High Court judge criticises Gurney and Gleeds for flouting court etiquette after last minute out-of-court settlement. Judgement available below.

Two construction companies that settled a court action at the eleventh hour have been criticised by a High Court judge for wasting judicial time and resources.

In court last week the parties, engineer Gurney and consultant Gleeds, asked the Technology and Construction Court judge not to publish his draft judgment because they had settled their dispute after the trial had finished.

Although judge Coulson agreed not to publish his 130-page draft judgment he criticised the companies for not informing the court that they entered into settlement negotiations after the trial.

The case concerned the collapse of part of a £5m terrace of Georgian houses in Knightsbridge, west London, during refurbishment works in 1998 and who was responsible. Gurney, which was the structural engineer, was seeking a contribution from Gleeds, which was the planning supervisor and project manager, under the civil liabilities act.

Judge Coulson said "It is a well known rule of practice that if, following the conclusion of a hearing at which judgment has been reserved, there are meaningful settlement discussions between the parties, the court should be informed immediately."

He said that although he accepted that the parties "were unaware of their obligation to inform the court" he said their failure to do so had wasted judicial time and had an "adverse effect on other TCC users".

The settlement between Gurney and Gleeds came after a series of settlements relating to the same project. In January the Gurney settled with client Pearson Properties Pension Fund, which was claiming in excess of £1.5m for the collapse. Gurney also settled with architect GMK Associates and contractor Styles & Woods Ltd.