The Lost Buoys
A marine surveyor was asked by their client to review the suitability of a proposed mooring arrangement of a buoy weighing 250 tonnes and measuring 12m in diameter. The buoy was ultimately to be used by ships loading iron sands at a remote port.
Prior to being deployed for use, the buoy was placed on a temporary mooring within a harbour. During a storm, the mooring chain broke and the buoy washed up on a beach.
The owner of the buoy incurred costs of US$ 1.8m in recovering the buoy from the beach and repairing it.
The owner alleged that the surveyor had been negligent in:
- identifying the mooring load calculation;
- assessing the wind and wave load that the buoy would have been exposed to; and
- assessing the mooring capacity.
The owner issued proceedings to recover their alleged losses. Both parties engaged their own set of experts and, as the trial approached, it became clear that the case would turn entirely on the expert evidence and how convincing each expert would appear in court. Therefore, defending the claim was not without much risk for both parties.
Shortly before the trial was due to begin, the plaintiff put forward an offer of settlement. This was rejected but allowed settlement talks to begin. Ultimately, the matter was settled by the marine surveyor for US$ 450,000. Whilst this was a large sum it was significantly less than the original claimed amount. The settlement sum and legal fees of US$ 100,000 were covered by ITIC.