It’s not enough to show that a Consultant was negligent in respect of advice given or not given. It is also necessary to show on the balance of probability that the breach of duty caused the loss or damage and that the loss or damage was not too remote.
In 199 Knightsbridge Development Ltd -v-WSP UK Ltd (2014) pressure surges in a high rise block of high class flats had fractured cold water pipework causing serious damage.
WSP were the Consultants on the new cold water system.
By mid 2004, at the latest, WSP should have appreciated that water could travel up the risers at velocities considerably more than 3 metres per second even if only one pump was working. They should also have realised that the water would be entering a partial vacuum, causing unusually high pressure surges that could damage pipework and fittings.
WSP should have enquired about this with the pump manufacturers before they commissioned a booster set in July 2004, and asked what could be done to prevent the failure that had arisen in the foreseeable circumstances which had occurred.
They would probably have been told to arrange for there to be a slow fill procedure. They would also have been told that there was a new type of valve called an anti-surge valve which could protect the pipework in the event of excessive surges in pressure, but that testing of this valve was still in progress and was unlikely to be completed possibly well into the following year.
The damage which occurred on 15 September 2005 could only have been prevented had those valves been installed.
Even if WSP had arranged for there to be a slow fill procedure, and even if this procedure had been clearly and obviously displayed in the plant room, the Claimant had failed to prove on the balance of probability that it would have been adopted by those who were in the plant room on 15 September 2005 who decided to start the pumps again.
The manufacturer did not, until about July 2005, tell WSP that the anti surge valve testing had been successfully completed and that those valves were suitable for high rise buildings like 199 Knightsbridge.
By the end of July 2005 WSP should have advised the Claimant to do this (but WSP could not reasonably have been expected to give such advice before the end of July 2005).
No evidence had been provided that such advice, if given, would have been accepted by the Claimant. If anything, the evidence demonstrated the opposite.
Also, even if the Claimant had decided to accept the advice to install anti-surge valves at the top of each riser, it was unlikely that they would have been installed earlier enough to prevent the failures that happened on 15 September 2005.
So, any failure by WSP to give such advice did not cause either of those failures.
This blog has been posted out of general interest. It does not replace the need to get proper legal advice in individual cases.