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Wembley duo seek way out of court impasse

NEWS - Cleveland Bridge and Multiplex try to clear way for high-level talks over stadium dispute

REPRESENTATIVES from Cleveland Bridge and Multiplex are believed to be trying to pave the way for a meeting between the two warring sides' top brass.

The pair fought a bitter High Court battle over which firm was responsible when Cleveland Bridge left the Wembley stadium project in August 2004.

Earlier this month Mr Justice Jackson ruled that the steelwork company broke the law when it walked off the job.

This week the firm, led by its new legal team Reid Minty, submitted its application to appeal the ruling to the Court of Appeal. It has to present a so-called 'skeleton argument' and will find out whether it can formally appeal Justice Jackson's decision towards the end of next month.

But Construction News understands that a first meeting between Cleveland president Jon Dale and his opposite number at Multiplex, Martin Tidd, is being discussed in a bid to sort out the impasse.

Mr Dale said this week: 'Let's hope we can sort something out and not have to use the lawyers again.'

Last week he called for a meeting with Mr Tidd in an attempt to head off further blood-letting, which could see the two sides back in court next January to thrash out how much money is owed.

Mr Dale said he had not met Mr Tidd so far but added: 'If there's anything to say, we'll say it.'

Both Mr Dale and Mr Tidd were not at Cleveland Bridge and Multiplex when the dispute between the two firms first blew up in late 2003.

But any meeting will come against a backdrop of criticism Mr Dale aimed at Multiplex in a series of press interviews last week. One Multiplex insider said: 'It seems a bit unusual for him to be calling for a meeting and then having a go at us the same time.'

Speaking about the recent four week case, Mr Dale said: 'We thought we were in a very strong position. The judge got a lot of things wrong in our opinion.'

If Cleveland is given leave to appeal, it is expected the hearing will take place some time in autumn.