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Court deals with £2m claim for damage caused by dangerous cladding.

31st October 2016 by Rob Kelly

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In considering a £2 million claim in respect of allegedly dangerous defects in the cladding of a property in Finsbury Square, London, the High Court has given important guidance on the effect of contractual terms which seek to place time limits on potential liability.

The tenant of the building launched proceedings after a large cladding tile fell into the street from the building’s seventh floor.  Temporary works to make the building safe cost £470,000; it was estimated that the total cost of putting right the problem was £2 million.

The tenant was unable to take action against contractors who had originally installed the cladding tiles because of a contractual term which meant that the claim was time barred after 12 years from practical completion, which had already passed.

The tenant therefore sued engineering consultants who had advised in relation to the initial remediation works, those works not having prevented the tile from falling.  The consultants in turn launched proceedings against the contractors, claiming contributions to any damages which might be awarded against them.

The contractors argued that the claims against them were misconceived in that they too were precluded by the contractual time bar.  In rejecting those arguments, the court held that the limitation clause did operate as a bar to the tenant’s claim but did not operate as a bar to a contribution claim from the consultants.  As a result, contributions could be claimed by the consultants.

Comment: Collateral warranties remain an important tool, particularly for those involved in construction or environmental remediation projects.  No doubt those giving warranties will continue to try to negotiate a short limitation clause while beneficiaries will continue to try to negotiate longer periods.  The case is important, though, in highlighting to those giving warranties that the expiry of the limitation period does not signal the end of all potential liabilities.

If you would like further information please contact Rob Kelly.

This article provides information and comments on legal issues and developments of interest.  The contents of this article do not constitute legal advice, is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject matter covered, and should not be relied on as such.  Legal advice should be sought about your specific circumstances before taking any action with respect to the matters discussed.

 

Rob Kelly

Senior Associate — Dispute Resolution

Direct dial: 01202 377871

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Rob Kelly
  • “Rob Kelly has been absolutely exceptional in resolving this litigation and so thorough in everything and basically gave the opposition a masterclass of his work that he is so good at.”

    Paul Jeffcoate - Contentious Probate Client

  • “I have had the pleasure of working with several members of the team at Laceys regularly over a period of years. I found Rob Kelly in particular, who worked on a successful litigation case for me over a period of several years to be outstanding in all aspects of the work he undertook, and the manner in which he did it. I now consider him a friend. I would not - and have not - hesitated to recommend Laceys to my family and friends, and continue to use them for all legal matters.”

    Dan Collins

  • “ I just wanted to thank you for your great work on the professional negligence case and other cases you have represented Indian Ocean and Tiien through the last few years.”

    Mehdi Vahdati, Director and Proprietor - Indian Ocean (Bournemouth) Limited

  • “A case that was initially very straightforward became difficult and, for me, very frustrating. Rob Kelly's calm, lucid and very professional advice and planning were invaluable and led to a good outcome.”

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    Sunseeker London Limited

  • “I've worked with a fair few lawyers over the years and Rob Kelly is the most on the ball and efficient lawyers I've ever come across. I'm looking forward to working together for many years to come.”

    Roger Woodall CEO - Diamond Sporting Group

Rob practices in two main, complimentary areas of work – contentious wills, probate and trust disputes, and property disputes.

Contentious wills, probate and trusts

More than half of Rob’s time is spent dealing with the contentious aspects of wills, probate and trusts, an area in which he has practiced continuously for over 20 years.  He advises and acts in disputes relating to wills and inheritance, trusts, the duties of trustees and personal representatives, and the administration of estate.

Rob’s practice embraces:

  • Personal representative and trustee disputes (including personal representative and trustee disagreements, removals / substitutions and alleged misconduct)
  • Disappointed beneficiary claims
  • Will disputes (where the validity of a will is challenged on the grounds of undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity, lack of knowledge and approval of the contents of a will, and fraudulent calumny)
  • Financial provision claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
  • Proprietary estoppel claims
  • Disputes about the proper construction, and rectification, of wills
  • Caveats
  • Professional liability claims arising from the preparation of wills and trusts and the administration of estates

He has mediated (either as appointed mediator or as a representative) dozens of disputes involving contentious wills and probate issues.

Property disputes

The other side of Rob’s practice is contentious property work.  This embraces:

  • Residential and commercial landlord and tenant disputes
  • Disrepairs
  • Repairing covenants
  • Possession claims
  • Lease termination and lease forfeiture
  • Dilapidations
  • Service charge disputes
  • Interpretation and enforcement of leasehold covenants

Rob’s style is a mix of listening, asking (tough) questions, diplomacy and reality testing. He’s interested, flexible, and pragmatic. He offers a common sense, realistic approach to assist his clients in searching for solutions to their disputes and brings straight talking and integrity to his work.

Rob is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.  He holds an LLB (Hons) degree in law.  He successfully completed training as a mediator under the ADR Chambers / Harvard Law Project Scheme in June 2006, was one of the first mediators to have been appointed an IMI Certified Mediation Advocate in the UK with a commercial practice, and is a member of the Civil Mediation Council.

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