2020 New Year, New Rates & Old Problems

2020: We suspect the following re-pricing by Kier, the submission of increased invoices, is widespread.

07/01/2019 Area 6 & 8 (Kier Highways) claim. CMA Ref: Y01A196

A lamp post was struck and apparently damaged. It remains unknown whether the head unit, luminaire, suffered damage in the incident or was removed for later replacement (or was due to be replaced). Whilst attendance appears to have been prompt, the works were delayed and to date, neither Kier Highways nor Highway England has evidenced the repair i.e. that the damage was sufficient to necessitate repair and in turn that said restoration occurred.

The specification of the original lamp has not been disclosed and the new unit, likely a more modern component*, is not clearly described. It is also possible the unit was due to be replaced.  There were planned works to occur at the location.

*sodium lighting is commonly replaced with LED

Kier priced the claim attendance and reinstatement using the NSoRC claiming the ‘total third party claim cost @ 2019 prices to be £5,388.27. This appears excessive. Whilst mindful NSoRC provides composite rates arrived at by averaging, the components associated with each aspect appear excessive and the rates associated with each, to date, withheld (refused). There also appears to be obvious areas of duplication. 

The original claim correspondence and that following were lacking.  We were provided with an IMF and DAS (both for attendance) but nothing about the restoration works, save for demands and that repair was taken in conjunction with planned works.

The invoice was broken down as follows: 

  1. Make Safe and Restore Traffic Flow – £801.00
  2. Management or Supervision or Administration Duties – £662
  3. Temporary Traffic Management – Inside Lane Closures- £1289
  4. Repair of Signs (Illuminated) – £1,873.02
  5. Steel road lighting columns and brackets – £732.83
  6. Debris disposal – £30.45

We have not one item of correspondence indicating the works have been completed. 

Planned Works
As an example of duplication, we have raised the issue of ‘planned works’ i.e. scheduled maintenance at the location.  It remains to be seen whether the works due to be completed was the replacement of the old columns or luminaires (sodium).  This may account for the absence of claim-specific documentation on the date of reinstatement. 

But works were planned at the location and judiciously Kier had apparently arranged for the column/lamp to be attended to in conjunction with the pre-arranged attendance.

  • So, why are we charged for Traffic Management?

Planned works require planned Traffic Management [TM], paid for by Highway England. 

Highways England, having suspended the NSoRC, explained:

We will revert to pursuing claims based on the actual cost of carrying out the repairs and will continue to explore options for a transparent and equitable set of rates.

  • What will happen to claims that have already been submitted using the NSORC?

Any claims that have been priced under the National Schedule of Repair Costs will be re-priced using actuals and re-submitted.

But Kier has never used ‘actual cost’ when billing Third parties, they have only ever used the schedule of rates when billing Highway England. It is therefore unsurprising Kier Highways have elected to use another set of rates, one as yet undisclosed, their ‘CECA-based’ schedule. Kier’s lawyers, Corclaim, has written:

Please find below the wording that is to be sent to the third party insurers when you are dealing with the new KSOR pricing claims.

The claim previously presented to you was priced using the National Schedule of Rates implemented by Highways England. Highways England have taken the decision to suspend the National Schedule of Rates and therefore all previous offers of settlement in this matter are immediately withdrawn.

Our client now claims the sum of £8,336.18 for the diminution in value of property measured by the reasonable cost of repair resulting from the above incident. A breakdown of the amount claimed is attached which is based on a Kier Highways schedule of rates that is calculated with reference to the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) rates.

Needless to say, we have sent a full response within 14 days of the letter.