Judge bars contractor from using adjudication to recover costs amid wider £141m legal dispute

The Accolade Park warehouse, the largest in Europe, was built for £41m in 2008

The Accolade Park warehouse, the largest in Europe, was built for £41m in 2008

VolkerFitzpatrick has suffered a setback in its ongoing dispute over problems with the construction of Europe’s largest wine warehouse, after a judge ordered that its efforts to recover nearly £1m in costs from a subcontractor would have to await the outcome of the wider £141m dispute.

Accolade Wines, the tenant of the bespoke £41m wine warehouse in Bristol, is suing contractor VolkerFitzpatrick and landlord and developer Goodman for “defects and damage” to the building, including problems with the slabs and piles.

As Building revealed last year, the total figure claimed by Accolade could rise as high as £141m, including £33m for the cost of remedial works and up to £104m in costs for Accolade to relocate while the remedial works are carried out.

However, VolkerFitzpatrick is in turn suing piling specialist Keller and flooring subcontractor Twintec, which it claims are responsible for the problems with the floor slabs, for an amount to be determined when the extent of any of its own liability to Accolade is established.

Separately, VolkerFitzpatrick is also seeking to recover £850,000 in costs it incurred for tests to the warehouse floor and the subsoil it carried out prior to the commencement of the legal action.

VolkerFitzpatrick argues that the £850,000 cost should be borne by Twintec, because of its “poor workmanship” on the floor slabs.

Last December it commenced adjudication proceedings against Twintec to recover the costs.

But in a judgment, published last month, Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart issued an injunction to stop the dispute over the testing costs going to adjudication.

He said the adjudicator was not “validly appointed” under the terms of the subcontract and ruled that a settlement over the testing costs would have to wait the outcome of the wider legal dispute.

He added: “I am unable to see how it would be either just or convenient to permit an adjudication to continue in circumstances where the decision of the adjudicator will be incapable of enforcement.”

Edwards-Stuart concluded: “This is therefore an exceptional case in which the court is justified in granting an injunction at this stage to restrain the referral to adjudication from proceeding further.”

VolkerFitzpatrick has been contacted for comment.

Twintec declined to comment.