IN THE FIRST high court judgment on a fire safety defective cladding claim for a high rise building since the Grenfell Tower disaster, law firm, Norton Rose Fulbright, has won the ‘hugely significant’ case for its client, Martlet Homes Limited.
Martlet Homes is part of the Hyde Housing Group, one of the largest housing associations in England, owning or managing circa 50,000 homes in London, Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire, the East of England and East Midlands.
Martlet’s claim against £150m turnover construction contractors, Mulalley and Co Limited, part of the Sheerygreen Group, concerned defective design and installation of cladding manufactured by Sto Ltd, which was installed by Mulalley at four high-rise residential towers in Portsmouth.
The case was first brought to the high court on 11 December 2019 seeking £8 million in damages for alleged negligence and breach of contract in the design and construction of the £14,867,818 cladding works, which were completed in April 2008.
Defective Cladding Claim
Martlet claimed that there were defects in the fire barriers, meaning their effectiveness would be compromised in the event of fire spreading to the cladding system and that they needed to be rectified. They also alleged a failure to properly fix the insulation boards to the external walls; and a failure to properly repair the existing substrate.
The fire barrier and insulation defects were alleged to be breaches of Mulalley’s obligations of both workmanship and design. An ‘alternative case’ asserted Mulalley would still be liable for breach of contract for using combustible EPS insulation boards in cladding the towers.
Despite Mulalley’s wholesale denial of liability for Martlet’s losses, High Court judge HHJ Stephen Davies found that Martlet had succeeded on both its primary and alternative cases, and awarded Martlet substantial damages for the remedial works it undertook to rectify the defects in the cladding system.
The judge also awarded Martlet damages for the costs of the waking watch service put in place by Martlet as a temporary measure against the risks posed by the cladding before its removal.
“This is a significant win not only for the Hyde Group but for many UK building owners facing similar cladding issues.”
Significant Win for Cladding Disputes
According to Norton Rose Fulbright, this is a significant win not only for the Hyde Group but for many UK building owners facing similar cladding issues.
The case will also have wider implications for the construction industry as a whole, as well as the real estate and insurance sectors, as it offers much needed guidance on the court’s approach to numerous significant issues affecting the hundreds of cladding disputes ongoing in the UK today.
Simon Ramsden, partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, said: “We’re extremely proud of the role our team played in delivering this outcome on behalf of the Hyde Group, which we hope will promote the resolution of the many cladding related disputes thanks to the court’s guidance delivered today.”
The Norton Rose Fulbright team was led by partner Simon Ramsden and counsel Amy Armitage, with support from associate Sarah Gosling and solicitor apprentice Jake Burke.