British Ports engaged Hydro Soil Services to carry out strengthening works to quay wall 205 at Southampton. The contract was a lump sum contract based on the ICE conditions as amended. Hydro in turn engaged Haecon NV to carry out the design of the strengthening works to the quay wall. The design required ground anchors to be attached to the steel wall, and also the insertion of high pressure vertical grout columns along the berth.

While the work was being carried out the sheet piles cracked and bulged. In some places the bulging was almost a metre from the original installed position. Remedial work was clearly needed.

British Ports claimed damages for the breach of contract, and the contractor brought a counter claim under clause 12 for unforeseen physical conditions. In addition, a claim was made against Haecon for their design. British Ports argued that the works were not fit for their purpose and that Hydro should pay for all rectification of work.

Was the contractor responsible for the defects, and were the defects a result of the workmanship or design?