Contractors’ spokesperson says more than 450 claimants have settled out of court

Electricians protest at Blackfriars Station

Around three-quarters of blacklisting victims suing big-name contractors for compensation have settled out of court, three weeks out from the full High Court hearing, Building has learned.

A spokesperson for eight of the contractors - Sir Robert McAlpine, Laing O’Rourke, Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Skanska UK and Vinci - collectively known as the Macfarlanes Defendants, said that 458 of some 700 claimants had agreed payouts as Building went to press.

It is thought some settlements have reached six figures, with the full compensation bill running to millions of pounds.

According to the Macfarlanes Defendants, 236 claims against them remain outstanding. Victims group the Blacklist Support Group said it was confident that enough workers would refuse settlements to ensure the contractors face a full High Court hearing.

Dave Smith, secretary of the Blacklist Support Group, said: “The payouts are a big victory for the campaign. But for many of us, this has never been about the money.

“We still want to see the company directors that orchestrated this conspiracy to be forced to justify their actions in the High Court.”

We still want to see the directors that orchestrated this conspiracy in the high court

Dave Smith, Blacklist Support Group

There is no deadline for settlement before the full hearing begins on 9 May, which is scheduled to run for at least three months.

Blacklisting came to light in 2009 when the Information Commissioners’ office seized a database of 3,213 construction workers from The Consulting Association, a firm that was used by 44 companies to vet new recruits.

The payouts agreed are known as Part 36 settlements - if claimants decline a Part 36 settlement and are subsequently awarded a lower compensation sum through the court process, they could then be liable for legal costs, raising the stakes for those determined to take the case to court.

The eight firms known as the Macfarlanes Defendants represent 30 group companies and four individuals. Those not represented by Macfarlanes in the ongoing case include Cleveland Bridge, Amec, Bam and Lendlease.

Around 180 blacklisted workers have settled their claims in the last few weeks for undisclosed sums. In February, Ucatt said 71 claimants represented by the union had settled for a combined compensation worth £5.6m.

The blacklisting High Court action began in 2013 with 86 workers from the Blacklist Support Group. Numbers have since swelled to around 700 claimants represented by four different legal teams.