TCC dismisses largest claim

The Technology and Construction Court (TCC) has dismissed its largest-ever claim against an engineer – worth $100m (£49.98m).

Defendant engineering company Ove Arup was previously contracted to claimant construction company Mirant Asia. In an earlier Court of Appeal judgment it was ruled that Ove Arup’s designs were responsible for problems with boiler foundations at a power station in Sual, Philippines. It was held that design assumptions made by Ove Arup needed to be verified on-site to ensure the engineer upheld its duty of care.

The Court of Appeal ruling had wide-ranging implications across the construction industry, specifically for designers and engineers, resulting in a greater onus on the industry in terms of duty of care.

However, Ove Arup says the latest TCC decision shows a reversal in the court’s original position that the firm breached its duty of care.

Mirant was seeking more than $100m but His Honour Judge Toulmin QC in the TCC said there were no grounds for the defendant to pay such a high level of damages. Every ground put forward to justify Mirant’s claim was rejected apart from one – the need to carry out remedial works on the boiler foundations, for which Judge Toulmin woud have awarded $1.4m (£700,000) though he felt that Mirant had already recovered in excess of that sum.

Construction partner Stephen Chessher from City-based construction and employment boutique Beale & Co instructed Roger Stewart QC of 4 New Square in relation to damages for Arup. Partner Tony Bunch from Pinsent Masons instructed Andrew White QC of Atkin Chambers for Mirant Asia Pacific.