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5

Yard future brighter after court win

The survival of the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast looks brighter after the firm won ...

The survival of the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast looks brighter after the firm won its appeal over an arbitration claim for more than 20m.
The jobs of more than 500 workers depended on the shipyard winning the dispute with an American oil firm, Global Marine.

Three judges in the London Court of Appeal restored the original arbitration award on Friday.

But Global Marine have said they will try to challenge the ruling in the House of Lords.

The dispute centred on work carried out at the east Belfast yard on the second of two drill ships which were being made for the US firm Global Marine.

Harlands said the vessel was ready for delivery, but Global Marine refused to accept the ship, saying that it was not completed to its satisfaction.


The shipyard's solicitor, Tim Addis-Jones, said afterwards that it would be of "enormous assistance in helping to secure a good future" for the Belfast yard.

The judges in the case had been told that survival of Harland and Wolff depended upon the outcome of the appeal.

Problems had arisen out of an overspend on work to complete the drillships.

The Belfast yard said a final payment of ?21m should be paid on the contract.

Following Friday's case, Global Marine issued a statement saying: "We believe that our position is consistent with the parties' agreement during negotiation of the contract.

"Harland and Wolff's inability to deliver two drillships on time and for the price agreed has been very detrimental to Global Marine and Harland and Wolff's own workforce.

"We believe the ruling in favor of Global Marine by the High Court in London was the correct decision and look forward to making our case to the House of Lords."

Harland owner, Norwegian shipping magnate Fred Olsen, had previously taken a swipe at the US company, accusing it of trying to sink the yard.


Its parent company said that the shipyard made a loss of under ?2m in the first three months of this year.

During that period the company had sales of only ?6m.

Olsen Energy said recent contracts had reduced under-utilisation at the yard, while work on two ferries for the MoD builds up.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Harland and Wolff had won a contract to build parts of a new roll-on-roll-off ferry terminal in Liverpool.

In March, Harland and Wolff won an order to build a bridge across the Liffey in Dublin city centre.

The contracts were seen as vital to the company's survival after it laid off half of its 1,200 strong workforce in September 2000, due to an empty order book.

Harlands lost more than 26m last year.

news.bbc.co.uk