Building understands some defendants have offered out-of-court settlements to blacklisting victims
Some offers of out-of-court settlements made by contractors involved in the ongoing blacklisting compensation case in the High Court have reached as high as six-figure sums, Building understands.
A source close to the case said six-figure sums had been offered by some of the eight contractors, known as the Macfarlanes Defendants, to victims. The Macfarlanes Defendants have not confirmed the claims; and it is not known which have made the offers.
The source said victims were being offered “eye-watering” sums, but said the amounts were considered to be “a long way short of buying anyone out of justice”.
Last week the Macfarlanes Defendants - Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci - made a dramatic “full and unreserved apology” and a number of admissions of guilt in a revised defence issued at the High Court.
Among the admissions made by the Macfarlanes Defendants - so called after the law firm representing them - last week was the recognition of the firms’ involvement in the vetting system. The system was run first through the Economic League and subsequently the Consulting Association (TCA), both now defunct.
Commenting on suggestions of out-of-court settlement offers, a spokesperson for the Macfarlanes Defendants said: “In cases such as this, it is not unusual for defendants to make offers to settle […] we cannot confirm or deny if these have been made to any of our claimants.”
Last week the Macfarlanes Defendants said they hoped the admissions contained in their revised defence would “simplify” the main High Court proceedings scheduled to start in mid-2016.
The firms said they believed the admissions were “the right thing to do” and added that their Construction Workers Compensation Scheme was still operating and offered workers a “fast and simple way of accessing compensation” outside of the court proceedings.
More than 3,000 workers were named on the blacklist and consequently prevented from working in construction until TCA was raided and closed in 2009.
Gail Cartmail, assistant general secretary at union Unite, said the revised defence showed blacklisting had “blighted two generations of construction workers”.
Blacklist Support Group secretary Dave Smith said: “In all honesty they’ve just surrendered and it’s now about negotiating the terms of the surrender.”
The eight firms known as the Macfarlanes Defendants represent 30 group companies and four individuals. Further defendants in the case are not covered by the admissions and the apology, the Macfarlanes Defendants said.
Those not represented by Macfarlanes in the ongoing case include Cleveland Bridge, Amec, Bam and Lendlease.
Amec said in a statement: “We note recent developments in the matter. Amec Foster Wheeler does not operate a policy of blacklisting, nor does it discriminate in its employment policy in any way. A number of Amec entities were historically contained within the list of building and construction firms reported by the Information Commission as having subscribed to the Consulting Association. AMEC plc sold its construction business in 2007, well before the allegations surfaced, and ceased any involvement with the Consulting Association at that time.”
Lendlease has declined to comment and Bam pointed Building to a previous statement, in which it apologised for its “limited involvement in the TCA”, adding the firm was committed to making “appropriate compensation arrangements”. Cleveland Bridge was contacted for comment.