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Multiplex wins up to £8M in Wembley case

Wembley stadium contractor Multiplex was today awarded over £6M in the culmination of its legal battle with steel fabricator Cleveland Bridge UK, with the figure expected to rise to £8M once legal fees are added.

Judge at the Technology and Construction Court (TCC) Mr Justice Jackson ruled that Cleveland Bridge pay Multiplex £6,154,246.79 in damages, repayment and interest.

This figure is likely to rise as Cleveland Bridge were ordered to pay 20% of Multiplex's legal costs, likely to be as much as £2M.

The ruling marks the end of a four year-long legal battle between Multiplex and its sub-contractor after Cleveland Bridge ended its role as Wembley steel contractor on August 2 2004.

Both the TCC and the Court of Appeal have previously ruled that despite poor relations between the two firms, Cleveland Bridge was at fault for walking off site prior to termination of the contract.

Today's ruling brings to an end the latest case, begun in March this year and based on the previous rulings, to establish how much both sides owed each other.

Jackson ruled that Multiplex did owe Cleveland Bridge £740,103 for steel and equipment the subcontractor left onsite and did not receive back upon completion of Wembley.

However, this was dwarfed by the damages awarded to Multiplex and was accordingly deducted from the bottom line of what Cleveland Bridge had to pay.

In a case where photocopying alone cost £1M, Jackson was critical of both parties.

"The final result of this litigation is such that (when costs are taken into account) neither party has gained any significant financial benefit," said Jackson in his judgement.

"Instead large sums of costs and a large amount of management time have been expended on both sides to no useful purpose...The lesson for the future which may be drawn from this litigation is that parties would be well advised to use the dispute resolution service offered by the Technology and Construction Court in a more conventional and commercial manner than has been adopted in this case.

"Once this court has decided questions of principle, the parties can save themselves and their shareholders many millions of pounds by instructing their advisors to agree reasonable figures for quantum, if necessary with the assistance of a mediator unconnected with the court."

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