A round up of the writs at the Technology and Construction Court, including a row over a smart Chelsea pad, landlords in dispute with tenants and two attempts to enforce adjudicators’ awards
Royal London Mutual vs Regus
Office space company Regus is facing an £880,000 damages claim from landlords Royal London Mutual Insurance Society in a row over a project to refurbish four offices in central London. According to a High Court writ, Regus (UK) and its guarantor Regus have paid only £408,325 of a total bill of more than £1.2m. Regus (UK) took a lease on the four properties in 1999 and agreed to refurbish the premises and pay for the work. Regus (UK) and Regus had agreed to pay interest of 4% above base rates on an outstanding sum, it is alleged.
Hanover vs British Refugee Council
Property owner Hanover Securities is suing the British Refugee Council for more than £100,000 in a row over leased premises at Bondway, London SW8. The BRC handed back the property in a dilapidated condition when the lease ran out in December 2001, in breach of the lease terms. Repair work and fees will cost more than £100,000, according to the High Court claim.
Jenkins and Potter vs Midas Construction
Structural and civil engineers Jenkins and Potter Consulting Engineers are suing Midas Construction for payment of £64,531.85 plus interest. The row is over fees for construction of a supermarket in Bridgwater, Somerset. The dispute was settled through adjudication in February, when Midas agreed to pay £53,075 in fees plus VAT and other costs, according to the High Court writ. But Jenkins and Potter claims that Midas has failed to pay.
Hancon vs Enterprise Managed Services
The liquidator of collapsed Sheffield company Hancon Ltd is suing Enterprise Managed Services for more than £181,000. Hancon agreed to provide labour, plant and materials for Enterprise between September 2001 and February 2003. However, Hancon says that after disputes arose, an adjudicator awarded the firm £171,944.97 plus VAT, as well as the adjudicator’s fees of £8,062.50 plus VAT. Hancon is asking the High Court in London to enforce the adjudicator’s award.
Alandale vs Mr Jennings
Alandale Logistics is suing homeowner Paul Jennings for more than £300,000 after he allegedly failed to pay for work on his home at 48 Radnor Walk, London SW3. Alternatively, the company is seeking payment for the work under a quantum meruit arrangement.
Property developer Asprey Homes has launched a legal battle against a pair of landowners in Kent. Asprey Homes is suing Yiltan Kanli and Gulseren Kanli over an option agreement in which the pair granted the developer three months to exercise the option following the granting of planning permission. Asprey says it received notice of planning consent on 1 November 2004, and exercised its option to buy the site on 1 February 2005. It says the Kanlis have refused to go ahead with the sale. Now Asprey is suing the pair for a declaration that there is a contract between them, an order for specific performance, and damages of up to £250,000.
Tendring vs Tensar International
An Ipswich company which has collapsed has launched a £150,000 legal battle in a row over an earth mound. Tendring Construction, in voluntary liquidation, is suing Tensar International for damages for breach of contract and negligence over the design of a reinforced earth embankment for a site called The Mound in Colchester. Tendring says Tensar breached a contract made between the two companies in December 1999.
Five men who agreed to sell their firm Broadway Contracts have launched a £300,000 legal battle in a row over fees. The men say businessman Mark Killingbeck agreed to buy their business for £289,000 in September 2003. But they say he paid only £10,000 and he has failed to make good on a guarantee for the money.
A recent RICS report showed that an influx of labour from countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic has helped to bridge the skills gap caused by sustained growth in construction. Migration from Eastern Europe is much easier since EU enlargement last May.
This news makes it difficult to understand much of the opposition to the Services Directive, the EU proposal to facilitate free movement of services to boost growth and employment. Many fear the shake-up will see workers undercut on wages or conditions by the new EU countries. However, the same RICS report shows that wages have been rising.
With the seemingly terminal decline of vocational training in the UK, the trend towards importing skilled workers looks set to continue. So is it time for the construction sector to be more positive about the benefits that a liberalised services sector could deliver?
At professional level a liberal market ideology is also struggling to filter through. There are still many barriers for British construction and property professionals who want to practise outside the UK. As the EU’s review of the professional qualifications rules moves into its final phase, there is still a lot to play for.
In the pipeline:
- Services Directive: draft report discussed mid-April. Amendment votes July and September.
- Professional Qualifications Directive: Parliament votes in committee end of April.
- Working Time Directive: Parliament votes in May on amendments negotiated by the UK.
Jill Craig is head of European policy at the RICS’ Brussels office. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org