In 2010 the “Acergy Falcon”, a sophisticated pipe-laying vessel used for oil and gas exploration, suffered at serious fire while in drydock for repairs at Brest. The fire took place in the “carousel” hold, which contained a “carousel”, a sort of drum from which undersea pipes could be unwound. The fire was said to have caused loss of more than €50m.
The shipowner, Acergy, sued the shiprepair company, the Société Bretonne de Reparation Navale (“Sobrena”) to recover for the damage suffered. Both parties alleged the fire was the other party’s fault. On 6 October 2011, Mr Justice David Steel determined preliminary issues in Sobrena’s favour. He held that, irrespective of fault, the interlocking indemnity provisions in the shiprepair contract meant that Sobrena was only liable to indemnify Acergy in respect of the damage to the Works it was doing or had done, and that it did not have to indemnify Acergy in respect of the damage to the vessel as a whole, or in respect of the damage to the carousel. Responsibility for damage to the vessel was governed by Article 10.2, which imposed responsibility on Acergy.
Sobrena was represented by Thomas Raphael.