Geoquip Marine Operations AG v Tower Resources Cameroon SA and another [2022] EWHC 531 (Comm) | ZFZ Postcard Cases

The claimant (“Geoquip”) entered into a contract (the “Contract”) with the first defendant (“Tower Cameroon”) for Geoquip to provide offshore geotechnical investigation services for Tower Cameroon.

The services were delayed as Tower Cameroon failed to obtain the relevant licenses and permits on time, delaying the vessel to proceed to the work site. Nonetheless, Geoquip carried out its geotechnical investigation services and sent an invoice to Tower Cameroon on time, who argued that the payment is not due yet. Geoquip brought a claim against Tower Cameroon to recover (i) the agreed sum to be payable for the services provided under the contract and (ii) the standby charges due to the delays suffered by the vessel.

The court held, among other things, that the claimant was only entitled to the agreed sum of the services and was unable to claim standby costs under the contract, nor as a matter of estoppel by convention. Geoquip was entitled to the agreed sum as it was conditional upon completion of the services required to be performed by Geoquip, and there were no provisions which stipulated that Tower Cameroon was excused from paying an invoice which was issued in time.

Regarding the standby charges, the court considered Geoquip’s entitlement of the charges on the basis of (i) contract and (ii) estoppel by convention. Pursuant to the terms of the contract, Geoquip was not entitled to standby costs. On the basis of estoppel by convention, Geoquip was not entitled to standby charges as there were no relevant common assumption shared between Geoquip and Tower Cameroon, nor assumptions made by Geoquip and acquiesced in by Tower Cameroon, nor that there were assumed responsibility by Tower Cameroon.

For more information on this decision, please reach out to Jacqueline Tam or click here.