Coleman Legal Logo

(1800) 844 104

Defective Block Scandal

Families in Donegal and Mayo have been forced to quit their dream homes due to poor construction that has caused the structures to crack and deteriorate, leaving them unusable. Our team at Coleman Legal has been working to assist families affected by this scandal.

Here is a message from Dave Coleman (Managing Partner) discussing how anyone affected by defective blocks can contact “Coleman Legal LLP” to discuss their options for seeking compensation.

How do I start?

Please, fill in your details below to request information from our team at Coleman Legal LLP. Our team is ready to advise families in Donegal County affected by defective block scandal. Kindly fill out the contact form or email us at [email protected] you will be sent an online form to complete. The Coleman legal LLP team will guide you through from there on forward.

Express your interest

Tell us about your case

News

FAQs

Where do I start?

If you wish to join the Group Litigation, upon payment of the €500 fee, you can email the proof of payment to [email protected] and you will be sent an online form to complete. Once we have received your consent for us to issue proceedings on your behalf, we will proceed to issue and serve the plenary summons and it will then be a matter of awaiting the outcome of the lead cases.

What is the case about?

A very large number of people who have suffered property damage in County Donegal due to the use of defective construction products in the construction of their properties have come together to take a case against all of the parties responsible for the fact that this was allowed to occur with little or no supervision. The case seeks damages from the following parties

  1. The Quarry and its sister companies who produced, manufactured and supplied the products;
  2. Donegal County Council who were responsible for monitoring the production of the products; and
  3. The National Standards Authority of Ireland who certified the production of the products.
Why should I join the case?

Whatever your circumstances, there is only a limited amount of time in which you can take Court Action to vindicate your rights. This is due to the law known as the Statute of Limitations.  The only way to stop time defeating your right to sue those responsible is by issuing a Court Summons against those responsible.

The advantage of joining the group litigation is that you will not be subjected to the usual costs, stress and burden associated with once-off litigation and you will be in a position to allow the lead cases to take that burden for you.

How does the group litigation work?

From within the large group, six individuals, each with different circumstances, have agreed to act as representatives for the rest of the group and to act as lead or “pathfinder” cases. The circumstances of these lead cases are such that the issues within them generally describe the conditions that apply to most property owners in Donegal.

In the meantime, it has been agreed that all of the other cases within the group will effectively be on hold. This is a significant achievement because, once a summons has been issued in the High Court and served on each of the Defendants, no other steps in the litigation will occur pending the outcome of the lead cases.

Following much negotiation with the other parties, it has also been agreed that the normal costly and time consuming rules for physical service can be dispensed with and that summonses can be served electronically. The Defendants have also agreed that they will not come on record or take any active steps, which eliminates the costs risk for the Plaintiffs such as yourself, should the lead cases be unsuccessful.

If the lead cases go to trial, the Decision of the Lead cases will be binding on those in the group. Similarly, if the lead cases are settled, any Settlement or Redress Scheme will apply to the members of the case.

Is there a limit on the numbers who can join the case?

No. The larger the numbers joining the case the better for all. As in all cases, it is up to the Solicitors to guide the case through the courts to ensure that all of the participants are fully and properly represented.

In the meantime, it has been agreed that all of the other cases within the group will effectively be on hold. This is a significant achievement because, once a summons has been issued in the High Court and served on each of the Defendants, no other steps in the litigation will occur pending the outcome of the lead cases.

Following much negotiation with the other parties, it has also been agreed that the normal costly and time consuming rules for physical service can be dispensed with and that summonses can be served electronically. The Defendants have also agreed that they will not come on record or take any active steps, which eliminates the costs risk for the Plaintiffs such as yourself, should the lead cases be unsuccessful.

If the lead cases go to trial, the Decision of the Lead cases will be binding on those in the group. Similarly, if the lead cases are settled, any Settlement or Redress Scheme will apply to the members of the case.

What happens to any Grant that I may receive? Will I lose it.

These lead cases are being case managed by the Commercial Division of the High Court and / or by way of a series of agreements which have been negotiated between the parties. This involves a strict timetable during which all of the court documents or “pleadings” must be exchanged. In this way, the cases will move much faster than would be usual in litigation.  The timetable also allows for the testing of the quarry as well as the testing of individual homes of the Lead Plaintiffs.

Once all of the pleadings have been exchanged, a process of “Discovery” will then occur where the parties will request and exchange documents which it is believed are necessary to be provided by each party to allow for the fair and cost effective trial of the cases. Once the Discovery process is over, the Lead cases can then proceed to trial.

Is there a limit on the numbers who can join into the case?

No. The larger the numbers joining the case the better for all. As in all cases, it is up to the Solicitors to guide the case through the courts to ensure that all of the participants are fully and properly represented.

The purpose of the litigation is to achieve compensation for anyone who has suffered (or will suffer) loss as a result of the use of defective concrete products and there is no such arbitrary restriction on the type of property which can be included as part of the group litigation.

The owner of the property has passed away. Can I register for the Group Litigation on their behalf?

We would suggest issuing proceedings in the name of the Personal Representative of the late owner’s estate if the property is still in their name pending the outcome of the probate. We could then also take instructions from the Personal Representative (or an authorised nominee on their behalf).

However, you may wish to take advice from the probate solicitor with regard to any tax implications or otherwise that any potential compensation settlement may have as we are unfortunately not in a position to advise on that aspect.

My property is not eligible for the Grant Scheme. Can I still register for the litigation?

There are many types of properties which are not eligible for a grant under the state Grant Scheme, such as commercial buildings, multi-unit buildings, holiday homes, farm buildings, even buildings that surround a family home such as a garage or outhouse.

