U.K. builder ordered to pay more than $1.5 million for faulty boat


Discovery Yachts was ordered by a U.K. court to pay more than $1.5 million after the owner of one of its sailboats filed a lawsuit against the company. The Southampton builder also announced that its managing director, Sean Langdon, was stepping down.

Discovery Yachts Group employs more than 100 workers in Southampton. The company was formed two years ago by Langdon, who led a management buyout. Advertiser & Times reported that Langdon was replaced by group sales director John Burnie.

Discovery last month filed for administration to protect itself from financial insolvency in the lawsuit by Andrew France, who purchased a 58-foot sailboat in 2017 for more $1 million. France said during the trial that he wanted the boat, Elusive, to be fit for extended periods at sea, but the boat had structural problems that worsened with a trans-Atlantic passage.

“The yacht appears to have been delivered hurriedly and before it was ready to be delivered. It was delivered without an adequate sea trial or commissioning,” wrote the judge in the case. “On the first day of her maiden voyage the mast collar began to leak, and on 15th January 2017 the forward cabin was flooded with water because of an unfinished cable penetration in the watertight bulkhead.”

The court noted that repairs were carried out after the boat crossed the Atlantic, but they were unsuccessful. “[Mr. France] did not have the enjoyment and pleasure which he had justifiably expected,” the judge said. “A very large number of days was spent waiting in marinas for repairs to be done. I consider that to describe the use he had of the yacht as a benefit would be an abuse of language.”

After the boat was shipped back to England, the judge wrote that a maritime expert described “numerous significant defects” that would require a “very high” cost to repair to the standard that France had originally paid for.

The judge ruled that Discovery Yacht Sales Ltd. should pay $1.2 million (911,000 pounds) in compensation to France, given the yacht’s current value of $805,000 (610,000 pounds) with repairs, and that Discovery Yachts Group should pay another $347,000 (263,000 pounds), plus the costs of any further repairs. The builder was also ordered to pay $569,000 (432,000 pounds) in legal fees and court costs.

Announcing Langdon’s departure, the company released a statement saying that a” variety of matters affecting the Discovery Yachts Group have now been progressed.” The statement did not refer to the lawsuit.

“Primarily action has been taken to secure the future of the overall business and to place it in a strong position to facilitate further investment and growth,” Burnie said. “Our shipyard is a specialist operation building world-class, luxury bluewater yachts. Following a restructuring of the business, the group has now been refinanced, enabling it to continue and participate in that unique yacht building tradition with confidence.”

The statement noted that operations at the yard are “completely unaffected” by the change in management. The company said it would be showing a new boat at the Düsseldorf show this month. “Further statements will be issued appropriately and in due course,” the statement reads.


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