Case details

Bahamasair Holdings Limited (Appellant) v Messier Dowty Inc (Respondent) (Bahamas)

Case ID: JCPC 2017/0053

Jurisdiction: The Court of Appeal of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas

Case summary

Issue
  1. Was the Court of Appeal entitled to overturn particular findings made by the trial judge? These include the findings: (a) that there was a defect or inadequacy in the design of the damper ring in the shock strut of the landing gear which collapsed and (b) that the appellant had been aware of that problem and changed its design as a result, but failed to warn the respondent about it.
  2. If not, is it open to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council to consider the issue of damages?
  3. If so, has the appellant proved the loss which it claims?
Facts

The appellant is the operator of Bahamasair, the national airline of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Its aircraft was landing in the Bahamas on 20 April 2007 when the left-hand main landing gear collapsed. The respondent is a company based in Ontario, Canada, which manufactured the landing gear fitted to the aircraft. The landing gear had a "discard limit" of 60,000 cycles of take-off and landing.

In November 2011 the appellant brought proceedings against the respondent, alleging that parts of the collapsed landing gear had been defective and/or were incapable of tolerating the usage which the respondent had recommended. The appellant sought damages in the sum of US$3,484,459.00, which was said to represent the loss of the aircraft and the cost of accident investigation and assessment. In response, the respondent alleged that the appellant had caused the landing gear to collapse by failing to maintain it properly.

At trial, the Chief Justice found that the accident was caused by inadequacies in the landing gear shock strut, which acts as a shock absorber. Specifically, the upper bearing and damper ring were found to be inadequate for the recommended number of cycles of take-off and landing. He also found that the respondent knew of that risk and failed to warn the appellant. He held that the respondent had not proved that the appellant negligently failed to maintain the aircraft. The appellant was awarded the full sum claimed.

The Court of Appeal of the Bahamas held that finding of the Chief Justice was unreasonable and could not be supported by the evidence. The appellant seeks the restoration of the original order.

Parties

Appellant

Bahamasair Holdings Limited

Respondent

Messier Dowty Inc

Appeal

Justices

Lord Kerr, Lord Wilson, Lord Hughes, Lady Black, Lord Lloyd-Jones

Hearing start date

15 Mar 2018

Hearing finish date

15 Mar 2018