Sam Bawden, Construction Law solicitor at Holmes & Hills, discusses the pre-Christmas Adjudication tradition.
The tactical pre-Christmas Adjudication seems to have gone out of fashion in recent years (thankfully!). If you were on the receiving end, it certainly limited your ability to switch off and enjoy the Christmas festivities, but I always thought it was a risky strategy even for the Referring Party. Parties had to be very careful that they didn’t leave themselves open to the Adjudicator asking questions, or the Responding Party submitting something, that would require a response at a particularly inconvenient time.
Nevertheless, in the run up to Christmas, we have seen a rise in the number of clients wanting to Adjudicate, primarily in relation to payment disputes. No doubt this is a sign of the times. In the period between 2 November - 2 December, I personally ran 4 successful Adjudications for both new and existing clients.
Adjudication remains a fast and effective way of resolving disputes. In all 4 Adjudications, we obtained the Decision in significantly less than the typical 28-day period. Two of those Adjudications (conducted for the same electrical installation sub-contractor, but in relation to different contracts) were particularly quick; the Referrals were issued on 16 October and the Decisions, in both Adjudications, were issued on 2 November. The Responding Party made payment in full on 5 November (just 19 days from the date of the Referral). This was notwithstanding that the Responding Party was represented by solicitors and participated fully in both Adjudications.
The client’s Managing Director commented that he was “very happy with the outcome of the case and with the professionalism, thoroughness and excellent timely communication throughout.” Although we had explained the speed at which Adjudication proceeds, he was nonetheless surprised at how quickly he had recovered the entire balance due to his company.
In our experience, there are two factors that greatly influence a client’s ability to get paid on time and in full: (1) robust contractual terms and (2) acting promptly when there is a dispute.
We are now working with that client to review their existing terms and conditions and provide associated training with a view to further improving their ability to secure prompt payment for works completed.
Anyone wishing to obtain advice and assistance in relation to Adjudication and/or in relation to ensuring their contractual terms and payment practices are robust, can contact Holmes & Hills Solicitors’ specialist Construction Law Team.