A developer of a house in Hampstead went to adjudication against its shell and core contractor, claiming liquidated damages. It failed, because the adjudicator decided time was at large, but the developer challenged the decision, saying that, in breach of the rules of natural justice, the adjudicator had failed to give the parties a fair opportunity to comment on his analysis for the decision. The court disagreed. What is fair depends on the circumstances and it is important to recognise the compressed and limited context of the decision, as demonstrated by the very short timetable imposed on the adjudicator and the difficulties this caused him. It was wrong to assess the fairness of the adopted procedure in a vacuum and to ignore the decision's provisional status. The issue of whether time was at large was in play between the parties and fully canvassed by them.

The adjudicator had also gone on to decide what was the reasonable date for completion but neither party had asked him to do this or made submissions on the issue. Was he entitled to do this? No, said the court. The adjudicator's reasoning might have been the logical next step, but, in deciding the issue, he exceeded his jurisdiction. Having the material to decide an issue is not the same as having the jurisdiction to resolve it. This part of his decision was, however, severable from the balance of his decision, which survived.

Stellite Construction Ltd v Vascroft Contractors Ltd [2016] EWHC 792