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'No doubt' of legal action over aluminium cladding - lawyer

Radio New Zealand logo Radio New Zealand 12/06/2018

Members of the emergency services work inside burnt out remains of the Grenfell apartment tower in North Kensington, London: Members of the emergency services work inside burnt out remains. © REUTERS/Neil Hall Members of the emergency services work inside burnt out remains.

New Zealand building owners with cladding similar to Grenfell Tower will bring legal action, a lawyer says.

The combustible cladding spread fire quickly through the Grenfell Tower apartment block in London almost a year ago, killing 72 people.

Auckland Council has found 116 buildings with similar aluminum composite panels - of which 25 have panels with highly combustible polyethylene cores which burned rapidly in Grenfell Tower fire - and Wellington City Council has identified 113.

Both say when taking into account fire systems like sprinklers and fire alarms the risk to building occupants is low and nobody is being put in danger.

They are encouraging worried building owners to seek advice.

Leading building disputes lawyer Paul Grimshaw said he was surprised at the number of buildings with the cladding and concerned property owners have approached him and his firm about what to do.

Related video: Five new Grenfell Tower fire reports detail multiple safety issues (provided by Newsy)

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"The first thing is to find out if it's a problem and what type of cladding has been used, whether it's dangerous, whether the whole cladding system has been correctly installed.

"If it hasn't, then routinely we look around for people to sue on behalf of body corporates to try to recover this amount of money which, in a radical situation like the one we're describing, may well mean the whole building needs to be reclad."

He said the action would come against those who failed to put up the correct system and could include councils, architects and developers.

"I think there's no doubt my firm will take action on behalf of some of these owners of some of these buildings."

Meanwhile insurers will also be watching closely.

Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton said with the affected Auckland buildings now in the public domain, individual insurers would reconsider risks, which could affect premiums.

"The risk assessments will be redone on the basis of the information that's just been released by the city council and then we'll just have to see what that risk assessment produces and any change it might have."


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