John Laing predicts defeat in hotel battle

Property developer John Laing has conceded that it has little expectation of a victory in a High Court case in which Rosling King is defending it against a £17.5m damages claim by the Great Eastern Hotel.

The case relates to the refurbishment of the hotel in Liverpool Street, London, which was completed in June 2000, a year behind schedule. In a claim issued almost two years ago, the hotel claims that during the refurbishment the site was “in a state of chaos”.

Rosling King partner Helen Thurkettle is leading the team defending John Laing, while Fenwick Elliot partner Richard Smellie is advising the Conran-owned hotel.

The case is currently with the judge, with a decision due later this month.

However, in a note attached to a recent revised set of interim pre-tax profits, John Laing revealed that the directors of the company “consider that the retained liability provisions are sufficient to cover the likely outcome of the trial”.

Adrian Ewer, finance director at John Laing, declined to comment.

It is the first time Rosling King has acted for John Laing, which has used firms such as CMS Cameron McKenna, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Pinsents on corporate matters in the past. Rosling King received the instruction via Axa, John Laing’s insurer.

The work on the Great Eastern Hotel was carried out by John Laing’s former construction arm, which was sold to O’Rourke three years ago. The Great Eastern Hotel contract, though, was one of 13 that John Laing retained liability for.