The courts will usually enforce the decision of an adjudicator.
There may be exceptions where a properly arguable case can be made out that there has been a breach of natural justice, or that the adjudicator lacked the necessary jurisdiction to reach the decision.
In CSK Electrical Contractors Ltd v Kingwood Electrical Services Ltd , the defendant raised both challenges:
The natural justice challenge was based on the adjudicator’s timetable being too quick and therefore overstretching their resources.
This argument had been unsuccessfully raised in earlier cases.
The High Court said adjudication is a “rough and ready process” because it has to take place within a very strict timetable.
That often puts the responding party under particular pressure.
That was “a fact of adjudication life”. It is “inherent in the whole process”.
Here, the claimant testified that they had proper cash flow reasons for pursuing the claim at the time they did.
After all the importance of cash flow was the principle that underlies the adjudication process.
The timetable the adjudicator had set down made the best use of the 28 days that was available.
Though it took place over the Christmas/New Year period, the defendant had held the disputed invoices since the middle of November and so must have known what points it intended to make in the adjudication. Otherwise what was the basis for the defendant saying that the claims would be ‘strenuously defended’ on 18 December 2014? Also there had been no great complexity about the disputes between the parties.
The only real point of significance was whether or not the defendant had served on the claimant a valid “payless notice”. That was relatively straightforward and well capable of determination within the 28 days.
Lastly the defendant could have asked the adjudicator for further time but the defendant failed to do that.
That strongly suggested to the judge that this challenge was not based on something that was of great concern to the defendant at the time, but rather “on an attempted comb through the authorities on adjudication, to try and find a reason after the event for avoiding making payments to the claimant.”
So the defendant’s challenge to the adjudication, on this ground, was unsuccessful. Indeed it was on all the other grounds as well.
This blog has been posted out of general interest. It does not replace the need to get bespoke legal advice in individual cases.