Wembley steel subcontractor Cleveland Bridge wins leave to appeal in court battle with Multiplex
The Court of Appeal has surprised the construction industry by giving Wembley steel contractor Cleveland Bridge (CBUK) a chance to overturn its multimillion-pound legal defeat at the hands of Multiplex.
The court has ruled that CBUK can appeal against aspects of last summer’s judgment, which ruled that Multiplex was entitled to recover money on the project and that CBUK breached its contract by walking off the scheme.
The decision, which comes after two appeal applications were rejected, offers CBUK a second chance of turning around its fortunes on Wembley and recovering some of the £12m losses it posted for the year to December 2005, which left it on the brink of insolvency.
CBUK has been given leave to appeal against the general verdicts on valuations and the rigidity of its original contract.
Depending on the outcome of these, the court will decide whether it can also contest two major decisions. These are: that a valuation of £32.66m for its work to February 2004 was subject to clawback, and that it was in repudiatory breach of contract by walking off the site that summer.
News of the appeal comes as Multiplex launched another Wembley High Court action, this time against Mott MacDonald, the structural designer.
The two firms will appear in court for the first time next week in what will be a high-stakes case over design changes. Multiplex had issued a claim over the Christmas period for enforcement of an adjudicator’s ruling.
We lived in hope and got a result. Now we need to see what the judges said
Brian Rogan, CBUK
An insider said that the involvement of Mott MacDonald’s insurers would mean the battle was likely to involve “humungous claims”. He said: “It’s where the fight’s going to be.”
Mott MacDonald said: “This matter involves an adjudication about rights under the contract to access project records. We believe we have complied with the adjudicator’s decision.”
A senior FA source said he was 99.9% sure that the stadium would be ready for the FA Cup final. He said: “Inspections and commissionings are taking place and there are still minor remedial works and inspections associated with the sewers.”
Once this is all completed the stadium needs a safety certificate, which can only be obtained after three or four trial events have taken place.
Brian Rogan, the managing director of CBUK, who is pictured above, said: “We lived in hope and got a good result. Now we need to go through what the judges said.”
Multiplex declined to comment.
Hodge ‘too busy’ to talk to Multiplex about national stadium
Margaret Hodge, the construction minister, has refused two invitations from Multiplex to discuss the Wembley project since she was appointed last May. Documents obtained by Building under the Freedom of Information Act show that Hodge has declined two personal emails from Martin Tidd, the managing director of Multiplex UK, offering to discuss the scheme.
In one email sent on 12 May, the day before last year’s FA Cup final should have been held at Wembley, Tidd offered to arrange a briefing for Hodge on “some of the construction issues that have arisen during development of the stadium”.
On both occasions Hodge's office said she was “too busy” to attend and pointed out that she had visited Wembley previously as employment minister.