Judge rules FM Conway is liable for defective Twickenham work

FM Conway and engineering consultant Clark Smith Partnership (CSP) are liable for defective work at Twickenham Stadium, a judge has ruled.

The ruling allows the Rugby Football Union (RFU) to seek £4.4m in damages from FM Conway and CSP after faulty ductwork caused Twickenham Stadium’s roof to leak.

The court case took place in March, with FM Conway defending its work on the rugby ground. It centred around defective renovation works at the stadium, carried out ahead of the 2015 World Cup.

The RFU brought a £4.4m lawsuit against FM Conway and CSP, which accused the construction firms of failing to design and install a watertight system for electric power-transmission cables.

FM Conway argued that it was covered by insurance obtained by the RFU from RSA Insurance, but the RFU maintained that the firm did not have the benefit of cover.

High court judge Stephen Eyre ruled that the policy does not cover the damage to the roof.

The judgement says that if FM Conway “had been co-insured with the RFU in respect of the same risk” then FM Conway would have had “no liability to the RFU in respect of that risk”.

However, the judgement continues: “My conclusion in respect of the extent and effect of the co-insurance here means this principle does not assist Conway, and such liability, as is otherwise established, is not precluded by the co-insurance.”

As a result, the RFU can seek to recover £4.4m from both FM Conway and CSP.

The RFU launched the legal action against the two companies in April 2021, claiming they breached a duty to carry out work with reasonable skill and care.

According to the RFU, issues with the ducting system meant water damaged the cables, costing the RFU additional fees to detect and fix the problems and deal with resulting delays.

CSP undertook the design work – involving the development of a watertight, underground duct system that could house high-voltage cables – while FM Conway won the contract to install the ducting.

In separate defences, the companies blamed each other for the issues at the stadium.

CSP said it completed the design in line with the brief and blamed poor installation of the transmission cables by FM Conway. CSP added that FM Conway ignored its specifications and recommendations when installing the cables.

In its defence, FM Conway said there were “very minor defects” with its work. The company added that the problems stemmed from CPS’s design, which did not require the ducting system to be watertight.

FM Conway added that the RFU was aware that water had entered the ductwork, but still instructed the pulling of cables through the ducts and allowed cables to remain in leaking ducts.

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