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Construction Legal advice

In this case DTM Legal’s Construction Team advised and acted for the successful claimant, Cartwright Pond Limited. The claim is a classic example of how when things go wrong they can go badly wrong. The key lesson to be learnt is to take professional advice early on and ensure contracts are put in place.

In December 2014, the Defendant, Ms Wild, purchased a 1970’s property requiring modernisation in Goostrey, Cheshire. In 2017 Ms Wild decided to undertake alterations to the property and instructed an architect to produce a specification and various plans as well as a structural engineer to produce calculations. Cartwright Pond, was appointed contractor.

The project started in July 2018 but there was little in the way of contract or contract administration between the parties.  Ms Wild did not instruct her architect to act as contract administrator.

Due to continued changes in both the material and design of the project over time the proposed completion date was inevitably missed. This led to discord between the parties with Cartwright Pond being eventually dismissed by the Defendant following disagreements on a number of matters including:

  • The terms of the contract.
  • Who was responsible for the delay occurring before termination of the contract?
  • Who wrongfully repudiated the contract?
  • Cartwright Pond’s claim for variations and loss of profit; and
  • The defendant’s claim for defects, costs of completion and damages for delay.

Legal proceedings followed and Jim Morris and the Dispute Resolution team at DTM Legal were instructed by Cartwright Pond. Having initially instructed two solicitor’s firms, Ms Wild decided to act as a litigant in person.

Cartwright Pond argued that Ms Wild wrongfully refused to comply with the terms of the contract and that it was entitled to the balance of the contract price including variations for the works undertaken and its loss of profit on the remaining works. In reply, Ms Wild contended that Cartwright Pond was guilty of delay and defective workmanship, that its conduct was repudiatory and that the claim for a balance including variations was overstated. The defendant insisted that Cartwright Pond was not entitled to a loss of profit and that instead Ms Wild was entitled to her delay related losses flowing from the repudiation and the costs of completing outstanding work and rectifying defects.

After 4 days in Court His Honour Judge Stephen Davies handed down judgment on the 5th day in favour of Cartwright Pond. The Judge ordered Ms Wild to make a payment of a principal sum of £51,000.

In the proceedings Cartwright Pond had made a Part 36 offer which the defendant failed to beat at trial. As a consequence, Ms Wild was ordered to pay interest at a penalty rate plus additional damages and costs. The court ordered Ms Wild to make an interim payment on account of costs to Cartwright Pond of £115,000.

This case is an example of the importance of agreeing a written contract and instructing professionals to ensure that projects are properly managed. The consequences of not undertaking these relatively straightforward steps at the outset of a construction contract can be very painful.

The case has received significant interest and has been widely reported.

For construction advice please contact Jim Morris at jim.morris@dtmlegal.com

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