O’ Keefe Construction is suing contractor Cantillon for £1.4m in a dispute over payment for its work on a luxury hotel on the site of the first ever radio broadcast.

Greenwich-based O’Keefe claims it has not been paid in full for its work on the 11-storey building on the site of the former Marconi House in Aldwych, London. A High Court writ says Cantillon, the main contractor for Spanish company Urvasco’s new flagship Silken hotel, designed by Foster + Partners, has paid O’Keefe more than £4m to date, but about £1.4m remains outstanding.

Patrick O’Keefe, managing director of O’Keefe, was approached by Michael Cantillon, Cantillon’s managing director, in March 2005 to provide a preliminary budget price for groundworks, and O’Keefe produced some “very ball park” comments on cost and programme, the writ says.

Cantillon asked O’Keefe to go “back to back” with Cantillon's main contract, a practice which involves the subcontractor working on the same terms as the main contract, but O’Keefe declined, saying he could not sign up to a main contract which he had not reviewed or seen in its final form, the writ says.

O’Keefe started foundation work on the site in July 2005 without a subcontract agreement, it is alleged. Despite discussions, the two sides did not manage to reach agreement on the scope of the work to be done or its price, and O’Keefe brought foundation work to an end in December 2006.