For those of you not aware, the Ministry of Education has a leaky school problem affecting hundreds of school buildings. In 2013, the Ministry filed claims against a number of manufacturers and suppliers of building materials, including Carter Holt Harvey. It appears that most suppliers have settled, but Carter Holt is holding out. It has taken a principled or possibly a tactical approach in trying to have the claims struck out without going to trial. On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Carter Holt’s appeal.
So why is this noteworthy? This has the potential to affect all suppliers of building products used in New Zealand, even where the manufacturer or supplier has no direct contractual relationship with the building or homeowner. The Ministry claims that Carter Holt, in manufacturing ‘Shadowclad’ board, owed it a duty of care. Further, it claims that Carter Holt cannot hide behind the 10 year longstop in the Building Act 2004, on the basis that it only applies to building work.
Once the Supreme Court issues its decision on the appeal, which will be well into next year, we will update you further.