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Scarborough ponders legal action against sea defence contractor

SCARBOROUGH BOROUGH Council said this week that was seeking advice on 'the merits of pursuing litigation' against contractor Edmund Nuttall over the controversial Scarborough coastal defence scheme.

The information is contained in a confi dential report obtained by NCE and written by the council's head of legal services James Anderson and head of engineering and harbours services John Riby.

The report was due to be presented to the council cabinet on Tuesday.

These are the latest twists in a long running battle between the contractor and the council, who are arguing over the final cost of the coastal defence scheme.

Nuttall wants payment for £55M of work but the council is disputing the cost of the scheme, originally priced at £28M.

Nuttall, the council and the Department for the Environment Food & Rural Affairs are currently debating an undisclosed settlement sum which would conclude the row, but before this can be agreed the council wants to investigate the potential benefit of pursuing litigation.

The cost of the scheme soared following design changes, restrictions on working hours and damage to the mass concrete Accropodes used to defend the coastline (NCE 17 March).

Despite an independent investigation by consultant Cowi into the cracking of the Accropodes, no agreement has been reached on the cause of the damage.

'There is not a consensus on the causes of damage to the Accropodes thus far and resolution of the way forward has not been easy to achieve.

'Short of a determination by a judge in a litigation process it is unlikely that certainty as to the cause of damage to the Accropodes can be achieved, ' states the report.

Since the contract began in 2002 there have been 160 applications for claims against contract variations.

These were being dealt with by a team from supervising consultant High Point Rendell, but the process became delayed due to the vast quantity of information to be processed.

The consultant's assessments were systematically not accepted by the contractor, ' states the report.

The report also states that the council is reviewing whether a claim could be made against High Point Rendell.

'The head of legal services and the head of engineering and harbour services will review with the council's lawyers the background to a number of compensation events that have arisen in this matter to determine whether or not a claim may lie against the council's consultants, ' it says.

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