Stapelberg Vervoer has been found liable for loss of earnings after two telehandlers it was trucking from Gqeberha to Cape Town were damaged.

A TimesLIVE report says the legal impasse dates back to 2015 when Nordicbau Master Builder & Renovator bought two telehandlers from Belgium. They were shipped to Gqeberha and the company hired Stapelberg Vervoer to transport the equipment to Cape Town.

But both telehandlers were damaged in transit.

Nordicbau sued Stapelberg for R2.12m for loss of earnings in the Eastern Cape High Court (Gqeberha). Nordicbau asked the court to determine whether it was entitled to ‘additional damages’ over and ‘above those of the replacement costs and repairs’.

Judge Elna Revelas has now ruled in favour of Nordicbau.

‘In the present matter, (Stapelberg) is not in a position to dispute that it was a carrier for goods for reward by land and that through its negligence or the negligence of its employees the two telehandlers were substantially damaged,’ she wrote.

‘The fact that both telehandlers were damaged when carried by different vehicles and both fell off the load beds onto which they were loaded, strongly suggests that neither were properly affixed to the vehicles that had to transport them to their destination. Clearly (Stapelberg) had breached the carriage contract. As a result ... the telehandlers could not be used for the purpose for which they were purchased and it follows logically that (Nordicbau) was deprived of income during the time they were either repaired or replaced, whichever the case may be.’

Revelas found that Nordicbau had proved Stapelberg was liable for its ‘consequential damages, in the form of a loss of income, sustained as a result of (Stapelberg’s) breach of the carriage contract concluded between the parties’.

The quantum is yet to be determined.

Full TimesLIVE report