Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Builder of plush Belfast mall sued over noise

Vibrations from building work at Belfast's Victoria Square were so severe a neighbouring law firm feared its offices were in danger, the High Court has heard.

Partners in Bernard Campbell and Co told of having to stop files toppling off desks, struggling to get into work and having to take clients elsewhere.

The solicitors firm is suing the retail centre's developers for private nuisance and disruption it claims to have suffered over a two-year period of demolition and construction work.

During her evidence yesterday one partner, Margaret McGauley, claimed no initial advice was given on the type of work which was to take place.

“I ran around that site like a demented woman sometimes, looking for people to speak to me,” she told the court.

Asked about her experiences when the first phase of demolition work began in 2004, she told of being shocked at the noise and being forced to abandon her car at times amid lengthy traffic queues.

Describing the scene near the firm's Victoria Street offices, she said: “It was just jam-packed. There were hundreds of men all geared up to go in through this turnstile they had created.

“They were going in to restaurants to have their breakfast and milling out on the street. They seemed to all come out of white vans and lorries.”

She told of being under stress during the demolition work and said she struggled to cope with it as well as others thought she was.

“It was relentless, vibrations, and then I thought the building was in danger,” she recalled.

“You would stand in the room and things were moving and you would put your hands on the files to stop them moving off the desk.”

The solicitor also spoke of feeling “embarrassed” around clients, some of whom she described as “very well-heeled people”.

“They obviously weren't that happy,” she said.

“We went out to hotels, I took some of them home and I took some across here to the Bar Library.”

The court heard that a letter sent from the law firm's solicitors in August 2005 stated they had |decided to relocate to save their business. Another partner, Mark Campbell, agreed with counsel for the defendant, Multi-Development UK Ltd, that such a move was ultimately not required.

“That was our perception at the time,” he said.

“We were finding it increasingly intolerable, we had a perception our business was suffering,” he added.

“On top of that, there were |the difficulties in continuing to work in this environment without, we felt, proper fulfilment of |the developer's legal obligation to us.”

Following evidence, the case was adjourned for further legal submissions.

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