27 May 2021

Further to our update on the outcome of the Lacrosse Appeal, the Court of Appeal handed down its reasons on 12 May 2021 in relation to the reapportionment issue.

The Court of Appeal reapportioned liability so that:

i The architect’s liability of 25% remained unchanged,
ii The building surveyor’s liability was reduced from 33% to 30%,
iii The fire engineer’s liability was increased from 39% to 42% and
iv Mr Gubitta’s liability remained at 3%.

The Judges observed that whilst it may appear they have simply reassigned the reduction in the building surveyor’s share of the apportionment to the fire engineer without increasing the architect’s share, the figures arrived at reflect the views the Court had formed about each party’s relative responsibility.

The Court of Appeal confirmed its task was to perform the exercise of determining the apportionment of liability afresh, having due regard to the Tribunal’s findings and conclusions.

The Court found that the fire engineer sits at the top of the hierarchy by a clear margin from the building surveyor and the architect, but the building surveyor bears a not insignificantly greater responsibility than the architect. The figures they arrived at reflected the Court’s views in relation to these matters.

The reapportionment provides for a reduction in the building surveyor’s liability of only 3%, not the 11% reduction that the building surveyor sought. The architect’s share of liability remains at 25% which is pleasing.

The only outstanding matter to be decided by the Court is the question of payment of the Appeal costs.