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An Australian judge has ruled that the owners of a building badly damaged by fire should receive most of their $AUS 12.7 million claim, with 39% to come from the fire engineer, 35% from the certifier and 25% from the architect. The builder only has to pay 3%.

In 2014 the Lacrosse Building in Melbournce suffered major damage when a fire that started from a cigarette in a plant pot on a balcony set fire to cladding and spread up the outside of the building. Fortunately the building was sprinklered, the sprinklers stopped the fire entering the building and nobody was killed.

The major payments are because the parties were ruled to have breached contractual obligations. Abiding by common practice is no defence if that practice is inadequate.

It was the Australian government which introduced a performance-based deregulatory approach that allowed architects, fire engineers and certifiers to convince themselves that combustible cladding was acceptable. The British government took a similar approach and the Grenfell Tower disaster killed 72 people on 14 June 2017. It remains to be seen whether a similar ruling will be reached in the UK