Willmott Dixon sues Aecom and Prater over high-rise cladding

Willmott Dixon is suing five subcontractors and consultants as it attempts to recover the cost of fixing defective cladding on a residential scheme in Woolwich, south London.
The original external wall system (EWS) of the 17-storey building, completed in 2014, was defective and did not comply with the Building Regulations or Centre for Window and Cladding Technology (CWCT) standards, the court filing states.

The Kingspan Kooltherm K15 insulation used behind the cladding was “a combustible material”, according to the court documents. In contrast, standard-grade Trespa Meteon rainscreen cladding “was a combustible material and was not adequately fire rated”. The use of K15 with fire-resistant grade CGL Wallplank rainscreen cladding also meant that the EWS “was not adequately fire resistant”, Willmott Dixon alleges, adding that CGL Wallplank cladding did not comply with standards set by the CWCT.

Tesco took legal action against Willmott Dixon in March 2020, but a settlement was reached on 30 April last year, with the contractor agreeing to carry out remedial works at the cost of £46.67m.

It is this figure plus VAT that Willmott Dixon aims to recoup from design-and-build facade specialist Prater and its parent company (and guarantor) Lindner; architects Sheppard Robson; fire consultants Aecom; and approved inspector AIS Chartered Surveyors.

Willmott Dixon alleges that each of the defendants should be held liable for breach of contract in allowing the defective design and construction of the EWS in the first place. It adds that “Prater designed and constructed the EWS containing those defects” by including allegedly unsuitable materials such as K15, adding that the subcontractor was “in breach of both its absolute obligations and its obligations to carry out its design with reasonable skill and care”.

The use of K15 with fire-resistant grade CGL Wallplank rainscreen cladding also meant that the EWS “was not adequately fire resistant”, Willmott Dixon alleges, adding that CGL Wallplank cladding did not comply with standards set by the CWCT.