Nineteenth-century yacht sinks

A marine surveyor was instructed to determine the suitability for towage to a drydock of a steel hulled yacht built in the nineteenth century.  The surveyor produced his preliminary report which stated that, although the yacht needed a major re-fit, the towage could be undertaken subject to certain stringent requirements.

The yacht was safely towed to the drydock, where the hull was sand-blasted and the yacht refloated.  It then became obvious that water was entering the hull at several points and the yacht was put back into drydock.

After repairs the yacht was again refloated but sank at her moorings and became a total loss.

The hull underwriters declined to settle the owner's claim, and the owner commenced legal proceedings against them.  The surveyor was joined into these proceedings as a Third Party by the bull underwriters, on the grounds that they had relied on the preliminary survey report when deciding to insure the yacht.

The Club's lawyers were ultimately successful in having the surveyor struck out of the main action between owners and underwriters, as he had only provided a towage suitability survey, but at a considerable cost.

It is obvious from the above case that the surveyor was innocent of any negligence, but it illustrates the costs that can be incurred in defending an unjustified claim.

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