Misdescription of ship’s coating

Sale and purchase brokers representing the sellers of a vessel received a list of questions from the buyer's brokers including one as to whether the ship's underwater parts were painted with "SPC Colours".

The sale and purchase brokers failed to see the significance of this and after checking with sellers informed the buyers' brokers that the hull had been painted in 1989. 

The paint used at that time was a standard anti-fouling product whereas "SPC" is an abbreviation for self polishing copolymer, a specialist type of anti-fouling paint. After the ship had been delivered the buyers attempted to recover the costs of coating the hull with "SPC" paint which involved dry docking, sand blasting, loss of hire etc.  The Club resisted the claim on the grounds that the buyers were only entitled to recover the difference in the value of the ship with and without the "SPC" coating and not the cost of having the work done.  If the vessel had been "SPC" painted in 1989 by the time the description was made some two to three years later it would in fact have been considerably worn and need renewing in any event.  The Club was ultimately able to settle the claim for US$ 40,000 which was a mere 10% of the amount originally claimed.

The claim is a reminder of the need to take particular care in answering questionnaires provided by buyers.

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