Fredrikstad Seafoods has to pay EUR 2,2 million in compensation to Gråkjær

Stian Olsen

Fredrikstad District Court has made a decision in regard to a construction dispute case between Fredrikstad Seafoods and Gråkjær.

Last year Fredrikstad Seafoods sued the supply company Gråkjær, as well as Swedish Inhouse Tech and If Skadeförsäkring. The lawsuit was triggered by a design error, which created a dispute between Fredrikstad Seafoods and Gråkjær. This disagreement delayed the construction of the land based salmon farm in Fredrikstad for several months.

Fredrikstad Seafoods believed Gråkjær was responsible for the design error and demanded EUR 12,8 million in compensation from the supplier. The claim included, among other things, the costs Fredrikstad Seafoods had suffered in relation with the claim. Gråkjær, in turn, demanded EUR 4 million from Fredrikstad Seafoods. In addition, Fredrikstad Seafoods also filed a claim against its consulting engineer geotechnics (RIG) – Inhouse Tech and their liability insurance – If Skadeforsikring.

Fredrikstad Seafoods also terminated the contract in June 2018 following the damaging case, this led to a disagreement as to whether there was a foundation for cancelling the contract.

The main proceedings began on September 9th 2019 in Fredrikstad District Court. The trial was finalized on January 8 after it was first postponed because Gråkjær’s lawyer was on sick leave.

Illegal termination of contract
Gråkjær has now been found not guilty. In the verdict from Fredrikstad District Court, Gråkjær is entitled to additional compensation and receives an extended period for the establishment of a new foundation with a reinforced base plate, as well as the right to additional compensation and extension for the injuries that occurred on the conduit under module 2 and for the reconstruction thereof.

“Fredrikstad Seafoods AS’s termination of the contract with Gråkjær AS was unfair,” the verdict further states.

Fredrikstad Seafoods is ordered to pay EUR 2,2 million in compensation to Gråkjær. In addition, the land-based farm is sentenced to pay EUR 1,5 million in legal expenses to the Danish company.

In a final statement before the trial, attorney Espen Nyland from “Kluge law firm”, representing Fredrikstad Seafoods, wrote that if the court were to grant Gråkjær all or part of its rights and claims, Fredrikstad Seafoods would require Inhouse Tech and If Skadeförsäkring to pay compensation to Gråkjær – in addition to the expenses suffered by the land based farmer because of the delays.

Considering appeal
In regards to the legal remedy, the court has found that Inhouse Tech and If Skadeförsäkring are condemned to pay EUR 1,36 million in compensation to Fredrikstad Seafoods, where If Skadeförsäkring’s liability is limited to EUR 520.000.

Inhouse Tech and If Skadeförsäkring are also obliged to pay EUR 235.000 in legal costs to Fredrikstad Seafoods.

SalmonBusines has tried to contact CEO Bernt-Olav Røttingsnes in Nordic Aquafarms but has not received a response.

Fredrikstad Seafood’s lawyer Espen Nyland says they received the verdict a short time ago.

“We think the verdict is wrong, and we must now consider an appeal,” says Nyland to SalmonBusiness.

Partner Johnny Johansen from the law firm Haavind, representing Gråkjær, comments on the verdict in an email to SalmonBusiness:

“We are pleased that the court has chosen to emphasize our arguments in its assessment of the case. Fredrikstad Seafoods must take responsibility for the fact that the plant had to be redesigned, and the extra costs this entailed. They also had no basis for terminating the contract with our client Gråkjær.”