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Contractor settles after protracted legal wrangle

A dispute between contractor Bam Nuttall and Cambridgeshire County Council has finally come to an end.

According to Construction News and its sister site Local Government Chronicle (LGC), the authority launched a £55 million claim in 2011 after delays in the construction of a guided busway in the county.

But after this, the contractor issued a £43 million countersuit because of the council's refusal to pay a bill of £160.7 million it was believed to have been owed after the completion of the infrastructure project.

What followed was an intense and costly backwards and forwards of legal action, writs, threats and court dates that left both parties with increasing legal bills that they believed the other should pay.

But now a line has been scored under the dispute and Bam Nuttall has paid £33 million to Cambridgeshire County Council, which will likely make further contracting efforts for the private sector firm easier to come by.

The incoming High Speed 2 project will require specialist construction knowledge and with Bam Nuttall likely to be in the running for this government-tendered scheme, it was vital that the Dutch-owned group settle its guided busway legal action.

Cambridgeshire County Council leader Martin Curtis commented that he is happy that his local authority has finally been given the money it deserved. 

But he added: "What is deeply disappointing and frustrating is that it has taken this long and cost us so much money to win our arguments and stop Bam Nuttall from trying to take tens of millions of pounds away from local taxpayers. 

"Bam Nuttall's unwillingness, until now, to recognise their financial liability means they have tied up and cost Cambridgeshire taxpayers money which could have been better spent on our communities."

When approached for comment by Construction News and LGC, Bam Nuttall did not comment on the settlement, although its parent company Royal Bam, confirmed that the payment has already been budgeted for and will have no impact on its forecast for 2013.

By Chris Stevenson