18th June 2020


Following a 5-week trial in February, March and April 2020, 4 Pump Court’s Simon Hale and Sanjay Patel have successfully obtained judgment in the case of Blackpool Borough Council v Volkerfitzpatrick Limited and ors [2020] EWHC 1523 (TCC).

The case concerned the Starr Gate Tram Depot in Blackpool. Blackpool brought wide-ranging claims that various key elements of the building were defective, claiming c.£9m at trial. Sanjay Patel appeared for the main contractor, Volkerfitzpatrick, and Simon Hale appeared for the specialist steelworks contractor, Caunton Engineering Limited.

The largest single claim concerned corrosion of the secondary structure, which was made of galvanised cold formed steel. Blackpool claimed that the steel would not reach its intended design life. This gave rise to complex questions of construction of the main NEC3 design and build contract, of the interpretation of “design life” obligations, and as to corrosion science that was the subject of extensive expert evidence. On behalf of their respective clients, Simon and Sanjay defeated this claim entirely.

As to the remaining defects alleged against Volkerfitzpatrick, the Court awarded £1.1m, well under 20% of the total amount sought, some of which had already been the subject of admissions in any event.

The trial was disrupted by the effects of COVID-19. Thanks to the hard work and flexibility of the Judge, the Court staff and all the legal advisers involved, the case was concluded using video technology.

The full judgment is now available on Bailii.

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