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Construction Adjudication & Enforcement

St John's Chambers dominates the construction law market on the Western Circuit. Its members are well equipped to deal with all forms of dispute resolution, including complex mediations. One commentator describes the set as 'the best in the West of the country.' "

Chambers UK  2020
Construction

Adjudication is a quick form of dispute resolution, available in every construction contract to which the Construction Act applies. It typically takes between 35 and 49 days from the first notice of intention to adjudicate to the receipt of the Adjudicator’s decision. Adjudicators’ decisions are not normally final (the Court or an Arbitrator can normally still make a final decision later), but they are binding until there is a final decision, and have to be complied with.

The whole process happens very quickly, and requires specialist knowledge to get the best from the process and to avoid procedural pitfalls. Failure in an adjudication, or failure to take a valid procedural point at the right time, can be catastrophic. Experienced specialist advice, detailed knowledge of the relevant adjudication case law, and years of hands-on experience can be invaluable. It is advisable to consult us at as early a stage as possible.

Adjudicators’ decisions can only be challenged or not complied with in very limited circumstances, such as if the initial appointment was procedurally invalid, or if there was a breach of natural justice in the process. If one party does not comply with the decision, or if there is a dispute about its validity, then the Court (normally the Technology and Construction Court, which is part of the Business and Property Courts) will often be asked to ‘enforce’ the decision or to decide whether it is procedurally valid. Typically these hearings come on within four weeks or so. The TCC has judges in various locations including London, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter and Birmingham.

In exceptional cases a stay of execution can sometimes be obtained from the Court, but in the great majority of cases a losing party in adjudication will be ordered to pay or otherwise comply with the decision, and often have to pay the costs of the TCC hearing as well. Specialist advice is essential before deciding to resist (or for that matter try to enforce) an Adjudicator’s decision, to avoid throwing good money after bad.

Recent cases include: