Deliberately hiding incriminating facts can overturn the original position on a limitation defence. If the defendant deliberately hides relevant facts, the limitation clock only starts once the concealment is revealed the courts have confirmed.
In 2015, RG Securities bought a residential block St Francis Tower in Ipswich. The building had previously been renovated between 2006 and 2009 by R. Maskell Limited using cladding which has been alleged to be non-compliant in respect of combustibility. RG Securities wants to recover the £3.6m cost of removing and replacing the cladding with safer material.
RG Securities brought a claim against Maskell under the Defective Premises Act 1972 alleging the refurbishment works did not comply with building regulations and did not have a Building Regulations Completion Certificate.
Maskell applied to the court for summary judgement, arguing that RG Securities’ claim was time-barred under the Limitation Act. RG Securities responded that Maskell had concealed that it did not have a Completion Certificate, which only came to light in May 2018.
The judge agreed that RG Securities had a reasonable prospect of success and refused Maskell’s application for summary judgement. The case will now go to trial.
James Burgoyne, Director – Claims & Technical, of Brunel Professions says that the case is relevant to all professionals. “Deliberately concealing relevant facts means that limitation does not start to run until the claimant is aware of the concealed information. Critically this applies even if limitation had expired before the concealment took place. As such, professional firms could be liable for problems many years after the event if it is held that they concealed relevant facts from their clients.”
A report on the case has been published by Construction Manager.
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