In Kingspan Environmental Ltd v Borealis A/S [2012] EWHC 1147 (Comm), the court dismissed a £101m claim by a building materials company (Kingspan), that purchased a polymer from the defendant for use in its production of oil tanks (which subsequently suffered failures). It was held that Kingspan had failed to establish the effective reason for the tanks’ failure.

The court held that the tank failures were not caused by “environmental stress” (the case originally argued by the claimant) or by Borealis’ polymer (the alternative allegation then adopted) but rather by inadequate manufacturing, the use of inappropriate pigments, the adoption of poor tank designs and poor quality-assurance practices on the part of Kingspan.  

As a result of this decision, Kingspan now faces a costs bill of around £20m.  

The case represents a second successful defence by Borealis of its polymer following an earlier victory in 2006 against the Balmoral Group. It also serves as a reminder to the parties in products litigation to focus their evidence on the matters they consider to be most important, rather than adopting a scattergun approach when making allegations, as Kingspan had done.