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Judgement in sight for Wembley Court saga

Multiplex and Cleveland Bridge will learn next month who owes what following their bust-up on the contract to rebuild Wembley Stadium.

The pair both claim the other owes them money and a second trial to decide how much the two will have to pay was wrapped up last week after nearly three months in the High Court in central London.

Multiplex, now known as Brookfield, is trying to claw back a significant amount of a £12 million sum it paid CBUK prior to repudiation - as well as additional sums for defective works, delays and damages - while its former steelwork contractor wants money back for variations.

Due to the complexity of the case a few small hearings may have to be held with junior counsel to review draft judgements before the court reconvenes at the start of July. A date for the final hearing has yet to be set.

The trial - which has been described by presiding judge Mr Justice Jackson as “excessive” and in parts “clumsily” pleaded - follows the 2006 case which decided that CBUK had breached its contract by unlawfully walking off the job back in August 2004.

Mr Justice Jackson told the court: “There are anomalies in the documents and the exercises we sometimes do don’t always add up to perfection.

“Where there is a mass of conflicting information I will have to look for fair and reasonable ways through it, and ways that are fair on both sides.”

CBUK has also alleged Multiplex saved at least £2 million on the fabricated bowl steel as a -result of the repudiation and asked that this be offset against other claims.

One of the biggest discrepancies in the long-running saga is the total amount of steel used to construct the stadium bowl.

Mr Jackson himself will have to carry out calculations to attempt to settle on the figure as the parties’ estimates are almost 1,200 tonnes apart.

According to Multiplex a total of 17,611 tonnes of steel was used to complete the bowl but CBUK say the figure is 16,412.

The Darlington firm has also claimed that, of that total amount, it had 1,736 tonnes of the bowl steel in fabrication at 2 August - the date of repudiation.

But Roger Stewart QC for Multiplex said only 661 tonnes was sent to replacement contractor Hollandia in the Netherlands.

CBUK’s counsel Adrian Williamson QC said a large amount of fabricated steel had been sent that may not have actually been documented in the figures.

Brookfield alleges Hollandia had to buy an additional 685 tonnes to complete work on the bowl. But Mr Williamson said his client should not foot the bill for what he said was a wholly “unnecessary” purchase.

Mr Jackson will also have to decide whether CBUK should pay back some of the £12 million lump sum it was paid for work post-February 2004.

He said: “There is no clue as to how the £12 million lump sum is divided up.”

Payment had been for a range of jobs, including erection engineering works which were later taken on by Hollandia.

The £12 million was paid to CBUK prior to its breach, and following a £32.66 million payment for works completed pre-February that year.

Mr Jackson said: “If I go down that path [reimbursing part of the £12 million] I need to figure out which portion of the lump sum relates to erection.

“If prior to the repudiation Multiplex had said to CB, ‘as far as erection engineering [is concerned], you are not doing that’, a rather handsome sum would have been deducted from the Ł12 million because erection engineering is such a tiresome thing.”

Mr Jackson also criticised CBUK’s lack of witnesses in regards to the variation work it had to carry out on the project.

He said: “You say how strong your case is on this point, but the people involved in the pre-contract negotiations have not given evidence.”

Earlier in the trial, Mr Williamson argued the steelwork contractor had suffered delays because it was “being handicapped by the number of changes and erratic information”.

Questions over origin of costs incurred by hollandia

Cleveland Bridge’s lawyers have told the High Court that it is “entirely speculative” that the firm’s repudiation damaged the chance for Multiplex to secure a fixed price contract with replacement firm Hollandia.

CBUK’s lawyer Adrian Williamson QC insisted a contract was well under negotiation prior to the firm walking off site in 2004.

He also argued the majority of work undertaken by replacement firm Hollandia following repudiation had been the result of additions and changes in design – not completing tasks or correcting defects left by his client.

As part of its multi-million pound claim, Multiplex – now known in the UK as Brookfield Europe – is attempting to recover monies spent engaging the Dutch firm after CBUK repudiated.

The Australian company said it was unable to secure a fixed-price deal with Hollandia after CBUK’s contract breach.

In the 2006 trial, Hollandia admitted it had been paid £125 million for its work – on top of the £60 Multiplex had already shelled out to CBUK.

In numbers

£32.66m Interim payment made by Multiplex for work before 15 February 2004

£12m Amount paid to CBUK in a lump sum payment for work carried out post-15 February 2004

16,412 Tonnes of steel were used in the finished bowl, says CBUK

17,611 Tonnes of steel were used in the finished bowl, says Multiplex

1,736 Tonnes were in fabrication by CBUK at repudiation

661 The amount of that 1,736 tonnes Multiplex says was sent to Hollandia

174 The amount of surplus steel in tonnes, purchased by Hollandia, identified during the trial

£2m Amount saved on constructing the bowl because of the repudiation, CBUK says

5 per cent of steel waste was allowed for in the tender

7.05percent of the steel ordered was wasted, Multiplex says

£6m The amount in damages that Multiplex can claim for are capped at