Tony Bingham discussed in Building magazine this week (see his article here) an otherwise unreported NEC3 case in which the High Court decided it was not procedurally unfair for a Responding Party to an adjudication to be expected to respond to a referral notice with 63 lever arch files of supporting evidence in 7 days.
Once my palpitations from the thought of responding to 63 lever arch files in a week had passed, I wondered what we could learn from this case:
- Most obviously, note that this could happen to you. If you are caught up in a final account dispute, make sure you stay on top of all papers as they come in. You will not necessarily have time once the adjudication has started to review the material.
- Tony Bingham reports that the adjudicator refused the Responding Party's request for an extra two weeks because it would only have left him a day to produce his decision. Presumably this means that the Referring Party refused to extend the adjudication timetable beyond 28 days.
In the short term, the Referring Party did well out of the tight timetable with the £3m awarded by the adjudicator added to its cashflow. However, it has already faced these enforcement proceedings in the High Court. Presumably there is every chance the Responding Party will bring fresh proceedings in the High Court to recover any overpayment. In the long run, it might be better to extend the adjudication timetable by a few weeks to avoid the costs and hassle of several trips to court.