A contractor’s design for wind turbine foundations complied with the international standard specified in the contract but the standard was flawed, the foundations failed and remedial works cost €26.25million. The contractor had not been negligent but two other contract provisions required the foundations to have a service life of 20 years. A design and build contractor can have a double obligation, to comply with relevant specifications and standards and to achieve a particular result but was that the position for this contractor? The first instance court said it was; the two terms were consistent. A year later, the Court of Appeal came to the opposite conclusion.

Applying the rules of contractual interpretation to contractual documents of multiple authorship, which contain much loose wording”, Lord Justice Jackson said the two paragraphs containing the 20 year service life obligation were inconsistent with all the other contractual provisions and insufficient to justify a finding of a warranty for the foundations of a 20 year life. He noted that contractual interpretation is an iterative process, which involves checking each rival meaning against the other contractual provisions and investigating its commercial consequences. The court must accept that there are likely to be ambiguities and inconsistencies in the documents and must not allow itself to be led astray by those ambiguities and inconsistencies.

MT Højgaard A/S v E.On Climate A nd Renewables UK Robin Rigg East Ltd & A nor [2015] EWCA Civ407