Thu, 04 Aug 2011
Considers s14A of the Limitation Act 1980 which acts to extend the general principle that claims in negligence must be commenced within six years from the date when the damage first occurred.
The dispute arose from a domestic build on the Claimant’s residence which had commenced in 2000. Part of the works included the construction of a basement room beneath the rear garden. In the period 2000-2002 the Claimants engaged Brooke Architects, Attwell and Associates (structural engineers) and Aquarend Limited (as water-proofing contractors).
Structural work on the “Garden Room” was commenced in 2001 and carried out by Concrete and Clay Underpinning. Subsequently the room developed serious problems with flooding. The Claimants terminated their contract with the contractor and engaged, upon the advice of their architects, Aquarend Limited to undertake remedial works. The remedial works were completed in 2002.
Unfortunately the remedial works did not resolve the Claimant’s problems, and water continued to ingress in 2002. By 2007, damp patches had become visible on the ceiling of the Garden Room. By the middle of 2008 the problems had worsened with the flooring and coverings becoming sodden and mouldy.
The Claimants commenced proceedings in 2010 arguing that the Architects and waterproofing contractors had been negligent in term of the advice given over, and implementation of the remedial works.
The Claimant’s pleadings did not make any express positive allegations that the structural engineers had played any material part in advising them over the remedial works. The structural engineers applied for summary judgement against the Claimant on the basis that the claims, framed in both contract and tort, were barred by operation of the Limitation Act 1980. It was contended that the contractual claim ran from the date of the relevant breaches, which were no later than 2002 and the claims in tort ran from the date when serious flooding first occurred- being a period 2001-2002.