Germans may get pounds 2m Dome compensation

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The Independent Online
A GERMAN company whose contract to build the roof of the Millennium Dome was withdrawn may be entitled to more than pounds 2m in compensation, the Court of Appeal said yesterday.

Koch Hightex GmbH had agreed to supply the dome's PVC roof for pounds 6.5m but its contract was ended after Peter Mandelson, the minister responsible, said the Dome would be a focal point for British talent.

Amid fears of bad publicity the contract was ended and the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) asked Birdair, a US-based and Japanese-owned company, to supply the materials. The German company issued a writ claiming it had been unfairly frozen out of the contract. In 1997, Mr Justice Lindsay ruled that the NMEC was not under obligation to pay compensation to Koch Hightex.

But at the Court of Appeal yesterday Lord Justices Evans, Staughton and Chadwick dismissed the NMEC's contention that it was not liable. It had terminated the contract under a no-fault provision. Koch Hightex said yesterday it were seeking pounds 2.25m.

A spokesman for the NMEC said: "We sought to agree compensation but they chose to take legal action. Notwithstanding today's judgment, it remains the case that the NMEC was entitled to terminate its agreement. The dispute now reverts to the question of the level of compensation as before. The NMEC will be putting its case vigorously in the High Court."

Children under the age of 16 not accompanied by an adult will be barred from the Dome mainly for safety reasons, Janet Anderson, the Culture minister, said yesterday.