Solicitors takes issue with Sheerness Port

The Lappel Bank of Kent's Medway estuary is back before the courts. It was previously the subject of a 'jobs v wildlife' battle over the effect extending the port of Sheerness would have on local wildlife.

But this time the litigation, which is in the Official Referee's Court, is over alleged non-payment of fees for work undertaken for the port.

Plaintiff Stephen Bird Associates, from Staplehurst, Kent, is a multi-disciplined architectural, engineering and surveying practice which has been involved in completing many successful schemes in the south east. These have included work for the ports of Sheerness, Chatham and Shoreham.

Stephen Bird's action is against Port of Sheerness, a subsidiary of the Liverpool-based Mersey Docks and Harbour Company. It is claiming settlement of fees regarding feasibility studies and projects at the Port of Sheerness, damages for determination of its services without reasonable notice, and a declaration over entitlement to be paid for services on a percentage of the final account value of the Lappel Bank Project.

The law practice acting for the plaintiff is Maidstone-based Quality Law Group member Argles & Court, and the case illustrates the increasing use of regional solicitors in construction-oriented litigation, a sector traditionally dominated by London firms.

The matter is being handled by Nigel Gamble, who, after leaving his post as an in-house lawyer with Norwich Union, joined Argles & Court, with the specific purpose of expanding this side of its business.