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NEW MOVE IN MUSEUM ROW; Legal action with two sets of architects.

Byline: DAVID BARTLETT

NATIONAL Museums Liverpool is now embroiled in legal action with both sets of architects contracted to work on the new pounds 72m Museum of Liverpool.

NML has issued proceedings against Manchester-based architects AEW after a row over work carried out on the steps of the new building at the Pier Head.

In May the ECHO reported how NML was suing Danish architects 3XN. The firm was sacked from the project in 2007.

Legal wrangles have already seen NML pay out pounds 1.25m - but the latest action is aimed at clawing back some of the money.

It is understood the latest legal dispute centres around work done to the steps of the new museum.

NML is arguing the work was undertaken without its consent, not to the organisation's liking and it is being re-done.

Last July NML was forced to pay AEW pounds 500,000 over the disputed steps because contractors Peel Galliford Try (PGT) carried out the work and they were entitled to be paid.

Now NML is seeking to claim that money back.

NML chairman Phil Redmond said: "We will fight robustly to protect the public purse.

"It's amazingly frustrating that we have to go through legalistic procedures. But it is the only mechanism we have."

It is the latest bout of legal action in a building project that has been marred with problems.

3XN had its contract terminated in 2007 and later revealed it was taking legal advice about whether it could sue NML for using its designs.

The firm - which picked up the Royal Institute of British Architects' coveted International Award in 2009 - also claimed NML had withheld payments for the design work.

Peace between 3XN principal architect Kim Nielsen and NML director Dr David Fleming appeared to have broken out after the pair met in January last year.

NML agreed to credit his firm as the "creative architects" behind the museum's distinctive X-wing shape. In February last year NML paid a Liverpool developer pounds 750,000 because the new museum interrupted protected waterfront views.

It had to pay Downing the cash because it owns the Port of Liverpool Building which benefits from restricted covenants dictating how high neighbouring buildings can be built. NML chose to accept Downing's demand so that it could press ahead with the development.

A spokesman for National Museums Liverpool said: "We can confirm we have issued legal proceedings against AEW and therefore can make no further comment at this stage."

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FIGHT: Phil Redmond
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 29, 2011
Words:417
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