Polidano and Lija council pick up bill for flood damage after removing culverts

Polidano Bros, architect and Lija council ordered to pay over €18,000 in damages over roadworks which caused flooding in Lija in 2012

The court found the building contractor, architect and local council liable for the flood damage
The court found the building contractor, architect and local council liable for the flood damage

A building contractor, architect and local council have been ordered to pay over €18,000 in damages over roadworks which caused flooding in parts of Lija in 2012.

Polidano Brothers, the Lija local council and Perit John Rizzo Naudi were jointly condemned to pay €18,485.97 to insurer Lloyd’s Malta Ltd in the judgment handed down yesterday by Mr Justice Lawrence Mintoff, yesterday.

The case was filed after a heavy rainstorm struck the Maltese islands on 3 September 2012.

After seeing an affidavit by a resident whose home was flooded with over 2ft of water and the evidence of technical experts, the court said it had no doubt that the damages had been caused by resurfacing works in a number of roads in Lija. As part of the works carried out, a number of culverts up the road from the damaged home had been removed and never completely replaced.

The resurfacing project was initiated by the local council, which had engaged Polidano Brothers Ltd to implement it, under the supervision of architects John Rizzo Naudi and Joseph Cachia.

The court said its task was to ascertain whether the defendants had failed to take the expected precautions to ensure that no damage to private property occurred after the works.

Quoting other judgments about damages caused by the same storm, the court said that whoever is responsible for works has the duty to take all the necessary precautions to ensure the minimum inconvenience and damage to nearby residences. This applied both to the person who commissioned the works as well as to whoever carried them out.

It emerged from the evidence that had the camber of the roads not been changed and had all the culverts been replaced the flooding would probably not have happened.

The defendant’s architect, Cachia, had testified that he would often not be on site and the defendant company’s employees would end up taking orders directly from the local council’s architect, Rizzo Naudi. “It was this which led to a situation where not all the necessary precautions were taken, a shortcoming which led to a situation where one of the residents in the area suffered substantial damages to her property,” said the court.

The resident had testified that although there had been heavy rains in the past, this was the first time her home had flooded. “There was no force majeur in all this,” said the court, “because..this incident could have been avoided with a little planning and by the taking of necessary precautions by the defendants.”

Lawyers Chris Cilia, Timothy Bartolo and Carmel Cascun appeared for the plaintiffs.

More in Court & Police