Grenfell tower: More than 1,000 launch court battle against council

More than 1,000 families, survivors and firefighters of Grenfell tower inferno launch multi-million pound court battle against Kensington and Chelsea council

  • More than 1,000 people have launched a court battle after Grenfell tower inferno
  • The claims were brought against the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
  • Seventy-two people died as a result of the Grenfell tower fire on June 14, 2017
  • Survivors, families and firefighters have launched the multi-million pound battle 

More than 1,000 families, survivors and firefighters of the Grenfell tower fire have launched a multi-million pound court battle against Kensington and Chelsea council.

A hearing was held at the High Court in London on Wednesday to manage roughly 1,130 claims brought against the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) and its tenant management organisation (TMO).

The claims have been brought by dozens of bereaved, families, survivors and emergency responders of the Grenfell tower inferno on June 14, 2017.

Lawyers representing dozens of people who survived the Grenfell Tower fire have called on the RBKC to ‘admit your liability’ for the disaster.

A hearing was held at London’s High Court on Wednesday to manage roughly 1,130 claims brought against Kensington and Chelsea council. Pictured: The Grenfell tower fire in London

Seventy-two people died as a result of the blaze at the west London block, after an electrical fault with a fridge-freezer sparked a catastrophic fire.

RBKC and TMO face nearly 1,000 High Court claims brought on behalf of the bereaved and survivors of the fire or their relatives.

And around 140 firefighters and police officers are also taking legal action against RBKC, the TMO and the London Fire Brigade or the Metropolitan Police, as well as eight companies involved in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower.

On Wednesday, the High Court was asked to pause the claims for nine months to allow the parties time to try and settle the cases without the need for a trial.

But 88 claimants – bereaved, families and survivors of the fire – argued the claims should not be put on hold and said they will not engage in talks with RBKC and the TMO unless it admits liability on their claims for breach of duty.

Lawyer Susan Rodway QC accused RBKC and the TMO of ‘seeking to avoid justice’ and prolong the proceedings despite ‘overwhelming evidence that condemns those landlords’ having come out in the public inquiry into the fatal fire.

Seventy-two people died as a result of the blaze (pictured) at the west London block, after an electrical fault with a fridge-freezer sparked a catastrophic fire on June 14, 2017

She said her clients were all ‘directly affected on the night by this ghastly tragedy’, adding: ‘These are the victims that we have to keep in mind.

‘These victims have already waited four years since the night of that ghastly fire and are no further forward (now).’

Ms Rodway said claimants ‘have suffered the direct impact of what we say is the unanswerable negligence and breach of duty of their landlords’ and wanted a ‘simple admission of liability from RBKC and the TMO’.

‘Just go ahead and admit your liability in this regard,’ she added.

The lawyer added that the suffering of some victims, who have not yet been permanently rehoused, had been ‘aggravated and exacerbated by … the failure of their landlords simply to say sorry and it’s our fault’.

Ms Rodway told the court: ‘There are some victims who have not yet been permanently rehoused. They continue to suffer not just from the impact of the fire, but the consequences four years down the line.’

Meanwhile Leigh-Ann Mulcahy QC, representing RBKC and the TMO, earlier said her clients ‘acknowledge the fact that the Grenfell fire was a terrible disaster which tragically resulted in a great human loss of life and suffering’.

Lawyer Susan Rodway QC (pictured) accused Kensington and Chelsea council and its tenant management organisation of ‘seeking to avoid justice’ and prolong the proceedings 

The claims have been brought by bereaved, families, survivors and emergency responders of the Grenfell tower fire on June 14, 2017

Ms Mulcahy said the claims should be paused so the parties could ‘pursue alternative forms of dispute resolution and in order that the innocent victims of this tragedy who are entitled to compensation’ could do so as quickly as possible.

The lawyer said this would help to ‘avoid the additional trauma, delay and cost that will be inherent’ in pursuing the litigation.

Ms Mulcahy told the court that the London Fire Commissioner suggested the RBKC and the TMO ‘should simply deal with all the claims’ and then bring their own claims against potential co-defendants later.

She said: ‘It is unfortunate that the London Fire Commissioner is seeking to deflect responsibility for resolving all of these claims … while minimising the London Fire Commissioner’s own role and responsibility for the loss of life and injury.’

Judge Barbara Fontaine ruled that the claims should be put on hold for nine months and said that she would give her reasons for her decision at a later date.

The hearing is listed to continue on Thursday.

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