The purpose of the litigation is to achieve compensation for anyone who has suffered (or will suffer) loss as a result of the use of defective concrete products and there is no such arbitrary restriction on the type of property which can be included as part of the group litigation.

I am having difficulty with my bank and / or insurance company. Can you assist?

If you have a mortgage on your home, we would be grateful for any information or correspondence you might have from your bank in relation to any difficulty in which you have found yourself with them. For example, perhaps you have tried to engage with the bank regarding repayments on your mortgage or obtaining consent for demolition of your home.

Likewise, if you have had any issues with securing insurance on your home or property, this information may be of assistance to our own enquiries in the context of the Group Litigation.

We would appreciate if you could email us any information that you think might be relevant. We regret that we are not in a position to advise on specific cases as it will be individual to the terms of your mortgage conditions and / or insurance policy.

How much does it costs?

Initially, there was no charge for individual property owners to join the case, and it was intended that the numbers in the case would be limited.

Rather than closing off the number of members who could join the group, we have left the door open for anyone who wishes to join. However, as of 7 July 2023, there is now a once off charge of €500.00 for new applicants. This will cover outlay such as stamp duty and any administration expenses which may arise.

We will also provide a letter in relation to costs to each applicant who joins the group. On the successful conclusion of the case, we will charge a modest fee. Due to the complex nature of the group litigation, it is not possible for us to confirm at this stage what that fee will be. However, we have set out an estimated basis for our charges in our Section 150 Costs Letter. This will cover our costs in relation to the work which will be involved in resolving each case individually.

Are there any hidden charges?

No. All extra costs, such as expert witness fees, the costs of the legal team involved in research and the litigation / discovery, testing fees for the lead case etc are being met on a ‘Not For Profit’ basis.

As set out above, we will only charge you over and above the initial registration fee (if applicable) on the successful outcome of your claim. At that stage we will only ask for a modest payment towards our legal fees and the costs involved in achieving compensation for you through whatever channel is eventually decided.

Should the case be unsuccessful, we will not charge you any additional fee towards the legal costs.

What is involved in the litigation?

These lead cases are being case managed by the Commercial Division of the High Court and / or by way of a series of agreements which have been negotiated between the parties. This involves a strict timetable during which all of the court documents or “pleadings” must be exchanged. In this way, the cases will move much faster than would be usual in litigation.  The timetable also allows for the testing of the quarry as well as the testing of individual homes of the Lead Plaintiffs.

Once all of the pleadings have been exchanged, a process of “Discovery” will then occur where the parties will request and exchange documents which it is believed are necessary to be provided by each party to allow for the fair and cost effective trial of the cases. Once the Discovery process is over, the Lead cases can then proceed to trial.

Can I register on behalf of an elderly or incapacitated property owner?

Unfortunately, due to the General Data Protection Regulations, we can only take advice from the owner of the property, unless they provide us with written formal consent allowing someone to provide us with instructions on their behalf.

Likewise, legal proceedings can only be brought in the name of the owner of the property (either a person or a registered company).

Should I apply for the State Grant Scheme?

We ask you to note that the Defective Blocks Grant Scheme is a State initiative and separate from the Defective Blocks group litigation. The State has been very clear that they will not be providing a redress scheme. Whether or not you apply for the Grant Scheme is a matter for yourself. Unfortunately we are not in a position to advise on the terms of the Grant Scheme and any queries you have in that regard would be best addressed directly to Donegal County Council or the Housing Agency.

However, you should be aware that there is a duty on a Plaintiff to “mitigate their losses”, or in other words, to make their best efforts to recover their losses otherwise than by way of litigation. With regard to the Defective Blocks Group Litigation, this means that the Plaintiff should make their best efforts to apply for the Grant Scheme.

Any amount ultimately received by you under the Grant Scheme will be deducted from the overall value of your litigation claim. This includes interim payments under the Grant Scheme such as the accommodation funding or reimbursement of engineers’ fees for reports submitted. Therefore, in the group litigation you will be claiming your net losses together with any other personal losses that you have incurred.

Likewise, legal proceedings can only be brought in the name of the owner of the property (either a person or a registered company).

Do I need an engineer's report to join?

There is no requirement for you to obtain an engineer’s report in advance of registering for the Group Litigation. If you are confident that the construction products were supplied by Cassidy Brothers and it appears that your house has or may be affected as a result of defective concrete products, please proceed to register. Assuming that there is a successful outcome of the lead cases progressing through the High Court, we will address how best to quantify your losses when the time comes.

It remains to be seen whether, if and when these cases are resolved, an engineer’s report will be required to establish liability. However, if you have obtained an engineer’s report, please feel free to send on a copy of any report and test results to us. If and when the time comes, it will assist to have your reports on file.

How long will it take?

As you know, no litigation is quick. However, the plan is to ask the Commercial Division of the High Court in Dublin to accept the Lead/Pathfinder cases into the Commercial Court. This has been done successfully before. The benefit to the Court System is that it does not have to deal with the same queries, Court Applications etc over and over again. This greatly reduces the strain that a case such as this would place on the court system.

Can I take a case for the stress on myself and my family?

All cases are unique to the individual. However, if you have suffered an injury, psychological or physical, and you have the support of your medical advisers, you may be able to seek compensation for your injury.

What is the purpose of the EU Complaint which is being made on behalf of the Donegal property owners?

This process is completely separate to the group litigation and it is hoped that a strong complaint against the Irish State may put pressure on the government to attempt to resolve the matter. The Complaint itself highlights the failure of the State to monitor the production of construction products which allowed for the disastrous situation in Donegal to occur.