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Severfield reaches settlement for Cheesegrater bolt failures


Severfield has agreed a final settlement for bolt failures on the Cheesegrater tower in London, following a legal battle spanning almost five years.

In November 2014, steelwork bolts fell from the 238m tall, 47-storey Cheesegrater, officially known as the Leadenhall Building, less than a year after construction had come to an end.This resulted in a four-and-a-half-year legal battle between parties involved in the project.

Laing O’Rourke was responsible for building the structure in London for project developer British Land, with Arup as structural engineer and Severfield as structural steelwork subcontractor.

In a trading update for the financial year ending March 31, 2019, Severfield wrote: “Following extensive negotiations with all stakeholders, we have now agreed a final settlement for the remedial bolt replacement works at Leadenhall, resulting in no further costs for the group.”

The Leadenhall Building

Cheesegrater bolts one point four image size

Source: Andy Bolton

Bolts were secured with rope to stop them dropping out

Severfield, in its 2015 accounts, wrote off £6M for the costs of replacing the bolts, before the achievement of any settlement concerning the liability for the costs.

Speaking of the settlement, a Severfield spokesman told New Civil Engineer: “The final cost for the group was the non-underlying charge of £6M made back in 2015, so [there has been] no additional cost to the group since then.”

In 2015, remedial works on the structure, which is based at 122 Leadenhall Street in the City of London, took place. This followed tests which revealed that the bolts had  fractured as a result of hydrogen embrittlement. Hydrogen embrittlement is a metal’s loss of ductility and reduction of load bearing capability due to the absorption of hydrogen

In addition to revealing that a settlement had been reached, in its trading update Severfield also explained: “The group’s overall trading performance continues to be in line with management’s expectations. The financial position of the Group remains good and year-end net funds were approximately £25M (31 March 2018: £33M).”

Speaking of its business in the UK and Europe, the firm added: “The order book of £274M as at 1 April 2019 (1 November 2018: £230M) continues to include a high proportion of smaller, lower risk projects which typically have shorter lead times. The order book also includes the first orders secured by our new European business venture, based in the Netherlands. The order book remains in line with our normal levels, which typically equate to eight to 10 months of annualised revenue.”

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