Defender John Douglas provided an insurance policy to pursuer John Steven and Company for a shipment of goods on the Belfast Trader. The planned shipment route was from Belfast to Greenock or Port Glasgow. Before the ship set sail, however, merchants in Stranraer requested that the ship transport some goods from Belfast to Stranraer. The owner of the Belfast Trader agreed to transport these goods. In the course of trying to reach Stranraer, the ship encountered a storm and sank off the coast of Girvan in Ayrshire. Douglas refused to reimburse Steven and Company. Douglas claimed that the voyage taken by the Belfast Trader was different than the voyage provided for in the insurance policy. Steven and Company sought reimbursement, arguing that the voyage to Stranraer on the way to Greenock or Port Glasgow was not a significant deviation from the original route.

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