Poland: National Stadium subject to multiple lawsuits

source: StadiumDB.com / RP.pl / PolskaTimes.pl / Gazeta.pl / RMf24.p

Poland: National Stadium subject to multiple lawsuits Just over two months after Euro 2012 the situation around Stadion Narodowy, or National Stadium, is getting more and more intense. Investors are working on lawsuits against contractors. Construction companies already filed theirs, while beneficiaries of former owner try to reclaim ground underneath the stadium…

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When construction commenced back in 2009, estimations gave total cost at some 1.25 billion zloty (€300m). As works ended a few months back, official budget rose to almost 2 billion (€460m) and some say it’s far from over yet.

Construction wars

This may prove true as court trials began in July. First, consortium of contractors (Polish PBG and Hydrobudowa along with Alpine Bau from Germany) filed against National Sports Centre (NCS) who wanted to claim 152 million zloty (€35m) from contract insurance. That money was most probably to be used for subcontractors who never received their money as Hydrobudowa and PBG announced bankruptcy. But court denied NCS right to claim the funds, leaving investors empty-handed.

Then in early August all three general contractors filed their own lawsuit, demanding a massive 461 million zloty (€110m), because according to them the real cost of National Stadium is closer to 2,5 billion than the 2 billion they received. This difference comes from some 16,000 modifications that were done to the initial design, to name just complete redesign of the pitch, its basis and supporting structure. Despite none of those changes being included in the contract, NCS demanded them done ahead of Euro 2012 and pushed both companies into insolvency – so claim PBG and Hydrobudowa.

NCS have completely different views on the case and plan on filing a counter-lawsuit, demanding 308 million (€74m) from contractors for not delivering the project on time. This again raises controversies as construction companies were given extra tasks even in May and June 2012. Contractors ask how would it be possible to finish works in December 2011, as NCS claims they should have, if the investor kept ordering extra works?

Public stadium on private land?

Stadion Narodowy was built not even in the place of, but literally on the structure of Stadion Dziesięciolecia, largest sports venue in Polish history. And that stadium in turn was located on lands taken by socialist authorities from Warsaw’s prominent citizen Arpad Chowańczak who owned over 10 hectares (or 25 acres) of land partially under what today is the National Stadium.

Chowańczak was expropriated in 1949 as Warsaw was attempting to rise again after almost complete destruction of WWII. Appeal to return the land in 1954 was rejected. However, another one came half a century later, in 2004, from his beneficiaries.

Since then public authorities have been trying to keep ownership of the land with Ministry of Transport, Construction and Maritime Economy dismissing claims twice just in late 2011. As no chance for settlement was seen by Chowańczak’s descendants, they filed a lawsuit against Polish authorities.

In July Provincial Administrative Court repealed both decisions of the Ministry and accepted claims by Chowańczak’s beneficiaries. Transport Minister was thus forced to further appeal to Supreme Administrative Court, which is the very last resort.

If the court rules that Chowańczak’s descendants are indeed the proper owners of the land, which seems likely, national treasury may be in for massive compensations that will only add to already highly criticized cost inflation of this prestigious project.

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