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Builder wins damages case against Republic of Turkey

The Republic of Turkey has been forced to pay a Melbourne builder $693,824 after losing a damages claim over its consul’s palatial $4 million Toorak mansion.
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Builder Ralph Mackie, the sole director of the Mackie Group of Companies, won the damages after a 23-day hearing at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ended a long-running and costly building dispute.

The spat between Mr Mackie and Turkey arose after the builder was contracted in 2009 to construct a new three-storey home on Toorak Road for the then-Turkish consul general Seyit Mehmet Apak and his wife and young children.

The palatial six-bedroom house had a large reception room on the ground floor, a 25-seat dining room and industrial-scale kitchens to serve eminent guests.

After the residence was finished in 2012, Mr Apak and Turkey alleged it had major defects and took Mr Mackie to both the Supreme and County Court.

The alleged major defects included a draughty roof access skylight, incorrectly installed windows, a defective hydronic heating system and cracked parquetry flooring, some of which were later fixed by Mr Mackie.

The dispute then went to VCAT where Mr Mackie launched a large claim against Turkey for variations and agreed variations to the building contract of $360,000, delay costs of $232,331 and $264,000 in liquidated damages.

Turkey denied liability and filed a counterclaim that joined to the proceedings the Melbourne architecture firm Tectura, who designed the consul’s home.

Tribunal member Robert Davis dismissed Turkey’s counterclaim and required Tectura to pay the Republic $119,664 to help cover Mr Mackie’s damages claim.

A decision on legal costs was reserved and the parties will make submissions on who gets to keep a further $123,641 lodged as security by Mr Mackie.

Mr Mackie told BusinessDay it was unfortunate the dispute had to go to court.

“These disputes are completely unnecessary. It’s important for people to sit down and work them out.”

“We’re lucky to have a judicial system as good as this. You take your grievances to court and get a fair hearing,” he said.

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