National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside v AEW Architects and Designers Limited

Citation: Costs / Interest: [2014] 1 Costs L.O. 39; [2013] EWHC 3025 (TCC) Substantive Judgement: [2013] EWHC 2403 (TCC) (01 July 2013)

National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside (“the Museum”) brought a claim against its architect AEW, whom it had engaged to design the new Museum of Liverpool, in relation to design problems with a section of steps, seats and terraces in the building. AEW in turn brought an additional claim against its own contractor, PIHL Galliford Try (“PGT”), whom it had engaged to construct these elements, with some design responsibility.

In relation to the steps, seats and terraces, Akenhead J held that AEW had failed to design or procure the design of the steps and seats. Even though reinforcement detailing and placement was the contractual responsibility of PGT, it was up to AEW to provide or procure the provision of the requisite design criteria to enable PGT to design effectively. PGT was also liable, having failed to comply with the construction contract, and having put forward negligent proposals in respect of the steps and seats. PGT was held liable for a 25% contribution to the commonly cause damage.

The award was not to be treated as a debt for the purposes of the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998, and so would only attract an interest rate of 2.5%. As to costs, although the facts would have supported a case for indemnity costs in the Museum’s favour from April 2013 onwards, in light of various failings by both the Museum and AEW, the Museum would be awarded its costs on the standard basis. AEW was entitled to 60% of its costs against PGT, to reflect its partial success on certain issues.

Link to Judgment

Counsel: Jonathan Lee QC appeared on behalf of the Third Party.


Jonathan Lee QC

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