In France it is usual for the courts to appoint their own expert surveyor, who will review all the evidence available and present their own findings to the court.
The court expert was appointed and, whilst slightly critical of the naval architect’s work, he insisted that the criticism was in respect of minor issues only and that these would not have affected the overall structural integrity of the vessel as alleged by the claimant. The naval architect’s defence was based on the problems being caused by (a) a change to their drawings without their consent, and/or (b) the use of inappropriate or inadequate materials, and/or (c) the incompetence of the shipyard in Thailand.
Despite the findings of the court expert, the claimant decided to pursue their claim. The claimant lodged an application with the court to have the court expert replaced as they disagreed with his findings. Ultimately, this application was unsuccessful and the matter progressed to trial in the Court of Marseille. The Court’s decision was completely in favour of the naval architect, who was also awarded EUR 3,000 towards their legal costs (which totalled EUR 40,000 and were covered by ITIC).