Battle for super yacht commission

Posted: 19th December 2014

YachtsAt what point does an agent’s introduction of an eventual buyer become an ‘effective cause’ of the sale? The Court of Appeal will consider that vital issue as brokers battle for a 10 per cent commission on the €19.8 million sale of a super yacht.

The brokers claimed that they had been orally instructed to market the 47-metre yacht by the seller and that, pursuant to that agreement, they had shown the buyer around the vessel. The latter purchased the yacht 19 months later and the brokers claimed that they had been instrumental in achieving the sale.

The seller insisted that he had given no firm instructions to the brokers to market the vessel and that he had agreed the sale privately. A judge accepted his arguments and found that the sale was a ‘new transaction’ to which the brokers had not materially contributed.

Challenging that decision, the brokers’ legal team argued that, where an agent had introduced a potential buyer who subsequently proceeded with the purchase, there was a powerful presumption that the agent’s input was an operative cause of the sale. Granting permission for a full appeal, to be heard at a later date, the Court found that the brokers had a ‘realistic’ prospect of overturning the decision.