Builder Lu Simon has been ordered to pay $5.7 million in damages to owners over the Lacrosse building fire, but it’s the contractors who have been ordered to reimburse the builder 97 per cent of costs, a Victorian tribunal has ruled.
While the builder will have to pay the 211 applicants in the case, in a ruling made on Thursday, Justice Edward Woodward has found Lu Simon’s consultants — architect Elenberg Fraser, building surveyor Gardner Group and fire engineer Thomas Nicolas — liable.
“The sum to be paid by Lu Simon to the owners based on my findings today total is $5.748m and each of Gardner Group, Elenberg Fraser and Thomas Nicolas will be ordered to reimburse Lu Simon,” Justice Woodward said.
Further sums claimed totalling at least $6.8 million are yet to be resolved.
The Lacrosse tower fire, which was ignited by a cigarette left on a balcony, resulted in millions of dollars of damage to the 21-storey Docklands building in 2014.
The flames took hold on the outside of the building, and fuelled by flammable cladding, the fire had reached the tower's roof in just 11 minutes.
Following the blaze, the owners of apartments in the tower launched a lawsuit against the tower’s builder Lu Simon.
Justice Woodward ruled damages payable to be proportioned to Gardner Group 33 per cent, Elenberg Fraser 25 per cent, Thomas Nicolas 39 per cent.
The remaining three per cent will be settled by Lu Simon.
The cost of replacing non-compliant cladding is still being negotiated.
Justice Woodward will announce final orders, including on costs, next week.
While nobody died in the 2014 fire, news of the incident sparked concerns over the use of cladding in construction.
The cladding or combustible aluminium composite panels had a core containing polyethylene (“ACPs”) which were located on the east and west façades of the Lacrosse tower.
The announcement, at the commonwealth building ministers’ forum in Hobart, comes after the 40-storey Neo200 apartment tower, covered in flammable cladding caught fire.