Associated Newspapers Limited, the owner of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, is embroiled in a multi-million insurance dispute relating to the alleged failure of foundation work at its £13m printing works in Thurrock, Kent.
The newspaper group alleges that in 2015, just three years after the printing works were completed, defects started to appear at the site, linked to the settling of concrete foundations into the weak alluvial subsoil problems at the site are so severe that it may have to be closed so permanent remedial works can take place, it is alleged.
In a complex set of legal disputes, Associated Newspapers is suing the structural engineer and one of the main contractors on the site, Buckingham Group. Buckingham Group is countersuing a group of insurance companies, seeking a declaration that they are responsible for any losses, as the insurers provided cover for the engineering firm that produced the original plans for the site, a company that has since gone into administration.
While the size of the overall claim has not been detailed, it is likely to stretch to several million pounds. Associated Press has valued its outlay on temporary remedial work together with professional and legal fees at over £650,000. Other potential losses, including the cost of permanent remedial work, business interruption claims and reduction in the value of the site due to contamination by asbestos have been identified in the claim, but not valued.
However, the Associated Newspapers claim warns: “In the event that it is not technically or physically feasible to undertake the permanent remedial works in phases, such that the Property has to be closed in order for those works to be carried out and completed, the interruption of the Claimant’s operations at the Property would be extremely damaging for the Claimant’s business.”
Buckingham Contractors has hit back stating any liability should rest with the group of insurers who provided cover to the company that designed the building work. These insurers, defendants in the Part 20 claim brought by Buckingham Contractors, include Amtrust Europe Limited, Zurich Insurance Plc, Liberty Mutual Insurance Europe SA and a group of Lloyds underwriters.
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