Summary hearing at the High Court clears the way for a full-scale trial in the spring

Wembley contractor Multiplex has lost the opening round of its High Court battle with Mott MacDonald, the stadium’s structural engineer.

The court this week refused an application from Multiplex to grant an injunction to force Mott MacDonald to surrender documents detailing changes to the stadium’s design and costs. The ruling has paved the way for a full trial on the issue.

Multiplex is believed to want the documents to formulate a claim against Mott MacDonald over delays to the stadium. This is now likely to be the subject of a second trial between the two – a court battle that insiders predict will be Wembley’s biggest yet.

Multiplex has told Mott MacDonald that it is seeking the papers, which include information on design development, cost calculations and notes of correspondence with client Wembley National Stadium Limited (WNSL), for a number of separate reasons. These are: to pursue an insurance claim against Mott MacDonald for liquidated damages relating to delays, for proceedings against Mott MacDonald, or for legal proceedings against other parties.
During the hearing Mott MacDonald revealed that it had made more than 100,000 documents available to Multiplex, following an adjudicator’s decision that it should do so, but alleged that the contractor had not made a proper attempt to inspect them. It said it ought to have done this before demanding a court order forcing compliance over other documents. It also claims that it may not be able to make certain documents available due to its confidentiality agreements with WNSL.

Mr Justice Jackson only ruled in favour of Multiplex on a minor aspect, saying that the adjudicator had been acting within his jurisdiction in defining the types of documents sought. But he said he was unable to rule on Mott MacDonald’s compliance in a summary hearing based on written evidence. The two parties must now agree on a course of action, likely to be a trial this spring.

Justice Jackson awarded Mott MacDonald hearing costs of £32,000. He said: “Multiplex has failed quite spectacularly in all areas of relief other than on the issue of jurisdiction … To Mott MacDonald, these have been extremely important proceedings.”

n The multimillion-pound legal fight between Multiplex and former Wembley steel subcontractor Cleveland Bridge (CBUK) will resume next week with a High Court trial scheduled to last at least four days.

Damages are still to be settled in the case. The Court of Appeal has also given leave for CBUK to appeal against aspects of Multiplex’s victory in the first phase of the fight last summer.

The trials of Multiplex

June 2006 Five-week trial against CBUK ends. CBUK is found guilty of breach of contract by walking off site in 2004

Oct 2006 Early hearings in case against M&E contractor Honeywell, with four-day trial set for the end of February 2007

Nov 2006 WNSL agrees to pay Multiplex an out-of-court settlement of £36m

Jan 2007 CBUK is given leave to appeal against elements of High Court defeat.
First High Court appearance against Mott MacDonald