Multi-million pound international dispute resolved

5th January 2021

It’s disappointing and worrying when you order something and it doesn’t arrive. Imagine ordering a product worth millions of pounds, that was due to move into a brand new purpose built building, only to find yourself in a dispute over whether a binding agreement was ever made.

A client of ours was in this very position. The parties agreed they had been in negotiation but while our client said a binding agreement had been reached the seller said the negotiations had never been concluded.

Thankfully, our client can now start the new year without the burden of a large-scale dispute on their minds.

The client was a UK-based business, which trades worldwide buying and selling very large scale industrial printing machinery. They believed that they had purchased the largest single machine it had ever bought from a Polish subsidiary of a Japanese group of companies. The Japanese company was adamant that there was no contract for the purchase. In the meantime the US ultimate purchaser from our client had spent over $1.5 million building a new factory to house the machine and faced having to find an equivalent machine as a replacement. Given the highly specialist nature of the machine a replacement would be extremely difficult to source and initial enquiries suggested such a replacement would be very much more expensive than the machine in Poland and would take around 6 months to source, ship and install.

Richard Stockdale, consultant in our dispute resolution team, was able to swiftly take action, contacting the Japanese company’s head office in Tokyo setting out a claim estimated at around $5.5 million in total. They then instructed a high profile firm of Japanese lawyers to respond on their behalf raising a substantial number of legal and factual arguments and rejecting the claim. After a further round of correspondence the Japanese company backed down and agreed to sell the machine to our client at the price originally agreed in February 2020.

The matter was successfully resolved in two weeks, which given it involved international claimants and took place over Christmas and new year was incredibly impressive for all involved.

If you are facing a dispute and need some guidance, we’re here to help – get in touch.

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