University in £14m legal battle over brickwork with Laing O’Rourke

The University is seeking compensation to replace outer brickwork across three connected buildings known as the Jean McFarlane Building and University Place.

In a complex legal battle, the University is claiming against architect John McAslan & Partners, main contractor Laing O’Rourke and third-party engineer Gifford Global.

The University claims that John McAslan + Partners breached its contract in relation to designing, and co-ordinating the design of the building – particularly in regard to the design of movement joints in the brickwork cladding.

It also claims Laing O’Rourke’s works were defective and not carried out with reasonable skill and care.

Also it says that JMP is liable in respect of the work defects because it ought to have identified the defects during the project and taken appropriate steps to address them.

The University argues that in order to remedy the defects, significant remedial works are necessary including the wholesale replacement of the outer brick skin on all three blocks.

In 2018 the estimated cost of remedial works was put at £6m. It was said that with other consequential losses the claim amounted to over £10.2m.

By February 2020, the sum claimed had mounted to £13.7m and is now said by Manchester University to be likely to be far higher still.

A first detailed glimpse of the ongoing legal battle emerged in documents forming part of a cost and claims management conference between the parties in the High Court.

The defendants are all contesting the claims.

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