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Corstorphine and Wright sues contractor in £1 million legal battle

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Practice Corstorphine and Wright is suing contractor Birse Build in a £1 million dispute over a mixed commercial development in Queen Elizabeth Park in Guildford.

The Clerkenwell-based practice is seeking to clear its name after an adjudicator ruled that it was guilty of negligence when working on the scheme.

It is alleged that Corstorphine and Wright had failed to realise that it was working on an incorrect plan supplied by Birse Build, which meant the project was put up in the wrong place.

A dispute arose between the two companies after Birse Build said it was unhappy with Corstorphine and Wright's setting-out information for the development.

Birse Build called in an adjudicator and claimed losses of around £1 million, and the adjudicator found the architect guilty of professional negligence.

Birse Build was awarded damages of £327,912.96, according to a writ issued in the High Court.

Corstorphine and Wright contends that the adjudicator's findings were incorrect, both in fact and in law, especially his decisions over negligence and the amount of the losses.

Now Corstorphine and Wright is seeking a High Court ruling that the adjudicator's decision was wrong, that the architect was not negligent in setting out information for the development, and a declaration that Birse Build is not entitled to the money awarded by the adjudicator. They claim this ruling will be worth around £1 million.

The case concerns a joint venture between Linden Homes and Laing Homes South West Thames, with Corstorphine and Wright commissioned to work on a development made up of a nursery, offices, a shop, and a leisure building.

It is claimed that survey information provided to the architect contained a line which appeared to be an Ordnance Survey grid line but instead this was a rogue line. This line was 150cm away from the correct position of the nearest Ordnance Survey grid line.

The architect now accuses Birse Build of failing to demonstrate the amount of its losses adequately, and says the company caused or contributed to its own loss.

And, the practice claims, if Birse Build had followed its own site engineer's manual, and industry standard practice, and relevant codes and standards in setting out, the error would have been discovered shortly after setting out.

by Ed Dorrell

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