Cometson v Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council and R&M Williams Limited [2014] EWHC 419 (Ch)

Andrew Kearney

21 February 2014

This case was heard in the Chancery Division in Cardiff. It was the first of a number of potential cases concerning ‘Envelope Schemes’ in South Wales. Andrew Kearney acted for the contractor, R&M Williams Limited. The property owner initially claimed direct against the contractor, but the contractor obtained summary judgment on that claim.

The owner maintained a claim against the Council which had arranged the Envelope Scheme. The Council claimed against the contractor. This is thought to be the only reported authority on the nature and scope of the legal obligations which arise out of these schemes. There have been many hundreds of properties renovated under such schemes. Aside from the importance of the legal issues, an unusual feature of the case was that the Judge (Mr Justice Morgan) decided to hear expert evidence concurrently (so called ‘hot tubbing’), and included within the hot tub the expert witnesses for owner and Council and a witness of fact from the contractor. The process worked well , but the trial of liability only still took 8 days. The contractor succeeded on all issues other than some minor snagging, which it would have carried out if permitted.