Pipework firm wins £615k payout over £200m Hull job

Aaron Morby 4 years ago
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A small specialist pipework firm has won a £615,000 payout after a legal battle with main contractor MW High Tech Projects UK on a £200m Hull waste to energy project.

240,000 tonne-capacity waste gasification plant in Hull
240,000 tonne-capacity waste gasification plant in Hull

The legal battle, which hit the high court, concerned payments for labour supply on the late-running Energy Works plant.

Premier Engineering Lincoln claimed that it has been under-paid by about £1.3m, while MW said that it had already substantially overpaid Premier and counter-claims substantial sums

The major dispute centred on the number of hours worked by operatives supplied by Premier and its worksheet claims against MW’s site turnstile data.

Premier was asked to step in when MW fell out with a steel fabricator Engie Fabricom on the job.

Construction of the plant began in January 2016 but the facility missed its initial 2018 deadline for completion.

This saw the small pipework contractor rapidly raise staffing from a dozen men in late February 2018 to about 140 at one point in May 2018.

Payment issues arose when turnstiles data did not tally with worksheets although Premier argued turnstiles did not always function and record workers’ movements properly.

It also argued that some part of their men’s working days were spent outside the turnstiles for a number of reasons including that the office and facilities for food and relaxation were outside the perimeter controlled by the turnstiles.

Justice Stuart-Smith said: “Given the need for MW to try to accelerate and the substantial sums that they were incurring to Premier for its supply of labour, supervision and materials and the level of supervision and control being exercised by MW, I am confident that MW would have known if Premier’s men were simply not working (or available to work) significant proportions of the times that they had been requisitioned by MW and should have been working and for which they were billing week by week.

“And, if they had known any such thing, MW would have been on Premier’s back in no uncertain terms because of their financial need to accelerate.

“Similarly, if Premier’s men had been unproductive because of incompetence or inadequate supervision by Premier, MW would have complained and there would be documentary references to such complaints: but there is not.”

The Hull plant is now operational although client Energy Works (Hull) terminated the engineering, procurement and construction contract with MW High Tech Projects UK in March 2019, and brought in Black & Veatch as principal contractor to oversee its final stages of commissioning.

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