The long legal battle between Cleveland Bridge and Multiplex over Wembley stadium edged nearer to a conclusion this week after the steelwork contractor lost its Court of Appeal hearing

It is understood that the dismissal of Cleveland Bridge’s appeal against two sections of last June’s High Court verdict means it will be unable to contest two other more serious aspects of that summer’s verdict. These were that it was in repudiatory breach of contract by walking off the site in 2004 and that a valuation of £32.66m for its work to February that year was subject to clawback.

Wembley seats

The ruling is a heavy blow to Cleveland Bridge’s position in the pending damages trial, which is now cleared to proceed. The contractor’s liability for damages is capped at £6m, but it is likely to face a claim of up to £13m from Multiplex when revaluation of its work is considered.

Cleveland Bridge is one of a series of subcontractors suffering as a result of its involvement in Wembley, which will stage its first FA Cup final in two weeks. A Building investigation this week highlights the fate of nine subcontractors from the contract that have experienced difficulty. Five of these firms have fallen into administration.

The entire contract debate is to a great extent a sideshow
of little importance

Lord Justice May

Cleveland Bridge was given leave in January to appeal against the verdicts on valuations and the rigidity of its original contract. The appeal centred on three points: the effect of variations in the subcontract, the question of valuations of those variations and the meaning and effect of certain clauses.

Lord Justice May said the disputed subcontract “must have been regarded as workable” when it was signed but conceded that “the entire contract debate is to a great extent a sideshow of little or no importance.”