Thursday, December 30, 2010
We love websites that provide links to actual legal decisions. As Leopold von Ranke put it, you need to consult original sources in order to reconstruct events wie es eigentlich gewesen, and that is our aspiration here. So, we tip our collective hat to Information Age.com for providing this full account with a link to the full opinion in the DeBeers case against Atos Origin.
The case involved an integration project that Atos Origin undertook for DeBeers. The purpose of the project was to integrate DeBeers' supply chain systems in Botswana. After numerous delays and mutual recriminations, the project fell apart in 2008. DeBeers had stopped payment in March in order to express its dissatisfaction with the delays and with the quality of the work done. Atos Origin threatened to stop work in May unless the agreement could be renegotiated. Atos Origin made good on its threat in June. Both parties claimed that the other repudiated the contract. The opinion runs to 382 numbered paragraphs and contains lots of juicy details about a relationship broken beyond repair. I will cut to the chase.
Although Justice Edwards-Stuart of the UK's Technology and Construction Court in the High Court of Justice found that DeBeers was partially responsible for the project delays that precipitated the breach, he still found Atos liable to the tune of nearly £1 million for breach of contract. Atos Origin stopped working on the project, on the ground that the project had changed fundamentally from its original scope. The court found the breach to be willful and deliberate but did not award DeBeers the full £8.3 million in damages it sought because its actions caused losses to Atos Origin.
DeBeers is now going to have to complete the project on its own.