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Time is of the essence

30th May 2018 by Rob Kelly

Categories: What's New?

Does time for bringing a contribution claim begin to run when the extent of the remedial works was agreed in principle or when the settlement agreement was formally executed?

This was the question for the High Court in R G Carter Building Ltd v Kier Business Services Ltd [2018] EWHC 729 (TCC).

In 2001/2, R G Carter Building Limited built a new science block at Boston Grammar School. The science block was designed by Kier Building Services Limited. The block suffered problems with the ingress of water into the building and the client, Lincolnshire County Council, brought arbitration proceedings against Carter. The arbitration proceedings between Lincolnshire and Carter were settled in 2015 on terms that Carter would carry out remedial works at its own cost. The scope of the remedial works was eventually agreed on 25 June 2015 and a binding settlement agreement was entered into on 29 June 2015. Subsequently, on 20 September 2017, Carter issued proceedings against Kier seeking an indemnity or a contribution of over £200,000in respect of the cost of the settlement with Lincolnshire.

Kier argued that the claim was late because the remedial works were agreed by 16 April 2015, or 27 April 2015 at the latest, and it was therefore commenced outside the 2-year limitation period for contribution claims. Carter argued that there was no agreement as to the remedial works until Kier and Lincolnshire signed a settlement agreement on 29 June 2015, and that the claim was therefore brought in time.

The court ruled in Carter’s favour; the negotiations leading up to the agreement had been conducted on a subject to contract basis, and Kier and Lincolnshire had proceeded on the understanding that nothing was agreed until there was a binding agreement. Time therefore only began to run when the agreement was finalised and on that basis the claim had been brought (just) in time and it could proceed to trial. Kier’s limitation defence failed.

Tight time limits often apply in litigation and those who do not seek advice promptly are taking a serious risk that their valid claim will be defeated.

If you would like further information please contact Rob Kelly on or 01202 377800.

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. Questions relating to this article should be addressed directly to the author.

Rob Kelly

Senior Associate — Dispute Resolution

Direct dial: 01202 377871


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.”

    Don Young

  • “Their Fee Management was exemplary and the expertise provided by Rob was exactly what we required.”

    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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