Leaky schools case against cladding manufacturer cleared for trial

The Supreme Court has dismissed an attempt by Carter Holt Harvey to strike out a case against it in respect of leaky schools allegedly arising from its negligent manufacture of cladding material. The decision reflects the reluctance of the courts to strike out claims where novel duties of care are alleged. Perhaps the strongest ground advanced was whether the Building Act 2004 10 year "longstop" limitation period for proceedings arising from building work applied. The Court had little trouble agreeing with both the High Court judge and the Court of Appeal that as the proceedings arose not from building work but from the alleged negligent manufacture and supply of building products, the "longstop" did not apply. The Court queried whether now that the Limitation Act 2010 ("the Act") has a 15 year "longstop" on which suppliers such as Carter Holt can now rely, there is any need for the Building Act 2004 "longstop". Three other cladding manufacturers were originally part of this proceeding, but have settled; now that the strike-out attempt has failed at the final hurdle, settlement between the remaining parties seems likely.