Reasonable Decision Confirmed by Court of Appeal in House Defects Case

When the owners of houses that were built on piles discovered that the walls of their properties were cracking, they established that the reason for the problem was that the piles underpinning their houses had settled. The piling had been negligently carried out in both design and construction.

Although the cracking was not indicative of structural defects, the houses were difficult to sell and to mortgage. The house owners claimed compensation from the builders. The court awarded them damages amounting to up to 32.5 per cent of the cost of their homes, despite this being a larger sum than the appropriate amounts calculated by experts.

The judge had not accepted a claim based on the cost of re-piling the properties, but had made his calculations on remedial works necessary for the owners based on the premise that they would be unable to move for 20 years.

The builders appealed, but the Court of Appeal ruled that the judge’s calculations were within the ‘reasonable band’ of assessments of the loss. The Court will rarely overrule a decision made by a lower court that is reasonable taking into account all the circumstances, even if it would have come to a different conclusion.

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