Adjudication – extending its scope
Adjudication is a quick fix, interim measure to determine disputes between parties to a construction contract within a prescribed period, usually 28 days. Due to the speed by which disputes are resolved, the use of adjudications has become increasingly widespread but it has not been without its limitations. Most notably, to refer a dispute to adjudication, the construction contract had to be in writing.
From 1 October (1 November in Scotland), this requirement has been removed. As such, any disputes arising out of changes made on site as the works progress and which are not recorded in writing, can now be referred to adjudication. But what effect will this have upon adjudications? The adjudicator may have to determine what the terms of the contract are before they can consider any other issues which may be in dispute. This in itself is unlikely to be an easy task and we may see adjudicators making more use of hearings rather than relying upon written evidence. Adjudicators may find that it is not possible to adhere to the 28 day time limit and ask for additional time to come to their decision. More decisions may be open to jurisdictional challenges thereby making what had traditionally been a relatively easy enforcement procedure, more problematical.
We do not yet know what effect the changes will have but it will be interesting to watch how this area develops in the next 12 months.
This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.