Approximately 80 people were injured, 78 people made instantly homeless, residential properties damaged and 28 businesses closed.
The New Ferry gas explosion was caused by a local shop owner, Mr Pascal Blasio, who was the sole Director of ‘Homes in Style’.
On 23 October 2019, Mr Blasio was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison after a three week trial in which he was found guilty of causing an explosion likely to endanger life and fraud in relation to an insurance claim submitted to his insurers NFU Mutual following the explosion.
At a previous hearing the company that supplied the gas to Blasio’s property, Contract Natural Gas (CNG), pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and were fined £320,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 towards the prosecution costs.
Now, local law firm, Phoenix Solicitors are pursuing claims for 61 people, 57 of whom were injured in the explosion and four who suffered damage to their properties.
The claims are being brought against Contract Natural Gas (CNG), who have gone in to administration, Aviva and QBE insurance who are the insurers of CNG, as well as Cadent Gas Limited.
On 25 April 2023 the High Court in Liverpool will consider the matters and provide directions to the parties as to how the claims are to proceed. It is alleged that every property has a unique number which identifies the gas supply to the property, which is held on a central database.
An employee of Contract Natural Gas attended the premises at 41-43 Bebington Road and identified that the unique number MPRN5500 was in respect of the gas supply to number 43 Bebington Road and not 41 Bebington Road. As such the employees of CNG removed the gas meter supply to MPRN5500.
A Meter Removal Engineer removed the gas supply MPRN5500 but incorrectly stated that the address of the gas supply was 41 Bebington Road not 43 Benington Road. CNG informed the central database that the meter to the gas supply has been removed.
Both CNG and Cadent Gas were then under a duty to physically disconnect the gas supply with the unique number MPRN5500 to the mains within 12 months. On two occasions a Cadent Gas employee attended the premises to physically disconnect the gas supply MRPN5500 from the mains but as they could not find it, they left.
As a result of the failure of CNG and Cadent Gas to disconnect the gas supply, Blasio used the gas supply to cause an explosion so that he could make a claim on his insurance.
CNG and Cadent Gas deny liability for their failings.
Phoenix Solicitors will be asking the Court on 25 April to give directions for a “split trial” on liability, meaning that if accepted by the Court, the Court will list the matter for a liability trial to decide whether CNG and/or Cadent Natural Gas contributed to Blasio causing the explosion, by failing to disconnect the gas supply.
If either of the companies is found to have contributed then they will face claims for in excess of £3 million on behalf of all of those who are bringing claims against them.