Northern Ireland to revise law on defective buildings

Northern Ireland to revise law on defective buildings

New legislation on defective buildings is to be brought forward in Northern Ireland after the High Court refused compensation to owners of apartments at Belfast’s Victoria Square.

Residents of the luxury apartments, a stone’s throw from the Royal Courts of Justice, were told to evacuate in 2019 after serious issues were identified by structural engineers.

A claim brought against the builders and architects by 30 private residents as well as charity Ulster Garden Villages was dismissed last week because of a six-year time limit for bringing claims under the Defective Premises (NI) Order 1975.

Mr Justice Huddleston said he had the “utmost sympathy” for the plaintiffs, acknowledging the “personal trauma and worry” caused by the situation, but said he had to apply the six-year limit.

He rejected arguments that the claim should be allowed to “proceed to trial in ‘common justice’”, saying that the “innovative arguments” by the plaintiffs were not “ultimately arguable”.

Northern Ireland’s communities minister Gordon Lyons, finance minister Caoimhe Archibald and agriculture, environment and rural affairs minister Andrew Muir met this afternoon to discuss the issues affecting the apartments.

In a joint statement, they said: “We are committed to working together to do what we can to help and support the residents as much as possible during what is a very distressing time.

“These are complex matters which will involve the transfer of functions and updating of legislation. However, we are committed to bringing forward legislation to address defective buildings at the earliest opportunity, pending agreement of the Executive and the Assembly.”

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