Mulalley & Co Ltd v Martlet Homes Ltd
Martlet, a Housing Association which owns 5 tower blocks in Gosport (designed and built between 2005 and 2008), sought damages from Mulalley. They claimed the cladding used consisted of highly flammable expanded polystyrene (EPS wall insulation) and the mineral wall fibre barriers used had been defectively installed.
The Judge decided that the cladding system specified and installed did not comply with the Fire Safety Standards at the time the towers were designed and built. As a result Martlet was entitled to the cost of removing and replacing the cladding as well as compensation for the waking watch it had maintained at the site following the discovery of the EPS and not just the lesser cost associated with the proposed repair scheme for the cladding.
The Judge also rejected the defendant’s claim to repair rather than renew the cladding. This finding would appear to result not from the defendants breaches of contract but the changed landscape following the Grenfell tower tragedy. The judgement turned on a conclusion that Mulalley was responsible for specifying the cladding as well as its installation.
This is one of the landmark decisions that will affect claims relating to cladding being made by freeholders, leaseholders and managing agents in the future.