24 Dec 2013

Leaky building case surprises lawyer

6:22 am on 24 December 2013

A lawyer specialising in leaky building cases is surprised the Government has settled with building supplies company James Hardie because, he says, the case could have set a precedent.

A claim was lodged with the High Court in April against manufacturers that had supplied materials for use in school buildings where problems later occurred with weathertightness.

The Ministry of Education and James Hardie on Monday issued a joint statement saying a settlement had been reached in relation to claims against the company's two New Zealand subsidiaries.

Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye said legal action was continuing against two other parties. Those companies have been named as Carter Holt Harvey and CSR Building Products.

Lawyer Paul Grimshaw said the whole point of the Ministry of Education bringing the case against James Hardie was to set a precedent.

He said it would have allowed the Government to have a clear understanding of the company's liability to all schools and anything else the company has been involved in.

The head of a school in Papamoa, Bay of Plenty, that has had to be largely rebuilt over five years said it is not only supply companies that should shoulder the blame for leaky buildings.

Tahatai Coast School principal Ian Leckie said architects, builders and others should bear some of the consequences.