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Willmott Dixon and Arup sued over flooded labs

The Imperial Cancer Research Fund and Cancer Research UK are suing Willmott Dixon Construction and consultancy group Arup over “severe leaks” found in one of their laboratories in Hertfordshire.

High Court judge Mr Justice Ramsey said the claim “arises from allegations of water ingress into the ground floor and basement of a new building” constructed at the fund’s research laboratory centre at Clare Hall in Potters Bar.

Arup was appointed to the project in the summer of 2001 by the building’s architects – Sheppard Robson – to carry out engineering and design works. This included a geotechnical desk study which allegedly reported that “there was no shallow ground surface water issues expected at the site”.

Willmott Dixon commenced the construction in March 2002 and practical completion was certified on 11 April, 2003.

According to a witness statement filed by the fund, flooding problems have occurred since the building’s completion, “including a severe leak in February 2004”.

Remedial works have been undertaken at the site, but the research fund said they had “failed to adequately address the cause of the water ingress, with the latest flood occurring in April 2008”.

The sums being sought are undisclosed but the research fund has until the end of the month to file its full list of claims with the High Court, following which the case could be listed for trial.

Dispute goes into overtime

The fund has been granted a time extension to file details of its claim, despite allegations the primary limitation period for the design of the works has expired.

It said its case was delayed after an investigation into the flooding advised subterranean opening up works were needed to examine the extent of the problem. It also alleged Arup had “obstructed” its case by not providing evidence when requested.

A detailed claim was meant to have been filed by mid-April, but an appeal against the extension of time has been rejected.

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