Failure to Take Specialist Advice Proves Costly for Company in Dispute

A company which thought it could save money by dispensing with specialist advice before embarking on a complex dispute with a demolition contractor paid a heavy price when an adjudicator ordered it to pay more than £100,000.

The company refused to pay some of the contractor's invoices on the basis that the demolition job had not been completed and parts of the target building remained standing. Each party to the dispute also accused the other of wrongfully terminating the contract.

The dispute was referred to an adjudicator without either party apparently having sought expert advice in relation to the proceedings or the presentation of its case. The adjudicator ruled conclusively in favour of the contractor, finding that the contract had probably been ended by mutual consent and that the invoices generally reflected sums properly due. The contractor was awarded £133,666, plus interest and the costs of the adjudication process.

In dismissing the company's challenge to that outcome, the High Court rejected its attack on the adjudicator's jurisdiction to consider the dispute. Arguments that the adjudicator had breached rules of natural justice in his valuation of the contractor's claim and by failing to perform a site visit also fell on fallow ground. Judgment for the amount of the adjudicator's award was entered in the contractor's favour.

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