Senior figures welcome out-of-court settlement between Multiplex and WNSL, but fear for the damage already done to the reputation of the UK construction industry
Industry figures this week welcomed news of an out-of-court settlement between Wembley National Stadium Limited and Multiplex, describing the dispute as an “appalling saga” that had caused huge damage to the sector’s reputation.
WNSL, the stadium’s client, and the FA, its owner, agreed at the end of last week to pay Multiplex an additional sum of £36m to complete the project in time for next year’s FA Cup final. The deal, which involves a £70m payment from WNSL offset by a £34m late penalty fine, is intended to draw a line under all remaining disputes on the project. The client and contractor will now work alongside each other to complete the stadium.
Senior industry representatives have welcomed the deal, saying the dispute was hurting the industry’s reputation.
Stephen Ratcliffe, chief executive of the Construction Confederation, said: “It’s obviously a relief that the problems seem to have been sorted out at last. The sad thing is the damage done to the perception of the industry as a whole. It really is an own goal.”
Ratcliffe’s view was echoed by John Spanswick, Bovis Lend Lease’s chief executive and chairman of the Major Contractors Group. He said: “I’m pleased that the parties have reached a deal, as the difficulties haven’t helped the reputation of UK construction.”
Rob Smith, senior partner at consultant Davis Langdon, added that the dispute could have cast a shadow over other large construction projects.
He said: “If it hadn’t been resolved it would have spiralled into a total embarrassment for our industry. We are particularly sensitive now with the Olympics.
“Nobody has won or lost in this. Both the FA and Multiplex have been damaged.”
The deal will increase Multiplex’s contract price to £494m and will cut its losses to £147m. The total cost to the FA has risen to about £790m from an original estimate of £757m.
Rudi Klein, the chief executive of the Specialist Engineering Contractors Group, said the outcome could frighten more clients into choosing best value over lowest price.
He said: “At one time, WNSL were saying it had got a good low price and wouldn’t be doing any deals. The cheapest price was what they cared about, but they’ve been made to eat their words. As an industry, we can be thankful this appalling saga has come to an end.”
Andrew Roberts, Multiplex’s chief executive, said: “We’re very pleased to have reached agreement with WNSL and the FA to put our differences behind us and put all our joint efforts into completing Wembley stadium.”