Judge rules Minister must disclose documents over school construction

Part of a Balbriggan school had to be closed two years ago due to alleged structural defects

 

A High Court judge has ruled the Minister for Education must disclose certain documents for a case relating to the construction of a second-level school in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, part of which had to be closed two years ago due to alleged structural defects.

Mr Justice Brian O’Moore gave the ruling on a pre-trial application in an action for damages brought by the Minister against the school builders, Tyrone-based Western Building Systems Ltd.

The action is one of a series against Western in relation to different schools. Western denies the allegations and pleads any defects in the Balbriggan school were caused by the negligence of the Minister and/or her agents, or by third parties, some of whom are being sued separately by Western.

Western has joined as notice parties in the Minister’s case against it a number of architects, engineers, consultants and construction firms.

They are: Oppermann Associates Ltd, Stephen Opermann, Teague and Sally Ltd, Martin, Dermott and Barry Brunton trading as Classic Timber Frames, Varming Consulting Engineers Unlimited Co, Varming Consulting Ltd, Sean Smyth Construction Ltd, and Firetec (Ireland) Ltd.

Ardgillan Community School in Balbriggan was built in two phases in 2009 and 2015 and when the alleged defects were discovered in 2018, the older building was closed and pupils relocated or told to stay at home while repair works were carried out.

The Minister sued Western claiming negligence.

Western applied to the High Court for an order that the Minister make further and better discovery of documents and material which it says it needs to defend the case. The Minister disputed all of the documents sought had not been discovered.

Mr Justice O’Moore ruled Western was entitled to a number of documents including “as built” drawings of the building and certain documents relating to the remediation works. He refused further discovery in relation to a number of categories of documents.

The judge will deal with other matters, including costs, when the case is next before him for the purpose of assessing the progress made in the separate cases involving the third parties.