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British Steel Corporation V. Cleveland Bridge And Engineering Notes

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FACTS The plaintiffs (BSC), who were iron and steel manufacturers, were approached by the defendants to produce a variety of cast-steel nodes for the project. The plaintiffs prepared an estimated price based on incomplete information and sent it to the defendants by telex on 9 February 1979. After further discussions as to the appropriate specifications and technical requirements the defendants sent a letter of intent to the plaintiffs on 21 February which (i) recorded the defendants' intention to enter into a contract with the plaintiffs for the supply of cast-steel nodes at the prices itemised in the telex of 9 February, (ii) proposed that the contract be on the defendants' standard form, which provided for unlimited liability on the part of the plaintiffs in the event of consequential loss due to late delivery, and (iii) requested the plaintiffs to commence work immediately 'pending the preparation and issuing to you of the official form of sub-contract'. The plaintiffs would not have agreed to the defendants' standard form of contract and intended to submit a formal quotation once they had the requisite information. The plaintiffs did not reply to the letter of intent since they expected a formal order to follow shortly and instead they went ahead with the manufacture of the nodes. The defendants then indicated for the first time that they required delivery in a particular sequence. There were further discussions as to the proper specifications to be met in the manufacture but no final agreement was reached. The specifications were then changed extensively by the defendants after the first castings proved to be unsatisfactory. On 16 May the plaintiffs sent the defendants a formal quotation on their standard form, quoting a significantly higher price with delivery dates to be agreed. The defendants rejected the quotation and again changed the specifications. The plaintiffs went ahead with the manufacture and delivery of the nodes and eventually, at a meeting between the parties on 1 August, the parties reached provisional agreement on the basis of the quotation given on 16 May but they were unable to agree on other contract terms such as progress payments and liability for loss arising from late delivery. By 28 December all but one of the nodes had been delivered, delivery of the remaining node being held up until 11 April 1980 due to an industrial dispute at the plaintiffs' plant. The defendants refused to make any interim or final payment for the nodes and instead sent a written claim to the plaintiffs for damages for late delivery or delivery of the nodes out of sequence. HOLDING ROBERT GOFF LJ

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