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| 1 minute read

Key takeaways from Devonshires' Building Safety Conference - Dutyholders

On 30 October 2023, at the Building Safety Act 2022 (“BSA”) Conference, Lee Russell, Michael Wharfe, and Ellie Fletcher explored the roles of the three main dutyholders: the Accountable Person (“AP”), Principal Accountable Person (“PAP”) and Responsible Person (“RP”).

RPs are required to comply with a whole host of fire-safety related duties under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Those existing duties have been amended and extended under recent legislation including the Fire Safety Act 2021, the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 and the BSA. It is imperative that those who fall within the definition of a RP, understand their obligations and ensure compliance. An offence under the related legislation may result in a prosecution. 

Determining whether you are an AP or a PAP can be difficult in circumstances where there are complex freeholder/leaseholder arrangements. In some rare instances, multiple parties may even fall within the definition of a PAP.  Where there is a dispute or uncertainty surrounding who falls within the definition of a dutyholder, an application will need to be made to the FTT in order to make a determination. We have significant experience in advising clients on the determination of dutyholders and their respective obligations under the legislation. 

The dutyholders’ obligations are extensive and onerous. It is therefore key that building owners, leaseholders, management companies and those who may fall within the definition of a dutyholder:

  1. Determine whether they meet the definition of a dutyholder as a matter of urgency;
  2. Understand their obligations under the various pieces of legislation, and for what parts of the building they are responsible for;
  3. Where resources are not available in-house, delegate roles to a competent third party (although such third party must meet the definition of ‘competent’ and delegation will not relieve a dutyholder of liability);
  4. Ensure adequate internal systems are in place to enable the collation and dissemination of building safety information; and
  5. Liaise with other dutyholders to ensure obligations are met - the touchstones should be co-operation, co-ordination, and consultation! 


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