A contractor which was ordered to pay more than €26 million in damages after the foundations of a number of offshore wind turbines failed – through no fault of its own – has had its bill cut to a nominal £10 by the Court of Appeal.
Structural problems with the turbines’ foundations were discovered soon after their erection. It was agreed that there had been no negligence or want of professional skill on the part of the contractor. It had carried out the work in accordance with accepted industry standards, which had turned out to be seriously flawed.
However, a judge ordered the contractor to bear the full cost of remedying the defects on the basis that it had contracted to provide foundations which would have a service life of 20 years. Regardless of the absence of fault, that result had not been achieved and the foundations were not fit for purpose.
In allowing the contractor’s appeal, the Court found that – although it was required to exercise due care and skill and adhere to good industry practice – it had given no absolute warranty that the foundations would have a 20-year operational life. The contractor had failed to provide test data in accordance with the contract but that had caused no loss to its energy company clients. In those circumstances, only nominal sums in damages were payable.