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Council / White House legal dispute reaches Court of Session

The SIC moved its staff out of the White House at the end of September - Photo: Andrew Gibson/Millgaet MediaThe SIC headquarters at 8 North Ness were evacuated in September 2016.

SHETLAND Islands Council (SIC) is continuing to pursue a six-figure sum compensation claim against local building firm Hunter & Morrisons in the wake of the White House saga.

The council’s headquarters at 8 North Ness, locally known at the White House, was evacuated in September 2016 after concerns were raised over its structural integrity.

The then council chief executive Mark Boden said at the time that based on the advice he had been given by surveyors, he had no other option but to decant the building and find alternative accommodation for around 200 staff.

The blame as to who was at fault quickly fell on the well established local firm, but following almost two years of surveys and load tests the building was deemed to have no structural deficiencies – and in fact the surveys found that the building’s floors were much stronger than required.

As of March 2018 council employees started progressively moving back into the building, and following some alterations to the layout of the office block, have now completed the return to the White House.

At the time, the SIC’s legal team lodged litigation proceedings at the Court of Session against the building firm in a bid to recoup some of the “substantial (…) legal resources [which] have been required to safeguard the council’s interest”.

It is understood that the SIC is asking for a sum in the region of £300,000.

A first proof hearing got under way before Lady Wise at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Tuesday last week, but it was discharged following a request from the SIC to allow them more time to prepare.

The case has now been adjourned until 8 September 2020 when evidence is due to be heard.

A spokeswoman for Shetland Islands Council said the local authority would not comment on the case.

Ian Morrison of Hunter & Morrisons said: “We were 100 per cent prepared for the case and ready to defend our reputation.”