The UK Supreme Court has delivered its verdict on the long-running dispute over foundation issues at the Robin Rigg offshore wind farm. The 174MW wind farm, which is positioned between Scotland and England, experienced issues shortly after completion by Danish contractor MT Højgaard. The contract expressly required the foundations to have a lifetime of 20 years. Unfortunately, due to reliance on an incorrect mathematical formula within international standards (and included in the technical requirements for the contract), this lifetime was severely reduced.
The Supreme Court held that MT Højgaard was fully liable as ‘The technical requirements expressly prescribe only a minimum standard. It was the contractor – ie, MT Højgaard’s – responsibility to identify areas where the works needed to be designed in a more rigorous way’. The contractor’s obligation to design and construct foundations with a lifetime of 20 years could not be trumped by adherence to international standards – even ones specified in the contract.
The judgment may come as a shock to some, and is one that all contractors should be aware of. It ultimately proves that the wording of the contract is key – parties should be very clear from the outset about the standard to which the works are designed or constructed.