The Super Servant Two [1990]

April 15, 2024
Micheal James

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Introduction to The Super Servant Two [1990]

The Super Servant Two (1990) stands as a significant case in contract law, clarifying the boundaries of a party’s duty of care and the concept of contract frustration. This case study delves into the factual background, legal issues at stake, the court’s decision, and its lasting impact.

Factual Background

Lauritzen contracted with Wijsmuller to transport a drilling rig using a specific vessel, the Super Servant Two. The contract included a duty of care clause in Lauritzen’s favor. Unfortunately, the Super Servant Two sank before the transportation was to begin. Wijsmuller offered an alternative vessel (Super Servant One) but claimed it was unavailable. Lauritzen secured alternative transportation at a higher cost and sued Wijsmuller for breach of contract.

Legal Issues

Two key issues arose:

  1. Duty of Care: Did the duty of care clause extend to events before the contract’s performance (i.e., the sinking)?
  2. Frustration: Did the sinking of the Super Servant Two fundamentally change the contract, relieving Wijsmuller of its obligations?

Holding and Reasoning

The court sided with Lauritzen on both points. The court interpreted the duty of care clause broadly, holding Wijsmuller responsible for acting reasonably throughout the contractual period, including pre-performance actions. Regarding frustration, the court reasoned that the contract anticipated the possibility of the designated vessel being unavailable and provided for an alternative. Therefore, the sinking did not fundamentally change the contract’s performance.


The Super Servant Two clarifies aspects of duty of care and frustration:

  • Duty of Care: The case emphasizes that the scope of a duty of care clause can extend beyond the immediate performance, potentially encompassing pre-performance actions.
  • Frustration: The case clarifies that frustration requires a fundamental change in the agreed-upon performance, not just inconvenience or additional costs.


The Super Servant Two remains a vital case, shaping how courts perceive duty of care and the threshold for contract frustration.

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