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Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10974
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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I have carried out some building work as a sub contractor for

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I have carried out some building work as a sub contractor for a large building contractor. they did not supply any drawings or specification just instructed us verbally on what they required. The ramp we built is now failing due to possible strength issues. The main contractor will possibly be charged for it all do they have any comeback on us.
1. Dear *****, I regret to say that not only will the main contractor have an ability to sue you for your portion of the blame for failing to make the ramp you built sufficiently strong, but also, the customer who hired the main contractor will be able to sue you. This is because, under English contract law, a right is given to third parties for whom the benefit of a contract ensues, to sue upon that contract. In practical terms, this means that the client who commissioned the works, can sue you for whatever portion of blame attaches to you for failing to make the ramp sufficiently strong. Accordingly, I would advise you to put your insurers upon notice of a potential claim, as you should seek to use your insurance to cover any payout on the claim. Be aware that ultimately, there will be some division in blame as between yourself and the main contractor over who is responsible for the redoing/incorrect work on the ramp.
2. In practical terms, this division of blame will be along the lines of what each party was responsible for, in relation to the erection of the ramp. The main contractor will be responsible for the specifications given, the materials directed to be used, any reinforcing required. Whilst you will be liable for the actual quality of the workmanship used in building the ramp, as well as whether it was correctly done. Be aware that both the architect and the quantity surveyor who worked on the job will also potentially bear some element of the blame on the ramp not being sufficiently strong. The architect will be responsible for the design elements and the quantity surveyor for the quality of the material used and whether these were correct.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Does this apply even when the main contractor has not supplied a specification but has advised what they require and we have carried out works as instructed. The main contractor has not supplied a structural survey so the ramp in question has been constructed to the main contractors verbal instruction
4. This applies even where you were only given verbal instruction for the carrying out of the job. However, be aware that in so far as the portion of the blame which attaches, you will bear no liability for the instructions given. In practical terms, what happens is that an expert is appointed to survey the ramp and depending upon what the Expert finds to be the fault which caused the strength defect, each party (yourself as sub-contractor and the main contractor) will then bear a rateable potion of the blame (in money terms) for the work done. Just because you were only given verbal instructions, this does not remove liability for the work done. Similarly, just because you carried out works to the instruction fo the main contractor, this does not absolve you of liability for what went wrong.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The main contractor did not use a surveyor or an architect they basically came up with the idea themselves and we built a good solid structure but obviously they did not account for the loads on the structure. Hence we are concerned now that they will blame us for the problems but our view is we created what was requested to a good standard.
We obviously feel like we have been taken for a ride and feel that the blame is down to the main contractor as all we have done is supply labour on a day rate charge being led by their own project manager who along with the main contractors director was on site daily viewing the construction.
5. In practical terms, you need to get an Expert architect or other professional who is a specialist in ramps out to look at the ramp and determine why there is a strength defect. In essence, you need to prepare your case that you were not liable for what has gone wrong by getting in a specialist who will provide Expert help in defending the claim. Clearly the Project Manager and Director of the main contractor did not know what they were doing. Professional assistance should have been obtained to ensure the ramp was sufficiently strong for the loads to be borne. However, in legal terms, without that Expert professional opinion to back up your case, you will end up with partial liability for the faulty ramp. So get someone hired to examine the ramp and determine the faulty instructions given.
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