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ASBESTOS REMOVAL CONFIDENTLY CARRIED OUT

CORUS UK LTD -v- (1) CAVENDISH (UK) LTD

(2) CAVENDISH LABORATORIES LTD

(3) WOODS BUILDING SERVICES LTD

(QUEENS BENCH DIVISION 7TH AUGUST 2009)

The Claimant issued proceedings against the Defendants for damages in respect of failure to remove all traces of asbestos from a building owned by the Claimant. On each of the buildings eight floors was a suspended plaster ceiling, above which was a void. Wells had been cut into the ceiling for light installation. The ceiling had been sprayed with asbestos, although over-spray had passed through the wells into the void.

In 1997, the Claimant appointed the first Defendant to remove the asbestos and to carry out rewiring. The work was subcontracted to the Third Defendant. The Second Defendant carried out analytical work.

The First Defendant recommended the total removal of the asbestos ceiling and encapsulating and labelling the over-spray. However, the removal of the ceiling became impractical and an alternative method of removing the asbestos was adopted.

Upon completion, the work was inspected and signed off by the First Defendant and the Claimant. However, in 2007 asbestos fibres were found.

The Claimant alleged that the First Defendant had misled them as not all the asbestos had been removed. The Claimant further alleged that the work had not been carried out with reasonable skill and care and that asbestos had been disturbed by the Defendants.

The Court dismissed the claim, finding that the work had been carried out competently. The asbestos had been disturbed by other work that had been carried out in the building: no guarantee that all the asbestos would be removed was given and the Claimant would have known that it was impossible to remove all the asbestos: even if the work had not been carried out competently, it had not damaged the property.

This case highlights the need to look at the intention and identity of the individuals who gave statements regarding asbestos removal. The Court found that when the undertaking was given to remove the asbestos, the First Defendant clearly intended to exclude trace element and individuals within the Claimants company would have known this.

END