In this case, HHJ Stephen Davies in the Manchester District Registry considered claims and counterclaims arising out of consultants' appointments, including the application of abatement.  The claimant, Clark, provided QS and PM services to the defendant Dock St for its project involving construction of a new primary healthcare centre. Clark issued a claim for GBP 174,500 of outstanding fees, but Dock St alleged that Clark had failed to provide services as agreed and was responsible for cost overruns on the project.  It counterclaimed for repayment of GBP 195,000 already paid to Clark, and further sums in damages for breach of contract / negligence and reimbursement of part of the overspend resulting from unnecessary variations.

The judge did not accept that Dock St had suffered any loss or damage as a result of any breach by Clark.  He also confirmed that abatement is not available against a claim for payment of professional fees, following the decision of Jackson J in Multiplex v Cleveland Bridge, but acknowledged a deduction could be made if the services were not performed, or were performed so poorly as to be worthless. Although he found that Clark was entitled to a further GBP 162,000 in fees, he went on to find that Dock St was entitled to a substantial deduction in relation to a failure by Clark to perform certain services.

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