Thomas v Taylor Wimpey Developments

Citation: [2019] EWHC 1134

The claimants were freehold owners of adjacent properties which they purchased with the benefit of NHBC Buildmark cover. Damages were claimed on the basis of purportedly defective log retaining walls at the rear of the back gardens. The claim was dismissed.

The court found that the builder did not owe a duty of care to the home owners in tort in respect of pure economic loss. There was no exception where a building stood so close to a boundary that it represented a danger to persons or property on neighbouring land.

Lord Bridge’s dictum in Murphy v Brentwood to that effect did not represent the law.

Any misrepresentation claim against the builder was barred by limitation. The claimant sought to rely on the special time-limit for claims of negligence. However, the claimants had not advanced a claim of negligent misrepresentation.

The claimants alleged that defects in the Walls were within the scope of cover provided by the NHBC warranty. The critical question concerned whether the walls were necessary for the building’s structural stability. On the basis of the expert evidence, the court concluded that they did not.

The particulars of claim made no express reference to a breach of the Building of Regulations. Therefore, the claimants could not assert that they pleaded a breach of the Regulations. The Building Regulations did not apply to the log retaining walls. The walls were not part of the houses, but separate structures. Their construction did not constitute building work.


Tom Coulson represented the first defendant.

Samuel Townend represented the second defendant.


Tom Coulson
Samuel Townend KC

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