A key ruling handed down by the Scottish courts is set to drag four others into a multi-million pound legal wrangle between Laing O’Rourke and the owners of a leisure centre hit by a ceiling collapse two years ago.
More than £20 million is at stake in the battle, which follows the collapse at the Xscape Braehead complex near Glasgow in 2006.
That March, a ceiling in the centre’s Odeon multiplex cinema fell in, just days before the entire £70 million complex was due to open.
Braehead owners Capital Shopping Centres and Capital & Regional have already begun legal proceedings against Laing O’Rourke.
A statement released by the pair said: “The cinema opening at Xscape was delayed by 19 months due to events beyond the control of the joint owners. CSC and C&R have filed a claim in the Scottish courts to recover costs and losses.”
But Laing O’Rourke has now won a motion to allow third party notices to be served on four other firms it believes contributed to the collapse.
In a submission to the Scottish Court of Session Decisions, the construction giant condemned Odeon for “failing to ensure that the tenant’s works were carried out properly”.
It also criticised Cheshire firm GF Holding (Contractors) for failures of workmanship and architectural practice Limbrick for failures of design. The pair were both subcontracted to the cinema chain. And Laing O’Rourke also said its own subcontractor Planview was in breach of contract.
Under last week’s ruling, O’Rourke will now be able to bring in all four companies as third parties in the trial.
In his judgement, the Hon Lord Menzies granted the motion despite admitting it would likely cause significant delays to the court case, as well as increasing its complexity and cost.
But he added: “To refuse to do so would inevitably result in further litigation between the defenders and the proposed third parties. This would involve traversing much of the same evidence twice, or possibly three times.”
He said not granting the request would have also left the parties open to the risk that different tribunals could reach a different conclusion, “either on the facts or the law or both”.
The judge added: “It would be easier to achieve settlement of this whole dispute if all the parties to the dispute are represented in the present action.”
Laing O’Rourke declined to comment specifically on the judgement but a spokesman said: “This is a complex and ongoing legal and technical issue which is being dealt with by due process.”
Laing agrees to foot Holyrood costs
News of last Friday’s ruling comes as Laing O’Rourke prepares to foot a six-figure bill for the collapse of a roof beam in the Scottish Parliament chamber more than two years ago.
The firm confirmed it had concluded talks with Holyrood bosses in relation to the incident, which happened in May 2006.
MSPs were evacuated from the main chamber and relocated for several months after a 3.6 m long beam became detached from its steel supporting bracket and swung across the room during a debate.
It is understood Laing O’Rourke has agreed to meet about £570,000 of the costs relating to the incident in an out-of-court deal.
A spokesman said: “The matter is now resolved.”