CONSTRUCTION AND ENGINEERING

Construction disputes: the power of adjudication

Often, businesses will want to make use of quicker routes to resolving their disputes without enduring a prolonged court process. One alternative process to very seriously consider is adjudication.

What is adjudication?

Adjudication is a rapid dispute resolution process tailored for the construction industry. It allows parties to avoid the lengthy and costly court proceedings which can typically take over 18 months to conclude. Instead, an independent adjudicator (with expertise in the relevant field) is appointed to make a binding decision based on the written submissions from both parties. This decision is made within a strict 28-day timeframe, highlighting the speed and efficiency of the adjudication process. Extensions to this time line are available but should not be taken for granted.

The speed of adjudication

The most striking feature of adjudication is its speed. A decision is reached within 28 days from the referral of the dispute. To put this in perspective, in standard high court proceedings, it often takes 28 days just to receive the other party’s defence.  The entire process can stretch out for 18 to 24 months. In contrast, adjudication offers a swift resolution, making it an attractive option for resolving construction disputes.

Challenging an adjudicator’s decision

A key aspect of adjudication is the limited scope for challenging the adjudicator’s decision. The process is designed to ensure that the decision is enforceable quickly. However, it should be noted that, if a party feels that the decision is unfair or requires more detailed examination, they can pursue court proceedings after the adjudication has concluded. Nonetheless, in most cases, there are no sensible grounds for challenging the decision, emphasising the finality and efficiency of the process.

Preparing for adjudication

Given the accelerated nature of adjudication, preparation is crucial. The referring party has the advantage of preparing their case extensively before initiating the process. It is essential to use this time to gather all necessary evidence and build a strong case. On the other hand, the responding party needs to be aware that the process moves quickly, often giving them only a short period to reply. Therefore, both parties should be proactive in collecting and organising evidence as soon as a dispute looks likely.

For both the referring and responding parties, early preparation is key. If you sense a dispute, start compiling your evidence immediately. Aim to resolve the issue amicably to avoid formal proceedings. However, if adjudication becomes necessary, being ready with all your evidence will provide a significant advantage within the stringent 28-day timeframe.

 

Adjudication can be a powerful tool for resolving construction disputes quickly and effectively. If you require expert legal advice navigating the adjudication process, please contact Robert Ganpatsingh on +44 (0)1273 744213 or via robert.ganpatsingh@dmhstallard.com.

About the authors


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Robert Ganpatsingh

Partner

Expert in contentious matters involving design rights, patents, copyright, trade marks and Passing Off.

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