GBF BW/FBF BW

Membership meetings: Ü mark and manufacturer’s liability

The judgment in case C-100/13 delivered by the European Court of Judgment in 2014 and its implications on the precast concrete and concrete products industry were an important item on the agenda of the membership meetings of the Baden Württemberg Quality Assurance Association for Concrete and Precast Plants (Güteschutz Beton- und Fertigteilwerke Baden-Württemberg e. V.) and the Baden-Württemberg Association of Concrete and Precast Plants (Fachverband Beton- und Fertigteilwerke Baden-Württemberg e. V.) held on June 23 and 24, 2017 in Constance on Lake Constance.

The Managing Directors Dipl.-Ing. Steffen Patzschke (GBF BW) and Dr. Ulrich Lotz (FBF BW, GBF BW) informed the members on the state of affairs: The situation at the time of the membership meetings was that the Ü mark on harmonized construction products with CE marking was not allowed owing to the judgment and the subsequent amendments in the Construction Product Lists A and B (Bauregellisten) by the German Institute for Construction Technology (Deutsches Institute für Bautechnik - DIBt) – this applied to most of precast products and pipes, manholes or masonry units; but it did not apply to balcony slabs since they are not provided with CE marking and paving blocks which are provided with a CE marking but do without Ü mark. However, in parallel with the abolition of the Ü mark, the requirements on safety of construction works remain unchanged.

In order to provide all precast concrete plants involved in building construction with as much legal security as possible in the current limbo situation, the industry organizations of the German Concrete Association Road, Landscape, Garden (SLG - Betonverband Straße, Landschaft, Garten), Baden-Württemberg Association of Concrete and Precast Plants (FBF BW), Association of Concrete and Precast Plants in Saxony/Thuringia (FBF SN/TH) and the Northern German Association of Concrete and Precast Plants (VBF Nord) had joined forces and agreed on a common approach: To verify that the offered precast concrete products meet the requirements on safe construction works in consideration of the respective planning and design, they proposed the combination of a voluntary manufacturer’s declaration, a requirements document and the certification by an accredited certification body to the precast concrete plants.

In the meantime, the BFT International trade magazine has received information that the EU has stopped the proceedings in the matter against Germany. The editors will give information on the implications of this new development regarding the labeling practice and the use of construction products in the next editions.

Costs of removal and reinstallation

In addition, the associations agreed on the demand on the EU to withdraw the European mandate concerning the harmonization of designed structural precast concrete components, because the CE marking does not give sufficient information on the applicability of the component in the respective case.

The membership meeting of FBF BW was also concerned with the reform of the construction contract law and the associated regulations with regard to the supply of construction products and the reimbursement of the costs of removal and reinstallation in case of a defective building structure. The association advises the manufacturers of precast components and precast products to obtain a written document from the client/building owner certifying that he has received the product free from defects, on delivery of the products. This exempts the manufacturer from the liability in compliance with the “immediate performance of inspection and notification of defects of a businessman as laid down in section 377 of the German Commercial Code (HGB)”. Only after revealing a latent defect at a later date, the legal situation will be different and the building contractor can hold the supplier liable, provided he can prove that the construction product being accepted as free of defects at first was one of the causes for the occurrence of the latent defect.

The by-election to the board of FBF BW is also important to mention. Rolf Harsch, managing partner of Harsch Bau GmbH & Co. KG, Bretten, Betonwerk Gondelsheim and Lischma GmbH & Co. KG is now member of the board. According to his statement, the entire Harsch group of companies has a workforce of 500 people at present, generating annual revenues of € 100 million; with the precast concrete segment accounting for a share of about € 25 million.

The Quality Assurance Association as well as the Association of Concrete and Precast Plants have sound financial footings. The membership meetings of GBF BW and FBF BW unanimously adopted the respective budget resolution for 2016 and the budget for 2017. It was unanimously resolved to approve the activities of the respective Executive Board and Management Directors.

Due to the sound financial situation, neither GBF nor FBF membership fee regulations were adapted.

Supporting program

The membership meetings were completed by the once again well-organized supporting program: On the first evening, the participants cruised around Constance bay by a pleasure boat and were then expected at Villa Barleben on the lakefront for a cozy dinner. On the next day, a visit of Arenenberg Castle on the Swiss lakeside was on the program.

Text: Christian Jahn, M. A.

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