A statement of claim is being finalised in relation to more than 1,100 cases taken to date by homeowners and others whose properties have been affected by defective mica blocks.
International experts are assisting in preparing the statement of claim, expected to be delivered by the end of this month after which the High Court will be asked to case manage the complex litigation.
Dave Coleman, whose firm Coleman Legal Partners is handling the cases, told The Irish Times on Friday: “We look forward to delivering the statement of claim, which is in the process of finalisation. We will be applying to court, in conjunction with the defendants, to manage the cases properly through the court systems given the breadth of the litigation and the obvious stress on the court system which should be avoided.”
The cases lodged so far involve about 1,400 plaintiffs but it is anticipated, by the end of this year, that number could rise to some 2,000 people whose properties have been affected by defective mica blocks.
Cases continued to be lodged in the wake of Government approval last July of legislation of a €2.7 billion State grant scheme to address the problems. The Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme provides, among other things, for 100 per cent grants, subject to a maximum €420,000 per dwelling if a home has to be completely rebuilt and will apply to some 7,000 homes in counties Donegal, Mayo, Sligo, Tipperary, Clare and Limerick.
Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has said the scheme, which some say could ultimately cost up to €3.65 billion, will take several years to complete .
Campaigners for redress have complained the scheme is inadequate and will not meet the full costs of rebuilding or remediating homes. Other concerns include that it excludes commercial buildings and residents of Northern Ireland who own holiday homes in Co Donegal.
Republic of Ireland national football team manager Stephen Kenny and his wife, Siobhán, who own a holiday home at Fahan, outside Buncrana, on the Inishowen peninsula, are among those who have lodged actions over the defective blocks issue.
The High Court cases are expected to claim compensation between the payment amounts that the Government has committed to and any shortfall incurred by property owners in rebuilding or remediating their homes.
The cases are against Cassidy Brothers, a large supplier of concrete in Co Donegal; Donegal County Council and the National Standards Authority of Ireland, the State agency responsible for setting standards for construction products.
Following service of the statement of claim, likely to be wide ranging and technical, the defendants will deliver defences.
Cassidy Brothers previously said in a statement that it “has always adhered rigidly to the industry standards set down by Government and regulatory bodies in the manufacturing of all products”. The firm’s products “always met all of the required standards at the point of manufacture”, the statement said.
Given the scale of the litigation, it is expected a number of lead or pathfinder cases will be selected for the purpose of determining the core issues. If the litigation goes to hearing, legal sources say it could take years, noting that a number of separate cases relating to liability for properties affected by pyrite were subject of lengthy hearings and appeals in past years.