A FINAL RULING on complaints made against piling specialist Roger Bullivant to the Federation of Piling Specialists is expected next month.
Bullivant has drafted in solicitors Edwards Geldard to fight its case after complaints by five FPS member firms about its novel precast piling system were partially upheld in November.
The complaints came after a number of structural failures associated with the RB Precast Pile came to light in June. The complainants alleged the failures damaged public perception of the piling industry and that use of the pile involves undue risk.
Bullivant's solicitors have written to FPS members reminding them of the confidentiality of the complaints process and have also noted to the FPS that a judicial review could be sought if any appeal process was considered to be unfair.
The FPS is understood to be concerned at the prospect of any legal action because of its minimal assets.
The RB pile consists of singly reinforced precast sections connected with a unique glued joint which is cheaper than conventional mechanical joints offered by competitors.
The spigot joint is not designed for tensile or lateral loads and strict conditions for use are specified on the product's British Board of Agrement certificate.
Rival FPS firms, none of which use glued joints, claim the product involves excessive engineering risk which can result in failures. Bullivant maintains that its pile is a value engineered product and offers a cheaper solution when used appropriately.
The FPS complaints procedure - a central plank of a new registration scheme established to guarantee quality to clients - was triggered immediately on its introduction in August by FPS members Aarsleff, Van Elle, Stent, Expanded Piling and Cementation Foundations Skanska, which lodged complaints about the RB Precast pile.
But FPS needs to set up a new appeals panel because three of members of its standing appeals panel are employed by firms which made the complaints triggering the inquiry.
The fourth is immediate past FPS chairman and Roger Bullivant director John Patch.
Bullivant and FPS chairman Graham Wren said a new independent panel should be formed. With a four-week inquiry period, a ruling should be forthcoming in February.