Dolphin Geophysical AS v Oranto Petroleum Ltd

Citation: EWHC 4082 (Comm)

Nature of case:
Dolphin sought an interim payment from Oranto, following the former’s conduct under contract of a seismic survey. Dolphin’s overall claim was in the amount of $12 million, in respect of which Oranto accepted that either $3 million or $2.8 million was due to Dolphin as an upfront payment for the survey, but counterclaimed for delivery up of the survey data. Dolphin therefore argued that, even if one or other of Oranto’s cases were made out, there would still be an irreducible minimum of $2.8 million due to Dolphin after trial, and that Oranto’s defence therefore amounted to an admission of liability in that amount. Oranto argued that no such admission was to be inferred, or in the alternative that any interim payment should be conditional on delivery up of the survey data.

Finding in favour of Dolphin, Hamblen J held that Oranto’s defence did amount to an admission of liability in the amount of $2.8 million. Further, that liability was in respect of an upfront payment, which would have preceded any obligation to deliver up the data produced by the survey. The delivery up of the data may have been tied up with payment of the balance, but could have no connection with the upfront payment. Therefore an interim payment would be ordered in the amount of $2.8 million, without conditions.

Counsel

Veronique Buehrlen QC

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