Berkeley and Sisk in £4m dispute over east London bridge design flaws

Berkeley Homes and John Sisk and Son are embroiled in a legal battle over who is responsible for design flaws that could cost more than £4m.

The dispute concerns a contract signed in December 2020 for Sisk to build three bridges and a new train station entrance at Twelve Trees Park, Berkeley’s 3,800-home scheme next to West Ham Station in east London.

Berekely Homes was the principal designer for the bridges during the pre-contract services agreement stage, employing architect HawkinsBrown and engineer Atkins.

However, Sisk submitted prices for the works under a pre-contract services agreement, signed in August 2018, and later took over as principal designer at the main contract stage, with the architect and engineer being novated.

Now Sisk says it has found “various errors in and/or omissions from the design” concerning piling works, steelwork, lifts, mechanical and electrical services, and consultant design works to bridges over the Docklands Light Railway and London Underground Jubilee Line.

The design errors are not being contested as part of the court case.

Sisk says the design errors will directly lead to additional costs of about £2m, but that the total additional cost could be more than double this due to delays and disruption they will cause.

Sisk claims Berkeley is responsible for the consequences of the identified design problems. Berkeley argues that in signing the contract, Sisk “adopted the whole of the design and assumed full responsibility for its completeness and adequacy”.

Berkeley is seeking a number of declarations from the Technology and Construction Court, including confirmation of its view that Sisk took on responsibility for the project’s design “without qualification”.

It argues that Sisk should not be entitled to make any claim against it for breach of building contract resulting from errors or omissions in the design of the scheme. It is also making a claim for Sisk to cover its legal costs.

The legal action was launched in the Construction and Technology Court at the end of last month, with Berkeley setting out its claim in a document published last week. Sisk is yet to set out its full case.

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