05/01/2022

Disputes can become incredibly technical, especially when they relate to claims about defective work. In this case study by Disputes Partner Karen Elder we look at what happened in the case of a subcontractor that we acted for who was sued for work that they had carried out on a care home. The case went all the way to the High Court.

The problem: A subcontractor was sued for carrying out defective work on a care home. They denied this and made a counterclaim for not having been paid for their work. Things became even more complicated when the claimant tried to add to the allegations against the subcontractor a decade after the work had been completed.

The solution: We acted for a mechanical services installation subcontractor in a complex specialist High Court litigation defending a claim for alleged defective and omitted works at a care home.

There were many technical areas of law covered in this lengthy litigation spanning four years but of particular note, in the spring of last year the claimant attempted to introduce new claims for defective design over 10 years after the works had been undertaken by our client.

The case in question revolved around work carried out by our client in 2010-2011. The claimant, who was the main contractor, alleged incomplete and defective works, while our client made a counterclaim for sums outstanding on its final account.

Further controversy arose when the claimant attempted to amend its allegations four years after the court process began, claiming that the fire dampers that had been installed had not been correctly designed and that our client should have warned the claimant that the dampers were different from the original design.

We opposed the amendment forcing the claimant to apply to the court for permission to amend and argued, amongst other things, that the dampers did meet the agreed specification and, due to limitation, the claimant was out of time and not entitled to make the amendment.

Expert Counsel appointed by us, presented compelling arguments at a day-long hearing undertaken remotely and successfully defeated the introduction of the new defective design claim in the sum of some £850,000.

The outcome: The High Court Judge found in our favour disagreeing with the claimant’s argument and deeming the requested amendments relating to the fire dampers as having no prospect of success. Needless-to-say, the client was delighted with the result.

Value to client: Our expertise identified the limitation issue promptly and resulted in the successful opposition to the claimant’s application to amend its claim.

Cases like this can be protracted and hinge on technical legal arguments which is why it’s so important to have an experienced dispute resolution team acting for you.

If you would like advice about claims or a commercial dispute, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01782 205000 or email enquiry@beswicks.com