Alex Mulder had a motor yacht. When the diesel engines needed replacement, he had new ones installed. At the commissioning, things already went wrong. He heard a disturbing rattle and a ticking sound and noticed excessive smoke. Mulder immediately contacted the shipyard which contacted the supplier. The latter refused to deal with the complaint. Alex could have a professional examination carried out at his own expense. But the costs were prohibitive (about €5,000).
Because the supplier did not cooperate, Mulder and the shipyard did their own research. Mr. Mulder had measurements performed on the propeller shaft and thrust bearings. Heavier damper plates were mounted and some flywheel reinforcement was applied. After all these modifications, the rattling noises at an idle speed of about 700-720 had disappeared, but this could not solve the problem definitively because at that speed the speed of the ship was much too high. He would have major problems on routes where he couldn’t or wouldn’t go fast.
By now Mulder had been at it for ten weeks. Although he was able to sail, there were constant rattling noises at RPMs below 720 and a periodic ticking sound appeared at higher RPMs. Smoke developments and oil film were by now standard. A second service had already been carried out by the supplier, but still the problems (tooth hammer) were not solved. Because the supplier did not change his mind, Alex Mulder had the professional examination, a “torsional vibration calculation” carried out after a year. The report showed that the fault did not lie in the propeller shaft installation installed by the yard, as the supplier claimed, but the supplier still persisted in his position that the speed had to be increased as a solution. A new report showed that the quality of both engines was seriously inadequate. Mulder had had enough, especially when the supplier, after being held formally liable, reported that almost two years had passed since the purchase and there was only a one-year warranty. To top it all off, the supplier claimed that because Alex Mulder had started experimenting with solutions himself, the ‘scope of delivery’ had changed and the supplier would therefore no longer be obliged to fulfill its obligations.
The matter was brought before the court which had a clear opinion. Mulder had filed a timely complaint with the supplier. The fact that this had taken so long that the warranty period had already expired, did not matter to the court. The supplier had to deliver new motors.
IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE AGREEMENT
Meanwhile, various court rulings have established that a warranty period as such is not decisive for the right to compensation of damages. What is important is that the goods meet the expectations you had of them and that they have the properties of which you did not have to doubt their absence. If you buy a boat of undoubtedly many thousands of euros and you have always maintained it properly, but the engine breaks down after three years, then in all probability a court will rule that the seller has not delivered in accordance with the contract. In such cases you do not have to accept the seller’s notification that the warranty period has expired, but you can insist on performance of the contract, at least repair of the engine at the seller’s expense or perhaps even replacement. For the record, I do note that the extent to which the buyer can still be held liable after the warranty period has expired naturally differs from case to case. Important: you must notify the seller of the defect within ‘reasonable time’ after you have discovered it. In practice, this is about two months. It is also important that, in principle, you must have sued the seller within two years of discovering the defect.
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