Although the Darlington company was found to be in breach of contract at a trial two years ago, CBUK lawyer Adrian Williamson QC told the High Court that Multiplex’s discussions with Hollandia predated his client’s repudiation on 2 August – meaning the firm should not be liable for any extra costs in the eventual change of methodology on the project.
Mr Williamson said: “They chose to do so [engage Hollandia] long before repudiation for commercial reasons.
“There was a decision at the very early stages whether Hollandia would take over erection. Hollandia carried out an audit [and were] engaged by mid-May – three months before repudiation.
“After repudiation, but not because of it, Multiplex and Hollandia decided for their own reasons to change their methodology to a quicker, no doubt more expensive, erection methodology.”
Referring to Multiplex’s own documents, he said the Australian firm actually saved money because of the repudiation.
But Roger Stuart QC, for Multiplex, argued there were costs relating to Hollandia’s engagement that should undeniably be borne by its former contractor.
He said: “After 2 August we were left with no choice as what to do. We had to get someone else because CBUK weren’t prepared to do it for us.
“Where we were given no choice, [there is] no reason for disallowing costs we have incurred.”
The two firms returned to court on Monday to determine how much they owe each other. The trial is scheduled to last until the end of April.