Rob de Groot owns a polyester motor yacht with a 1989 Volvo diesel engine. The yacht needs a major overhaul and a number of repairs and jobs need to be done. De Groot turns to a shipyard that specializes in maintenance and repair of marine engines. In addition to an engine overhaul, De Groot asks for a coat of antifouling on the underwater hull, sealing of the seams on the deck, fitting a hatch, and he wants a bow thruster installed and the electrical system overhauled or reinstalled. After the repairs, immediately upon sailing away, the reversing clutch rattles heavily and Rob de Groot does not dare sail beyond Port Zélande. He doesn’t trust the situation and invites an expert. The experts’ conclusions are shocking: the gearbox turns out not to have been oiled and the oil has never been changed.
Furthermore, the antifouling was applied improperly and the transducers were painted along with it. Then the transducers were cleaned with a sandpaper and no longer function. Also, the yard only treated the deck very moderately and in some places only one coat was applied. As a result, salt water got between the seams and water got between deck and ceiling. The requested hatch is unsoundly attached. The usual screws are much too small and the result is that water has run inside and also got between deck and ceiling. Furthermore, the bow thruster is in the wrong place and finally the electrical installation appears to be inadequate.
The bill presented by the shipyard is not cheap. Rob de Groot replies that he will not be paying the invoice, has lost confidence and will have all repairs carried out by a third party. Not only has the work not been carried out properly, but also too many hours have been charged, according to De Groot. Furthermore, De Groot claims that he has suffered damage because he has now had to carry out some of the work himself. His counterclaim is almost as high as the invoice from the shipyard.
This brings De Groot before Mr. Hommersom. He again sets out De Groot’s objections to the invoice and the work carried out by the shipyard. Time is running out, because he wants to sell the ship. A ship with so many defects will of course fetch only a fraction of the price of a ship in good condition, but if De Groot were to have the repairs done now, he would no longer have any proof.
Because the parties have different views, an expert is appointed who is acceptable to both parties and who will give a binding opinion. Suddenly, however, the shipyard seizes the vessel, and before the surveyor can issue his report, De Groot is summoned to pay the outstanding invoice. In the court proceedings, however, it subsequently becomes apparent from the binding adviser’s conclusions that the shipyard has indeed made a large number of mistakes, and that almost half of the invoice must be deducted.
The court concludes that the conditions in the law are met and that the yard is integrally bound by the results of the binding opinion. After all, after receiving the report the shipyard had argued that it would (still) not be bound by the report, because it had not been produced according to the rules of the art. This means that since the yard has delivered faulty work, the invoice can be halved and the costs of the seizure and summons remain at the expense of the yard.
Tip: If you get into a dispute with a repairer about the quality of the work performed, get an expert (if possible appointed by both parties) to review the work performed. This will prevent you from being unable to prove that the repairer performed the work incorrectly in a later dispute about this work. Bear in mind that, unless there are weighty arguments, you should always give the repairer the opportunity (in default) to rectify his errors before letting others do so. Otherwise, you run the risk of having these costs left to your own account.