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Thursday 21 August 2014

Building giants to fight liability as 400 pyrite claims filed

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

Published 20/01/2014 | 02:30

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High Court president, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns

THE president of the High Court has been asked to case-manage 400 new pyrite claims brought on behalf of homeowners whose houses have required work.

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Last Friday, the High Court president, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, was asked to case-manage nine test cases out of some 400 actions moved by insurer Premier Guarantee on behalf of householders who have experienced swelling and cracks in the walls and floors of their properties. Premier is working on homes that have allegedly suffered structurally because of defective pyrite infill used in the construction process.

Defendants in the new claims include, for the first time, major players in the construction industry including Roadstone Dublin Limited and CRH Plc -- which are expected to robustly contest any liability for damaged homes.

Judge Kearns has adjourned the motion to case-manage for nine weeks to facilitate the filing of court papers.

Pyrite is a mineral that expands in the presence of moisture and oxygen, leading to severe cracking and structural problems in buildings. The latest wave of pyrite-related claims comes as the Supreme Court sits today to hear an appeal in a long-running dispute between James Elliott Construction Limited and Irish Asphalt Limited.

BUILDING

The High Court ruled in May 2011 that the presence of pyrite in infill supplied by Irish Asphalt and used in the construction of a building in Ballymun, Dublin, caused significant pyrite heave to the building.

Irish Asphalt, also a defendant in many of the new claims, appealed the ruling.

Following the decision of the High Court, HomeBond -- the building insurance agent -- decided to withdraw insurance cover for pyritic heave damage.

HomeBond's exit prompted the Government to establish the Pyrite Panel, an independent body that reported on the scale of the pyrite problem.

Last October, the Government pledged to spend €10m to assist homeowners plagued by pyrite problems.

Irish Independent

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