Firm claims first victory in contested cavity wall insulation case

Pilkington: Finite number of cavity wall cases

A north-west law firm has won what it believes is the first contested case against installers of faulty cavity wall insulation.

Cavity walls claims have long been seen as a potential area of growth for claimant firms looking for new areas of practice, but the lawyer who ran the case warned that they are not straightforward to run.

Cavity wall insulation is seen as a cost-effective way to improve energy efficiency, reducing heating bills and carbon emissions. But it is not suitable for all houses and incorrectly installed insulation can give rise to problems ranging from damp and condensation, through to serious structural damage or even health risks to those living within the property.

Liverpool-based Pilkington Shaw successfully argued that the claimant’s property was not suitable to receive insulation and that it should never have been installed.

The judge at Cardiff County Court awarded damages of over £6,000, plus interest.

Director Mike Pilkington said the firm was looking to move on to “a raft of other similar lawsuits”.

He explained: “We believe thousands of unfortunate householders across the UK have wrongly had cavity wall insulation fitted, with the potential damage caused getting progressively worse until it is extracted, a process which may cost thousands of pounds.”

However, he told Litigation Futures that considerable legal issues arise in cavity wall claims.

“We have to combat often complete denial that any wrongdoing has occurred. This may include a denial that the claim should attract any damages for stress and inconvenience and an allegation that any claim should be a small claim, and therefore no legal fees should be payable, despite the fact that matters normally take two full days to resolve at trial with an expert called for either side.”

Though cavity wall litigation has been dubbed the ‘new whiplash’ by some, Mr Pilkington said these issues showed they were not.

For one thing, there was a “finite number” of cases. Though insulation was still being installed, the solicitor said it was not “in anything like the numbers it was when government incentives were available”.

Further, he said: “In a cavity wall case, it is possible to demonstrate objectively that the installation should not have been carried out or is defective and that damage has occurred as a result, by using a RICS registered surveying expert.

“In whiplash cases whether a client has suffered injury and to what degree is normally subjective and reliant on the word of the individual client to prove.”

    Readers Comments

  • Lynne balding says:

    Its disgusting the problems it leaves you with my husband has had to replace all the floors at the rear of our bungalow a cost of time and the materials! We are far from happy and need it removing

  • Tim Howell says:

    I have for a long time been concerned about foam cavity wall insulation particularly where air vents are filled with foam.In the past I have installed larger air bricks or uncovered existing air bricks in properties where condensation has been a big issue

  • Marc Roberts says:

    To be honest the only proper way to install cavity wall insulation is as follows:
    You first drill the house out
    You scope every hole looking into the cavity to see if there is rubble sitting on wall ties or if something is bridging the cavity
    Cavity barriers to be installed to stop insulation tress passing into neighbouring cavity
    All air bricks to be barriered around especially houses with timber floors
    Cap off cavity in loft area to stop insulation blow into loft area
    All these practices need to be done before insulation should start but they dont as soon as the first hole is drilled they start pumping in the insulation. What happens while Driller is drilling is holes the brick work breaks away at the back of the brick and settles on the insulation causing a cold spot seen it all I even use to extract insulation out of walls especially Foam. Hope this helps

  • Elfed R.Williams says:

    Do we have the case citation please ?

  • Barry Johnson says:

    cavity wall insulation installed in 2009, three bedroom brick property. Was not an issue at first then we had new windows installed and it has sealed the house. Started with damp walls, ceilings. Now have mould cracking plasterwork. Am seeking compensation. The company who installed the cavity wall are still trading and have been attempting to contact customers to put things right. We have not spoken to them. Seeking compensation to have the insulation out and brickwork restored.

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