RPC secures High Court win for Hammerson in £15m dispute
Result brings to an end the eight-year high profile dispute; first reported case on Nickle Sulphide (NiS) inclusions
City-headquartered firm RPC landed a victory in the Technology and Construction Court for clients Hammerson and Aviva after an eight year dispute involving the former London Stock Exchange building on Old Broad Street. The clients have been awarded £14.7m in damages together with significant interest.
The highly publicised dispute concerned glass installed as part of the redevelopment of the building at 125 old Broad Street. A pane fractured and fell from the building in 2009 with a further 16 failures following (six of which fell from the building) before all of the glass was removed. The building contract required that the glass was heatsoak tested in accordance with the relevant British Standard with an extended 'hold' period. Heatsoaking is a process of heating the glass to extreme temperatures causing NiS inclusions present to fail in the process rather than on the building later.
Testing in accordance with the British Standard is recognised as leaving a residual risk of "no more than one breakage per 400 tonnes of glass". The defendants relied on records from their supply chain to evidence of contractual compliance but a number of those records were discovered to have been fabricated, with the remainder supporting a positive finding that 35-40% of the glass was not heatsoaked.
RPC was first instructed by insurer Aviva in 2011, following which the team embarked on a recovery action against the builders (Lend Lease) and their parent company for the costs of temporary measures adopted by Hammerson, settlements entered into with third parties, refinancing charges and the ultimate re-glazing of the building.
An RPC team led by Construction Partner Dan Preston, and including Robert Hogarth, Samantha Thompson, Philippa Lutter-Paz, Ben Wilkins, Becky Taylor, Johnny Orchard and Amber Oldershaw secured the victory for Hammerson.
Dan said: "This is a truly exceptional result and the judgment exceeds all of the clients' expectations. There were many complexities to the case, including the technical issues, late disclosure and the number of parties with an interest in the proceedings."
Sarah Booth, General Counsel on behalf of 125 Old Broad Street, said: "This is a great result, bringing to an end a dispute which has lasted for eight years, during which time the building has changed ownership twice. We have worked hard with the team at RPC to get through some very complex matters and this judgment brings us closure as well as some useful judicial guidance on the NiS process, remoteness of damages, the appointment of experts and the recoverability of third party settlements."
Nick Hill, Senior Claims Manager at Aviva added: "We are extremely grateful to Dan Preston at RPC and his team for their excellent support on this claim. Their hard work, technical acumen and unwavering conviction over the six year period of their instruction delivered an outcome for our customer which we believe was fully and justly deserved. We couldn’t be happier".
The judgment was handed down on Monday 17 July by Justice Jeremy Stuart-Smith.