As it is with so many hopes and dreams,

Starting so brightly with all intentions good,

So oft fell afoul of money’s dastardly schemes,

Such was the case as Leslie and Farrar is understood.

Although a couple of months old, the case of Leslie v Farrar Construction Limited [2015] EWHC 58 (TCC) is of note as a stark example of how an adjudication decision can be set aside, or even disregarded, contrary to the intention of the legislation.

The case concerned a developer, Leslie, who was seeking to build up a property portfolio. Leslie entered into a framework agreement with a builder, Farrar, to identify and develop various sites. The parties fell out and Leslie sought to part company with Farrar. Farrar commenced an adjudication for unpaid work and its share of profits. 

The adjudicator found for Farrar on the profit share. Leslie refused to comply with the decision alleging that the adjudicator lacked jurisdiction and commenced proceedings in the TCC. Unusually, particularly from the defendant builder’s view point, the parties agreed that the adjudicator’s decision was not in any way binding, even temporarily, in the proceedings. 

In the result the court ruled, among other things, that Farrar was entitled to recover the unpaid work costs, but not capital costs nor non-site specific general business costs, and broadly concurred with the adjudicator’s decision. 

The reasons for not seeking enforcement of the adjudicator’s decision are not clear. It is worth noting that Farrar had to wait around 18 months, from the adjudication to the conclusion of these proceedings, which may yet be subject to appeal, to achieve a favourable outcome. Despite the threat from Leslie, successful challenges on the grounds of jurisdiction are, it is fair to say, rarely successful and the court frequently reminds us that adjudications are “rough justice”. One wonders if in hindsight Farrar might have reconsidered their strategy?