The liability of persons a contract party uses to fulfil its obligations under a contract.

Supreme Court judgment 27 May 2020, HR-2020-1120-A, (case no. 19-151066SIV-HRET), civil case, appeal against judgment. 

The State represented by the Ministry of Transport (The Office of the Attorney General represented by Håvard Hansen Holdø) v. Alf Brekken og Sønner AS (Counsel Trond Skogly)

Justices: Indreberg, Møse, Normann, Falch, Høgetveit Berg

A contractor having been engaged by the Norwegian Coastal Administration to carry out improvement works on a breakwater had hired a subcontractor to transport rock mass to the work place. While towing a barge loaded with rock, the towboat lost control of the barge, which drifted into and crushed a seamark. The Supreme Court found that the main contractor could not be held liable for the damage based on the non-statutory liability of any person the contract party uses to fulfil its obligations under the contract (kontraktshjelperansvar). It was mentioned that the scope of such liability must be determined after an individual assessment in each case. The seamark was part of the public infrastructure in the area, and it seemed to be a coincidence that the seamark and the contractual object – the breakwater – had the same owner. The Coastal Administration could then not be in a stronger position towards the main contractor than if the damage had been caused by someone else moving in the harbour.

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