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Cleveland Bridge to make last ditch appeal on Wembley ruling

Former Wembley Stadium steelwork contractor Cleveland Bridge (CBUK) is appealing against Monday's High Court ruling which said that CBUK and not Multiplex breached the stadium contract.
CBUK was ordered to pay 80% of Multiplex's legal fees and up to £38M for damages and poor quality work on the project on Tuesday. Exact costs will be decided at a separate hearing in January 2007 unless the parties can reach a settlement before this.Judge Justice Jackson ruled in Multiplex's favour on three major points of contention in the preliminary trial at the Technology & Construction Court on Monday. The case centred on which party was first to repudiate, or fundamentally breach the £60M Wembley Stadium steelwork contract (News last week). Jackson decided that CBUK repudiated the contract by abandoning the project on 2 August 2004. He said that although Multiplex had behaved 'ruthlessly' it was not unlawful.CBUK's request to appeal the decision was thrown out by Jackson. It now has one last attempt to apply to the Court of Appeal. The judge also refused to grant CBUK extra time to prepare for its application for appeal.CBUK's solicitor Martin Scott admitted to NCE this week that he had advised the subcontractor in 2004 that the odds of winning the case were just '60-40' in CBUK's favour.CBUK left the site in August 2004 when it thought Multiplex would not pay up £32.66M for work completed between 26 September 2002 and 15 February 2004.At the time Scott advised CBUK that Multiplex had breached the subcontract by failing to pay the £32.66M and making 'arbitrary' deductions to scheduled payments. Multiplex UK's former construction director Matt Stagg maintained throughout the case that he had never promised to pay the £32.66M as it was an 'interim valuation' which could be revised the following month but CBUK managing director Brian Rogan believed that the £32.66M was a final figure.In his conclusion, Jackson said, 'On this crucial issue, I believe Stag to be an honest witness and wasn't lyingIf the £32.66M had been agreed, then it would have been included in the Supplemental Agreement [the revised subcontract]'. He added that while he did not think CBUK to be dishonest, 'I believe their reconstructed recollection was coloured by what they hoped to achieve'. NCE reported during the case (NCE 18 May) that Rogan had kept no contemporaneous notes, and that this could have affected how his evidence was perceived by the judge.Jackson said he deplored Multiplex's decision to claw back money so that the £32.66M would not be paid and instead CBUK would owe it money. Multiplex managing director Martin Tidd, told NCE, 'We have always been confident that Multiplex acted lawfully in its dealings with CBUK. Today's judgment vindicates that belief'.Ruby KitchingTo read more go to Editor's Choice on www.nceplus.co.uk

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