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Bank charge

Litigation between The Bank of East Asia and Tsien Wui Marble Factory and others over the deterioration and failure of granite cladding on a bank in Hong Kong has set a legal precedent in UK construction law, says Roy Kinnear. The importance of the decision was somewhat overshadowed by the handover of the territory last summer, he says.

The action, between the building owner, contractor and consultant over responsibility of the cladding was settled when the consultant accepted that design of the cladding had been inadequate to cope with fatigue and that it was still responsible for the structure, even though the building was originally constructed in 1983.

Arguments centred around long term responsibility of the cladding, and through Sandberg's research, commissioned by the building owner, long term fatigue was accepted as the source of the problem. Kinnear says the judgment means that ignorance of the fatigue of cladding materials may no longer be an acceptable excuse in the event of long term failure. This is turn may lead to a new acceptance criteria for cladding, he says.

The decision is currently being appealed by all defendants.

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