Mediation Failure Leads to Court Date

When work carried out by a building contractor during a redevelopment project caused damage to the facade of the building being redeveloped, the owner sued the building contractor for the cost of the necessary reconstruction plus the loss in value of the building and other losses that resulted from the delay in completion of the project.

Later, the consulting engineers who advised on the project were also joined in the action.

The total claim was approximately £4.5 million. When efforts to mediate a settlement failed, the consulting engineers sought a ruling of the court as to whether they could or could not be held liable for the diminution in value aspect of the claim (which amounted to more than £3 million of the total claim). They wished this to be decided as a preliminary issue (i.e. before the trial commenced).

The court refused to accept the application. Not only did the court timetable not allow sufficient time for the diminution in value issue to be determined before the trial started, but also the fact that the rest of the claim was still being contested meant that no significant time would be saved at the trial if the issue were decided in advance.

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