Alarm company ordered to pay £30 million in damages for Grand Pier fire
By Prue_Reid | Thursday, January 03, 2013, 18:57
THE fire which ripped through and destroyed Weston-super-Mare's Grand Pier nearly five years ago was entirely the fault of the alarm company, a judge has ruled.
The fire which destroyed the Grand Pier pavilion in July 2008.
His Honour Judge Havelock-Allan, sitting at Bristol Mercantile Court found 'a high degree of negligence' against alarm company System 2 Security, following the Grand Pier fire in July 2008.
Judge Havelock-Allan said that if the alarm company had done its job, the pier would have been saved from the fire that completely destroyed the pavilion in July 2008.
He found 'no contributory negligence' on behalf of the Grand Pier Limited (GPL) - said 100 % blame was with the alarm company and awarded an immediate payment of £30 million plus interest to GPL.
He ordered System 2 Security to pay £30 million in damages to the owners of the Grand Pier following the fire which destroyed the seafront landmark.
However, System 2 Security of Locking Road in Weston-super-Mare went into administration three days before the court case began in November, raising doubts about whether GPL will receive any money.
The fire broke out on the landmark during the early hours of July 28 and at first was contained in buildings at the end of the pier.
A member of the public saw smoke and called the fire brigade at about 6.45am, but by then it was too late and the fire could not be contained.
System 2 Security was engaged by the Grand Pier to maintain and monitor the alarm system.
Grand Pier owners, Kerry and Michelle Michael, served papers on the company claiming that the fire alarm went off at the seafront landmark at 1.35am yet no 999 calls were made until 7am.
Grand Pier owner Kerry Michael said he was pleased with the complete vindication of GPL, its directors and staff but that he was determined to pursue those responsible.
Mr Michael said: "There can be no doubt where the blame lies.
"It has cost us hundreds of thousands of pounds to pursue this judgement and we did so knowing that System 2 Security Limited was just a shell of a company with little or no assets so we had little chance of seeing any compensation from them.
"However, we felt we had a duty to get to the truth behind the fire and identify those responsible for the loss of the Grand Pier.
"We will continue to pursue the company, its directors, insurers and anyone else that provided advice to System 2 Security before or since the fire.
"They were clearly responsible for what happened yet they continued to deny any liability until the court case was upon them when they put the company into administration."
The news comes just months after GPL received an out of court settlement for an undisclosed amount from the Essex-based alarm company Yeoman Monitoring Services Ltd.
System 2 Security, which was based at Locking Road, Weston-super-Mare, contracted out the job of monitoring the alarm system to Yeoman Monitoring Services.
At the time of the fire, the pier owners claimed the alarm was remotely suspended multiple times by Yeoman Monitoring Service for up to four hours at a time.
The Michaels maintained that the fire which destroyed the attraction may not have resulted in such a devastating loss if the emergency services had been called when the remote alarm was first activated at 1.35am. The rebuilt pier was re-built at a cost of £51 million and re-opened for business in October 2011 and now welcomes 3.5 million visitors each year.