A round-up of the writs in the Technology and Construction Court, including a punch-up over £45k-a-day delays, a row over the cost of flood damage, and a property deal that turned sour

Alfred McAlpine vs Tilebox

Contractor Alfred McAlpine has taken developer Tilebox to the High Court in a row over a contract that charges it £45,000 a week for delays. McAlpine says that the charges for delay amount to £5.5m – almost half of the £11m cost for the whole project – and is asking the court to declare that they are unenforceable.

The case centres on an office scheme in Guildford, due to be completed in July 2002. McAlpine argues that the money does not represent a genuine pre-estimate of what Tilebox's loss is likely to be in the event of delays.

Amec-Tarmac vs Royal & SunAlliance

Seven construction companies have joined forces to sue insurance firm Royal & SunAlliance in a row over a flood at Manchester airport.

The seven, which trade as Amec-Tarmac Joint Venture and Amec-Carillion Joint Venture, accuse Royal & SunAlliance of failing to meet an insurance claim after floods at the airport in 1998.

They claim that this was wrongful and in breach of contract and are seeking unspecified damages of more than £150,000.

Optima Properties vs Bovis Construction

Bovis Construction is facing a £200,000 damages claim in a row over stone cladding on a property in Richmond, Surrey. Owners Optima Properties claim that the stone cladding on Westminster House in Kew Road, Richmond, put up by Bovis’ subcontractors, is defective and untidy. Optima says some cladding panels retain water, and are chipped and discoloured. It also claims the panels did not include the reinforcement required.

Optima argues that Bovis is in breach of its agreement by failing to use materials and workmanship of the required standards, and by failing to remedy the defects.

Bovis had subcontracted the stone cladding replacement work to Binadon, but Optima says that Bovis is responsible for its work.

Adana vs De Montfort Insurance

Offshore client Adana is suing De Montfort Insurance for £5.9m over a refurbishment scheme in Mayfair in central London.

Adana, which is based in the British Virgin Islands, says De Montfort provided a performance guarantee to building contractor Areen Design Services in 2002. Adana claims that when Areen was sacked for poor performance, De Montfort failed to follow the terms of the contract. Adana’s claim amounts to £5.2m

and the company argues that De Montfort is liable for the maximum amount of the guarantee.

Fairview New Homes vs Spencer Michael

Property consultant Spencer Michael is facing a £600,000 legal battle after it allegedly agreed to buy 10 houses and 17 plots of land. Developer Fairview New Homes (Farnborough) says Mr Michael agreed to buy the houses and plots on a site at Balham High Road, south London, in 2004 but failed to complete the deal.

The writ says Mr Michael owes the balance of £176,277.66 for the 10 houses, and his company, Spencer Michael Consultancy, owes £434,250 for the plots of land. Fairview New Homes says it is entitled to payment of the balance of the deposits, plus interest.

EU watch

Good news for the “new” EU countries in central and eastern Europe: they are widely expected to receive the lion’s share of the next round of regional aid. But the EU rules do not allow them to spend the aid on their greatest social and economic problem – housing.

The former Communist countries have a massive problem with high-rise housing estates. A process of privatisation has brought advantages, but often no arrangements have been made to retain an overall landlord for the blocks and no plans has been put in place to ensure the upkeep and repair of the buildings’ structure, services and common parts.

So is it time to change the rules? Housing ministers think so. They are due to recommend that EU funds be made available for energy-efficiency improvements to the housing stock. They are also contemplating setting up a European housing bank.

In the pipeline

  • The European Construction Technology Platform has been launched with the aim of delivering a more efficient and competitive European construction sector. The ECTP is expected to influence the content of the EU’s next research programme (FP7), which is being designed and is due to start in 2007.

Jill Craig is head of European policy at the RICS’ Brussels office. Email: jcraig@rics.org