The Supreme Court of Queensland decision of Douglas J in The Avenues Tavern (Townsville) v K P Architects  QSC 182 (2012/12262) is a recent example as to the operation of the Civil Liability Act 2003 (Qld) (CLA) and how pleading a party as a concurrent wrongdoer should work in practice.
The plaintiff was the owner of a property on which a tavern was constructed and, in part, designed by the defendant architect. The original design placed the building on power and sewerage easements, a problem which required redesign and caused delay to the project. The plaintiff sought losses in the amount of approximately $1.8 million. The defendant architect defended the claim.
The architect argued that the acts and omissions of both the local council and a town planner had contributed to the loss claimed. The defendant architect pleaded the claim was apportionable for the purpose of part 2 of chapter 2 of the CLA and that the local council and the town planner were concurrent wrongdoers.
The plaintiff did not admit this plea and, consequently, the defendant sought a declaration that the plaintiff’s claim against the defendant was an apportionable claim for the purpose of part 2 of chapter 2 of the CLA on the basis that the defendant would otherwise seek to join the local council and the town planner as third parties to the proceedings.
His Honour made the declaration noting that the practical effect if the allegation was made out would be to reduce the liability of the defendant for the alleged loss suffered by the plaintiff. There was no need to join the alleged concurrent wrongdoers to the proceedings.
The decision is a reminder of the usefulness of raising concurrent wrongdoers where appropriate to do so to reduce the liability of insureds and how practically this can be achieved.