have talked about the need for good planning, solid project management support, and consultation with stakeholders (see News Analyses: The future of portfolio, project and programme management—part 1 and part 2 and Stakeholders—managing the challenges and opportunities). Brexit is a 'project'. A big one, certainly, and a long one (maximum 2 years under Article 50, subject to any agreed extensions of time), and it has lots of moving parts, needs constantly revising and has a requirement for agility. A project like this is a nightmare for the best planners and project managers!

For legal advisers too, Brexit presents a huge challenge. How can we support clients at this time, who feel in limbo? The 10 observations and predictions made in this article follow an unscientific straw poll of my industry clients and contacts. Continuing the project management parallel, they are all 'project risks'.

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About the author:
Sarah Schütte is an independent UK-qualified solicitor-advocate and runs her own legal and training consultancy, Schutte Consulting Limited, based in London, UK, whose motto is "Making law work for the construction and engineering industry". Sarah has 19 years’ experience as a specialist infrastructure lawyer, including 12 years working directly for industry. She has developed a niche practice in project management, project controls and the law (PPM and P3M and PMO). She works with clients, contractors, professionals and supply chain delivery partners as a whole life project advisor, and supports them with training workshops and project facilitation sessions. SCL’s clients are based in the UK, USA and South East Asia, in addition to close collaborations with organisations in several other countries. Sarah speaks French, German and Spanish as well as English. 
Sarah focuses on putting law in its practical and purposive context: she equips her clients with the accurate knowledge and essential skills for confident and competent contract management, which tangibly improve delivery outcomes. Sarah is a regular conference speaker and media commentator. She writes the “Industry Insight” column for LexisPSL UK, is accredited by several industry and ADR associations, and contributes probono to industry initiatives to promote excellence in project delivery and the use of technology to control risk and facilitate governance. She collaborates closely with global Chapters of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the UK Association of Project Managers (APM). Since 2016, Sarah has chaired the UK User Group for a USA-centred global project controls software company.
Sarah’s professional interests include ethics, behavioural science and collaboration, and how projects are influenced by individual behaviour and organisational culture. Her site boots and hard hat are always to hand.