Our construction team advises clients in both the public and private sectors on all aspects of construction disputes. We use our knowledge and experience to help you resolve them in the quickest and most cost-effective way, whatever their type and size. Our construction adjudication experts have helped a range of clients avoid litigation, resolve disputes and successfully finish projects.
We have an approach to our work which we know our clients appreciate. Having the knowledge is one thing but applying it in a commercial and practical way is what we believe we do best.
What is adjudication?
Adjudication is a common way to resolve construction disputes. In fact, adjudication is not something that people working within the construction industry are able to opt out of and is a mandatory form of dispute resolution.
Generally, adjudication is a quick and efficient process lasting only 28 days. This was introduced by the Construction Act 1996. Before this it was considered that when disputes arose that smaller companies were at a disadvantage to larger companies as the latter could generally afford a lengthy legal process. Whereas a smaller business would suffer more from a lack of cash flow and therefore fail in proceedings to recover costs that are owed to them.
When is it best to use adjudication?
The main objective of adjudication is to protect cash-flow during construction projects by resolving disputes without resorting to lengthy and expensive court proceedings.
It is therefore best to use adjudication for resolving claims relating to:
- interim payments
- delay and disruption of the works
- extensions of time for completion of the works
- defects in the works; and
- the final account.
In addition, adjudication may be considered for disputes relating to breach of contract, termination of a contract and professional negligence.
When is it not appropriate to use adjudication?
The adjudication process was created to resolve construction disputes in a fast and practical manner. It may therefore not be suitable for your dispute.
If you are unsure whether adjudication is appropriate for your dispute, then you should seek legal advice.
What is the process of adjudication?
Before beginning the process of adjudication, you will need to check that there is a right to make a claim and that the dispute arises out of a construction contract. You will then need to let the other side know the details of the dispute. If this is then rejected or ignored you can then proceed with the adjudication process. This is known as “crystallisation” of the dispute.
The first step is then for you, as the referrer, to serve a notice of adjudication. This is then followed by a referral notice. The referral notice sets out all the details of the claim.
Within the first 7 days you will agree an adjudicator with the other side. If you can’t agree, you will ask an adjudicator nominating body to nominate an adjudicator. It is important that if the responding party has any concerns or issues over the right to refer the dispute to adjudication, they must be made clear during this stage.
Then, within the next 7 to 14 days, you will receive a response to your referral notice from the other side which will set out their defence to your claim.
During the next 7 days, you as the referrer will reply to the other side’s defence and there may be a further opportunity for the other side to counter your reply.
By the end of the 28-day process the adjudicator will make a decision based on all the evidence that has been presented.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of adjudication in construction?