29 Jul 2016

Court opens way for leaky school building case

3:48 pm on 29 July 2016

The government is open to settlement of its leaky schools case after the Supreme Court ruled against building supplies firm Carter Holt Harvey, allowing the case to go to court.

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Photo: 123rf

The Supreme Court cleared the way for the Ministry of Education to take Carter Holt Harvey to court over leaky school buildings.

The court today published a decision dismissing the company's attempt to strike out key aspects of the ministry's claims.

The ministry wants to sue the company for negligence related to its cladding product, Shadowclad, which the ministry alleges is defective.

Carter Holt Harvey has been trying to get some of the ministry's case struck out, first in the High Court, then the Court of Appeal where it had some success, and finally in the Supreme Court.

Now the Supreme Court has overruled the Court of Appeal decision that limited some of the case against Carter Holt Harvey, and also decided that a 10-year limit on claims related to building work does not apply.

The ministry started legal proceedings in 2013 and since then has reached settlements with two other companies, James Hardie and CSR Building Products.

The government said it was seeking a significant contribution to the $1.3 billion cost of fixing leaky schools.

It said the ministry was planning to proceed to trial, but was open to settlement discussions.