Key Issue in Lendlease Construction v Aecom: Breach of Contract, Limitation Periods, and Settlement Agreement Admissibility

Citation: [2023] EWHC 2620 (TCC)
Judgment on


In the case of Lendlease Construction (Europe) Limited v Aecom Limited, the court considered various legal principles relating to breach of contract, limitation periods, settlement agreements, and the admissibility of settlements in subsequent proceedings. The case is an instructive exposition on how courts may approach disputes involving alleged deficiencies in professional services rendered in the context of construction projects. This article will explore the key topics discussed in this case, focusing on the legal principles as applied by the court.

Key Facts

The dispute centered on Lendlease’s allegation that Aecom had breached its contractual obligations by failing to provide adequate mechanical and electrical consultancy services for the construction of a new oncology center. Key issues included the scope of Aecom’s obligations, whether its duties continued past construction completion, and the effects of various agreements on the claim, including a previous settlement agreement and limitation defenses.

Breach of Contract

The court detailed the contractual obligations of Aecom, focusing on whether these mirrored Lendlease’s obligations to Project Co and whether Aecom was required to meet specific outcomes or merely exercise reasonable care and skill. The court found that Aecom was not required to achieve the same outcomes as Lendlease under the D&B Contract and that their obligation was one of reasonable care and skill, qualified by other contract clauses.

Limitation Periods

The limitation defense played a significant role in the case. Aecom contended that the relevant claims were statute-barred under the standard six-year limitation period for simple contracts. However, the court found that the Consultancy Agreement operated as a deed, thus enacting a twelve-year limitation period. Still, certain claims were found to be statute-barred as the cause of action accrued more than twelve years before the start of proceedings.

Settlement Agreements

Aecom’s reliance on a settlement agreement between itself and Lendlease was pivotal. The court interpreted the agreement as releasing Aecom from liabilities for known defects or those which should have been known to Lendlease at the time of the Settlement Agreement. The agreement was found to preclude claims in respect of defects in existence and apparent before it was made.

Admissibility of Settlements in Subsequent Proceedings

The judgment by Joanna Smith J in the preceding proceedings against Project Co and Engie formed part of the discussion. The court applied the principles from the case of Hollington v Hewthorn, which allows for certain established facts or damages from previous proceedings to be admissible in subsequent litigation involving different parties, with the important “carve-out” that a judgment is conclusive against the parties on the existence of the state of things which it directly affects.


The court concluded that many of the claims brought by Lendlease against Aecom were statute-barred. Those that were not barred often failed substantively, as Lendlease did not provide enough evidence to demonstrate liability or could not sufficiently prove that the settlement sums were reasonable in the context of Aecom’s breach.


The judgment in the case of Lendlease Construction (Europe) Limited v Aecom Limited reflects an intricate application of legal norms pertaining to professional negligence, limitation periods, and settlement agreements. The analysis by Mr. Justice Eyre focused heavily on the nature and contents of contract terms while also paying regard to the practical repercussions of prior settlements and the implications of limitation defenses. The outcome illustrates the complexity inherent in construction disputes and emphasizes the importance for contracting parties to have a clear understanding of their responsibilities, the impact of settlement agreements, and how these can affect later litigation.