Builders ordered to pay £15m after shards of glass fell 18 floors and shattered onto City workers

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Builders responsible for an accident in which shards of glass rained down on the street from a City office block have been ordered to pay almost £15 million damages.

Pedestrians miraculously escaped serious injury when a glass panel on the 18th floor of the old London Stock Exchange shattered, sending pieces plummeting onto the pavement and road during the busy lunch hour. 

The building, at 125 Old Broad Street, was heralded as a new City landmark when it reopened after an £80 million refurbishment in 2008. 

However, at least 35 per cent of the toughened glass panels had not been heat-soaked and they began to fail almost immediately, the High Court heard. Seventeen panels used to clad the outside of the building cracked or shattered over four years. 

Mr Justice Stuart-Smith has now ordered contractor Lend Lease Construction (Europe) Ltd to pay £14,753,195 compensation to the building’s owners over the debacle. 

The court heard glass from a shattered panel fell into the street on September 2, 2008, but the extent of the problem was not realised. On April 27 the next year a crack appeared in a 27th-storey panel and on July 30 a panel on the 11th floor broke but remained in place.

The problem hit the headlines on August 19, 2009 when an 18th-floor panel broke and fell to the ground, landing on the building’s reception canopy and the road. Two pedestrians were struck by the falling glass but escaped serious injury. The building had to be completely reclad in 2013.

At the hearing last week Mr Justice Stuart-Smith awarded more than  £8.7 million in reglazing costs as part of the compensation payout and almost £1.9 million for remedial works.

Lend Lease was sued by the owner of the building, a company called 125 OBS (Nominees1),  as it had contractual oversight of the refurbishment, although Italian firm Permasteelisa did all the actual glass work. Lend Lease declined to comment but Klaus Lother, chief executive of Permasteelisa UK Ltd, said the company was still reviewing the court’s decision.

“This judgment is relevant to an old project executed in 2005 and is connected with a decision by the client to change the project materials, which we objected to,” he said.

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