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Warranty period versus reasonable economic life

Because the engine supplier was uncooperative, Pietersen and the shipyard went to work on the engine themselves. For example, Pietersen had the yard take measurements on the propeller shaft and thrust bearings. Heavier damper plates were mounted and the flywheel was made heavier. After almost two years of misery, a ‘torsion vibration calculation’ eventually showed that the fault lay in the engines and not in the installation by the yard. The supplier then claimed that Pietersen had forfeited its rights, because two years had passed since the motors were installed and there was only a one-year warranty on them. Fortunately, the court was clear: Pietersen had complained to the supplier on time. The fact that the investigation and repair had taken so much time that the warranty had expired, did not matter to the court. The supplier had to deliver new motors.

Warranty period vs. reasonable economic life.
The court has ruled before that a warranty period as such is not decisive for the right to compensation for damages suffered. What is important is that the item meets the expectations that the customer may have and has the right properties. If you buy a boat worth many thousands of euros and you have always had it professionally maintained, but the engine breaks down after three years, it is very likely that a court will decide that the seller has not delivered ‘in accordance with the agreement’. In such cases you do not have to accept the seller’s notification that the warranty period has expired. You may demand performance of the contract, in this case repair of the engine at the seller’s expense or perhaps even replacement.

Caution! The extent to which the seller can still be held liable after the warranty period has expired varies from case to case. Important: you must notify the seller of the defect within ‘reasonable time’ after you have discovered it: the ‘obligation to complain’. In practice, this is about 2/3 months. It is also important to note that, in principle, you must have sued the seller within two years of discovering the defect.

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