Council leader expresses disappointment at Gorebridge gas ruling

Midlothian Council Leader, Councillor Derek Milligan said he is “profoundly disappointed and frustrated” by yesterday’s Court of Session decision to dismiss the council’s £12 million legal claim against one of two companies advising on a failed Gorebridge housing development.

Homes demolished

Sixty four council homes on Newbyres Crescent and Gore Avenue in Gorebridge were demolished in 2016 after elevated levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) were found in some of the properties in 2014.

Pursuing costs in excess of £12 million

The council had been pursuing consulting engineers Blyth & Blyth for costs in excess of £12 million on the grounds the company had not carried out proper investigations of the site.

Time-barred

However, in a written judgement issued at the Court of Session on Wednesday, Judge Lord Doherty ruled as Midlothian Council raised the action against the firm in September 2018, more than five years after incurring expenditure (reference here is made to the Supreme Court ruling in November 2017, see point 14 of the ruling), the action should be dismissed.

Health and safety of residents paramount 

Councillor Milligan said: “While our focus has always been the health and safety of our residents, we have a duty to pursue the public pound and to try and recover this loss.

Expressed disappointment

“To say I’m disappointed and frustrated by the court’s ruling is something of an understatement. The court’s decision effectively means the council ought to have commenced proceedings before we knew we had grounds for doing so. Indeed, we had effectively run out of time to pursue an action before anyone even knew there was a problem with the design of the development. This seems very unfair.

Far reaching consequences for others

“How could we raise an action in court before we even realised there was an issue? We feel, therefore, the court ruling is harsh. We believe that the consequences will be far reaching for those seeking redress for defective buildings.

Legislation under review

“While we understand the legislation is currently being revised in Scotland, this comes too late to help us.

Taking further advice

“We will be taking further legal advice on how to proceed and if we have grounds for an appeal.”

21 Mar 2019