Professor Klein is particularly noted for his work in leading campaigns against payment abuse which has been (and remains) a major barrier to achieving a more efficient and productive UK construction industry.
He led the industry’s efforts to secure legislation in 1996 (Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act better known as the Construction Act) to outlaw some of the worst commercial practices, such as pay-when-paid clauses, and subsequently lobbied successfully for amendments to improve the Act. He is credited with achieving the statutory right of suspension of work for late or non-payment. He advised other jurisdictions on their own versions of the Construction Act and drafted the 2013 Irish Construction Contracts Act for the late Senator Feargal Quinn, member of the Irish Parliament.
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. His efforts have seen an increasing use of PBAs with their being mandated for UK government departments and agencies, and by all the devolved administrations (subject to certain conditions). Following the collapse of Carillion he renewed his efforts promote the use of PBAs by drafting a Private Members’ Bill for Debbie Abrahams MP which sought to mandate the use of PBAs for all public sector projects over £½ million.
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 cash flow 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 that he was extremely proud of SEC Group’s achievements over the years: “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.”