PROFESSOR Rudi Klein is to step down from his role as CEO of the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group from the beginning of 2021.
He will continue to support the sector in an advisory capacity through his own legal consultancy, which will also provide support to industry groups and firms across a range of procurement.
Professor Klein is noted for his work in leading campaigns against payment abuse, which the SEC said has remained a ‘major’ barrier to achieving a more efficient and productive construction industry in the UK.
He also led the industry’s efforts to secure the legislation of the Construction Act in 1996. It outlawed some of the worst commercial practices – such as pay-when-paid clauses. Professor Klein is credited with achieving the statutory right of suspension of work for late or non-payment, advised jurisdictions on their own versions of the Construction Act and drafted the 2013 Irish Construction Contracts Act for the late senator Feargal Quinn.
SEC added that he is generally regarded as the leading UK authority on the use of project bank accounts which ensure that payments for construction SMEs are protected in ring fenced accounts from losses due to upstream insolvencies. Following the collapse of Carillion, he renewed his efforts to promote the use of PBAs by drafting a Private Members’ Bill for Debbie Abrahams MP, whicb sought to mandate the use of PBAs for all public sector projects over £500,000.
Over many years he has led calls for reforming the practice of retentions in the construction industry – a practice increasingly recognised as obsolete and sustained principally for the purpose of maintaining cashflow within companies which withhold monies due to their supply chains. In 2015 he successfully worked with lord Aberdare in the House of Lords to persuade the government to review the practice. The same commitment to reform led to him to draft a Private Member’s Bill for Peter Aldous MP aimed at protecting retentions in a statutory scheme.
In announcing his stepping-down Professor Klein said, “I had a very small team but we were always keen to deliver on a number of priorities that would be of tangible benefit for the majority of firms – mainly SMEs – in the industry. I also had an incredible amount of support from my chairman, Trevor Hursthouse OBE and from the late Lord O’Neill who died in August after having been President of SEC Group for over 15 years.”
Outgoing chairman Trevor Hursthouse said, “Rudi’s determination to cut through the seemingly endless industry reviews, reports and often ignored recommendations and deliver tangible outcomes which bring real benefit to the industry is self-evident. Operating a business in the industry for more than 40 years, I recognise the value he has delivered, especially to SMEs. Working with him as part of SEC Group, I applaud his commitment to his role as CEO and the exceptional work he has done to promote necessary change across the industry.”
Debbie Abrahams MP added, “Rudi has been a tireless advocate to tackle poor payment practices and late payments for decades. His expertise and knowledge on late payments and Project Bank Accounts has been invaluable and he has helped effect real change in pressing the Government to improve payment practices, particularly for small businesses. I look forward to working with Rudi in his advisory capacity as the campaign to tackle late payments, once and for all, continues.”