Engineer Mott MacDonald and architects targeted in fresh wave of litigation from Australian contractor Brookfield/Multiplex

Weeks after Multiplex launched a £253m claim against consultant engineer Mott MacDonald, it has issued a court order forcing staff at architects Foster & Partners and HOK Sport to reveal full details of design changes on the steelwork packages at Wembley stadium, which was delivered 14 months late and £300m over budget.

The £253m, 600 page writ against Mott MacDonald, lodged just before Christmas and one of the largest in a construction dispute, argues that Mott MacDonald’s failure to deliver the steelwork design within budget was the source of later problems.

Building Design and Building this week report that Multiplex – now known as Brookfield Construction – has filed papers at the High Court demanding access to the architects’ staff. According to the papers, Multiplex has been given access to written records, but is seeking direct interviews to carry out a “full and systematic review”.

Mott MacDonald is understood to be arguing that the design changes at the heart of the dispute were down to decisions made at Foster & Partners and HOK Sport.

Construction lawyer Patrick Perry of law firm Barlow Lyde & Gilbert told BD that the court order could be a precursor to further legal action against the two practices.

“If Mott MacDonald’s defence is that changes were initiated by the architects, then that raises the prospect that Multiplex might bring a claim against the architects in relation to their design services,” he said.

In a leader article, BD called Multiplex’s move a “sign of the times. Attempts to claw back costs on a project by slapping a law suit on the architect are likely to multiply.”