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Pipe manufacturer cleared in dispute

Pipe manufacturer Johnston Precast has successfully defended the allegation that inherently faulty pipes caused the failure of a water main at Holland Park, London in 2004.

Mr Justice Coulson handed down judgment in the case of J Murphy & Sons v Johnston Precast.

The claim arose following the failure of a water main which caused extensive damage to homes and businesses in the Holland Park area. 

The claimant, Murphy, was the main contractor responsible for the design and installation of the water main. Murphy sought to recover over £4 million it had paid to Thames Water in damages and costs from Johnston Precast, the manufacturer of the GRP pipe.
 
Mr Justice Coulson found that “the evidence points unequivocally” to the cause of the failure being either a void in the foam concrete backfill or alkaline attack, and therefore not the fault of Johnston Precast.

There was no evidence that the pipe was inherently weak and the “crazing” (fine surface cracks) alleged by Murphy was a “red herring” according to the judge.

Johnston and its insurers XL are seeking to recover costs from Murphy.