Multiplex settles claim against Mott MacDonald, the largest in UK construction history

Multiplex and Mott MacDonald have settled their £253m legal row over Wembley stadium, bringing an end to the biggest construction lawsuit in UK history.

The terms of the settlement have not been revealed, but Building understands Mott has agreed to pay Multiplex, now known as Brookfield, a proportion of its legal costs, which are likely to be upwards of £30m. However, there are also thought to be additional elements to the agreement. It is not known whether liability has been accepted by either side as part of the deal.

One source close to the process said: “Multiplex is not going to be left out of pocket by this.”

Multiplex launched the claim against Mott in December 2008 over the engineering designs for the stadium that it inherited when it became main contractor in September 2002. It said they were inadequate, had led it to underbid for the project, and left it liable for legal claims from steelwork subcontractor Cleveland Bridge. Mott responded by counterclaiming and describing Multiplex’s claim as “embarrassing and lacking in any proper particulars.” A trial had been scheduled for January 2011.

The source added: “To do all this and settle in this way shows how futile a process this has been. The only winners have been the lawyers.”

In February, the trial judge, Mr Justice Coulson, made a case management judgment in which he complained about the “unreasonable” legal costs being incurred. He said Multiplex had spent £28.6m by 11 December last year, and expected to spend a further £17m by the end of the pre-trial. About £12m was spent on expert witnesses alone.

Having called for the parties to seek mediation, he said: “In the 25 years that I’ve been involved in construction cases, I’ve never seen costs at such a level. I’m unable to see how such costs could be described as reasonable or proportionate.”

The settlement is understood to include all parties involved in the dispute, including Mott’s subconsultants Sinclair Knight Merz and Aurecon Australia.

In an agreed statement, Mott MacDonald and Brookfield said: “We can confirm that Brookfield and Mott MacDonald have settled the legal proceedings between Brookfield and Mott over the design and construction of Wembley stadium.”