Mr. Boone thought he was buying an original Breehorn. After the purchase it turned out to be a self-built ship, for which Breehorn had only built the hull and the engine.
Recently in the newspaper: a painting attributed to Rembrandt turns out to be by one of his pupils! This setback, which has not only artistic but also ﬁnancial consequences, can also occur with ships. Recently, for example, a ship was sold as an original Pieter Beeldsnijder design, while according to the buyer it was his restyling of an existing type of ship. But Mr. Boone’s case also came up in my practice recently: Mr. Boone is an Englishman and saw an advertisement that talked in glowing terms about a very beautiful Breehorn 37 in fantastic condition. An absolute must-have.
Mr. Boone went to see the seller who showed him the boat. Indeed, it was a beautiful boat and at first sight also in reasonable condition. With the praise of the yard Breehorn and the therefore assumed quality Mr. Boone was convinced. Unfortunately (in retrospect) he had not sufficiently realized the consequences of the provision in the contract about the right of inspection, which unfortunately still occurs in purchase contracts. That provision means that the right to inspection exists only after the conclusion of the contract and that there is a right to termination only if there are defects of which the repair costs, for example, are more than ten percent of the purchase price.
At that inspection the condition of the Breehorn was judged to be good overall. There was only a problem with the gas installation. Since technical documentation was missing, the surveyor went to investigate and then found that the vessel did not have a CE mark. Since the vessel was from after 1998, it should have one. The yard came up with the curious statement, “The ship was finished by the first owner.” Huh, thought Boone, I did buy an original Breehorn 37 after all? The seller then confessed that he had not mentioned in the brochure that although there was a hull and engine built by Breehorn on his behalf, he had done the further construction of the ship – interior, deck and rigging – himself.
Now it was all over! Mr. Boone had lost his confidence in the ship and refused to take it back. The seller threatened with legal action and Mr. Boone visited Mr. Hommersom. Had the seller now or not delivered what the parties had agreed upon? Mr. Boone stated that the suggestion that this was an original Breehorn had been a decisive argument for him to buy the vessel. Also, now that it was known that it was not an original Breehorn, the value of the vessel would be ten to thirty percent lower. To what extent was the seller now to be blamed for not saying that he had finished the ship himself?
Reasoning to the letter, the buyer should of course have fully informed Boone and, for example, stated in the advertisement that he had finished the ship himself. The tension lay in the fact that the brochure mentioned a Breehorn and that strictly speaking the seller had also delivered a Breehorn, namely a hull and engine built by Breehorn, even with HIN number. It was then up to Mr. Boone to prove that for him the consideration that it was a completely original Breehorn had been decisive, and that he would have said so in so many words to the seller.
A tricky problem. What was his loss? The surveyor had found that the boat had been very skilfully finished by the seller and on some parts was even more solidly built than the original Breehorn version. That left only the argument of the supposed decrease in value, but that again would have to be proven by Boone, with all the expertise and procedural costs that would entail.
I finally reached a solution. The defects that had been found were remedied by the Breehorn shipyard. Although it was a self-built vessel and in principle did not need to be CE marked, a so-called ‘post construction inspection’ was carried out and the certificate was issued. This restored Mr Boone’s confidence in the ship.
Tip: if it is important to you that the ship is built by a particular yard or from a speciﬁc designer, always make it explicitly clear to the seller that these characteristics are very important to you and also ask for documentary evidence of the ship’s originality before concluding the contract.
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