Jet Holding v. Cooper Cameron
Note: the Plaintiffs in this case have entered an appeal. The Court of Appeal in Singapore heard the appeal on 28 March and has reserved judgment
(1) Jet Holding Ltd, (2) Jet Shipping Ltd (3) Jet Drilling (S) Pte Ltd and (4) Maurel et Prom v. (1) Cooper Cameron (Singapore) Pte Ltd and (2) Stork Technology Services Asia Pte Ltd
Singapore High Court: Belinda Ang Saw Ean J.:  SGHC 149: 22 August 2005
Haridass Ho & Partners for Jet Holding Ltd and ohers
Gurbani & Co for Cooper Cameron (Singapore) Pte Ltd
Mallal & Namazie for Stork Technology Services Asia Pte Ltd
BREACH OF CONTRACT: NEGLIGENCE: NEGLIGENT MISSTATEMENT: TITLE TO SUE: IMPLIED TERMS: FAILURE TO DOCUMENT PROOF OF DAMAGES
In this case, Justice Belinda Ang cast liability on the Original Equipment Manufacturer (Cooper Cameron) of a slip joint used on board a drill ship and the sub-contractor who refurbished the slip joint (Stork) for the damage occasioned to the ship when the slip joint broke during normal operations. The Judge also found that although the owners of the ship had a contract with Cooper Cameron, this did not bar a claim in tort against Stork
DMC Category Rating: Confirmed
This case note is contributed by Ang & Partners, the International Contributor to the website for Singapore
The first Defendant, Cooper Cameron (Singapore) Pte Ltd ("Cameron") was the Original Equipment Manufacturer ("OEM") of the slip joint. The second Defendant was Stork Technology Services Asia Pte Ltd ("Stork"). Cameron had sub-contracted the refurbishment of the subject slip joint to Stork. The Plaintiffs sued Cameron for its losses and Cameron sued Stork for an indemnity.
The Plaintiffs’ case was that Stork had machined the fractured slip joint (thereby seriously reducing wall thickness) at the location where the failure occurred. Stork denied that it had machined anywhere near the location of the fracture. The Plaintiffs then contended that Stork should have at least detected the inadequate wall thickness. As against Cameron, the Plaintiffs’ principal contention was that Cameron failed properly to inspect the slip joint and to supervise Stork in the refurbishment of the fractured slip joint.
In a 55-page judgment, Justice Belinda Ang allowed the Plaintiffs’ claim and also allowed Cameron to claim for an indemnity against Stork.
2. The parties with title to sue Cameron in negligence and negligent misstatement (see 7. below) were JSL and JHL, the current registered owners. As a matter of law, only a person with either legal ownership of or possessory title to the property at the time when the loss or damage occurred could sue in negligence for damages. JHL could sue as the registered owners of the ship. As for JSL, the evidence was that after the ship was sold by JSL to JHL, JSL bareboat chartered the ship from JHL. JSL could therefore sue as disponent owners and bailee in possession. Even though JSL had a contract with Cameron, a separate duty of care in tort could still arise.
3. As against Stork, for the same reasons, the Judge found that the persons with title to sue Stork in negligence and for negligent misstatement were JSL and JHL.
4. As for MEP’s right to sue as an assignee, the Judge found that the deeds of assignment were not admitted as evidence. The assignment to MEP was therefore not proved and MEP had no standing to bring this action.
Implied terms in contract with Cameron
Cameron’s responsibility for the loss
7. The Plaintiffs’ alternative case for negligent misstatement failed on the evidence. The warranty or representation was allegedly from the statements in the Certificate of Compliance issued by Cameron after completion of the refurbishment works. As it appeared that the Certificate was issued gratuitously, it could not be treated as a warranty breached by Cameron. Furthermore, there was no proven reliance on the Certificate.
8. Cameron argued that JSL and JHL, through the conduct of their servants or agents, caused or contributed to the loss and damage. Essentially, Cameron complained that JSL and JHL did not properly maintain the slip joint, which was left amongst a pile of risers for 28 months before JSL decided to use it. Cameron also complained that JSL was negligent in failing to properly inspect the slip joint prior to using it. The Judge dismissed both complaints as she found that the alleged intervening causes were not of so powerful a nature that they had caused or contributed to the loss.
Stork’s liability for the loss
10. On the Plaintiffs’ complaint about negligent certification, the Judge agreed with Stork that their finished works report was not issued to JSL and thus there was no evidence of reliance – essential for this cause of action.
12. The Judge further found that both Cameron and Stock were equally to blame for the incident.Stork had to indemnify Cameron for 50% of Cameron’s liability to JSL and JHL.
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