Construction negligence and reasonable care


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There is a threefold test for claiming for construction negligence. This is as follows:

  • 1 - did the construction contractor or sub-contractor owe you a duty of care?
  • 2 ‐ was this duty of care breached?
  • 3 - did this breach result, directly, in you sustaining significant financial loss?

In some cases it might be relatively straightforward in building up a case that meets this three-fold test. However, in some claims there is more complexity, particularly when it comes to ascribing liability.

Northumbrian Water Ltd v Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd [2013]

This case serves of a useful illustration of the need for construction professionals to carry out due diligence tests and thorough risk assessments before commencing a project. It shows that where these tests and checks are adequately performed they can help insulate a contractor from professional negligence claims, even when significant problems arise.The case involved a construction company, McAlpine, performing work for Northumbrian Water. However, when a sub-contractor began piling works at the site of the construction project and caused concrete to contaminate and block nearby drains, as well as the sewage system, and affected business, the Co-op notified Northumbrian Water of the problems.Northumbrian Water quickly carried out remedial work to address the problem but then sought compensation for construction negligence in order to cover the cost of this work.The judge hearing the case ruled that McAlpine had taken reasonable steps to investigate the utility services in the area and the impact thereon of the works it was carrying out - the judge also found that Northumbrian Water had in 1988 made its own survey of the site and had not detected the drain.This fact of McAlpine having taken reasonable steps led the judge to conclude that there had been no breach of duty, and the construction negligence claim failed.

Construction negligence claims with Healys LLP

If a construction contractor, engineer, architect, or quantity surveyor has caused you to suffer financial loss because of negligently performed work, you might be able make a claim for construction negligence.Here at Healys LLP our specialist lawyers help the client to negotiate the Pre-Action Protocol process to their best advantage and, where necessary, represent their interests in court proceedings.For clear and realistic advice call our offices in London or Brighton on 020 7822 4106 or email today.

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