Newham wins landmark legal case against building owner who delayed removing dangerous cladding

Newham becomes first council to successfully prosecute building owner for delays in removing dangerous cladding

Newham has become the first local authority in Britain to successfully prosecute a building owner for failing to remove flammable cladding.

In a verdict delivered today (Wednesday 18th October 2023), Tan Ikram, Deputy Chief Magistrate at City of London Magistrates Court, ruled against Chaplair Ltd after it failed to meet a deadline to remove dangerous cladding from its Lumiere building at 544 Romford Road, London E7.  

Newham Council pursued legal action using its powers under the Housing Act 2004 after Chaplair Ltd failed to remove dangerous cladding on the Lumiere building by the 31 March 2021 deadline imposed in an improvement notice issued by the Council in September 2020.  

Work eventually began in May 2021, with dangerous cladding removed by February 2022, and through its legal action, the Council successfully argued that there was no reasonable excuse for the delay.

The successful prosecution marks a major milestone for Newham Council’s Cladding Action campaign which puts pressure on building owners and responsible parties to act urgently to complete all fire safety works required, including removing all outstanding and unsafe ACM cladding in blocks or face prosecution. It’s part of the Council’s agenda of protecting the rights of residents living in the borough.

Rokhsana Fiaz OBE, Mayor of Newham said: “Through our Newham Cladding Action campaign to protect the rights of residents in our borough, we have zero tolerance for owners of buildings delaying essential life-saving fire safety work.

“Failing to remove dangerous cladding as quickly as possible places lives at risk and, where necessary, we will act with full force using the powers we have to protect our residents.

“Six years after the Grenfell Tower disaster, today’s decision by the court symbolises a landmark ruling in our fight to raise standards and hold building owners to account in Newham. It will also help authorities across the country to safeguard the interests of their residents using the powers available under vital housing legislation.

“This monumental ruling sends a clear warning to all building owners operating in Newham that they must act swiftly in the interest of our residents’ safety first and always, otherwise we will take decisive action against you.”

In his ruling, Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram wrote: “The prosecution have satisfied me so that I am sure that a valid Improvement Notice was served and the Defendant company did not carry out the required remedial works relating to the external facades within the required period.  The Defendants have failed to satisfy me that they have reasonable excuse in failing to comply with the Improvement Notice. I therefore find Chaplair Ltd guilty of the offence.”

The case will return for sentencing on Tuesday 31 October 2023 at 9.30am at Westminster Magistrates Court. 

Published: 18 Oct 2023