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Wind Turbine Accident Triggers Rash of Litigation

wind turbineIn a classic example of an incident that lasted just seconds giving rise to international litigation on a grand scale, a mishap in which an 87-tonne wind turbine fell off a lorry and embedded itself in an Irish peat bog gave rise to two sets of proceedings in England and another in Denmark.

A Danish company had engaged an English firm which specialised in handling abnormal loads to move the turbine to a wind farm in Ireland. The latter had in turn subcontracted with an Irish haulage company to actually move the load to its intended location. It was during that journey that the accident occurred.

The hauliers launched proceedings against the Danish company, which sought a declaration that the English courts had no jurisdiction to consider the matter. It was submitted that the Danish company had not directly contracted with the hauliers and that there was no acceptance that English jurisdiction provisions would apply.

However, in dismissing that application, the Commercial Court found that there was a good arguable case that the specialist firm with which the Danish company contracted had been acting as its agent, rather than as a principal, when it subcontracted the work to the hauliers.

In those circumstances it was also arguable that the Danish company had consented to English jurisdiction in the form of standard terms employed by the British International Freight Association and/or the Road Haulage Association. It was common ground between the parties that the action should in any event be stayed pending the outcome of parallel proceedings in Denmark.