Case summary: Three cases all dealing with issues of lateness have confirmed that, in general, time limits in adjudications should be strictly adhered to, although, if justice requires it, the court may grant some leeway. The cases determine that:
- Any clause in a construction contract permitting the adjudicator to reach or issue a decision out of time (ie after the 28 day period or that extended by the parties) does not comply with the Construction Act and is invalid. The Scheme for Construction Contracts will then apply.
- Failure to serve the referral notice within seven days of the notice of adjudication, as required by the contract, does not render the adjudicator without jurisdiction when the notice of appointment of the adjudicator has only been received on the seventh day and the referral notice and all supporting documents are served immediately the following day.
- As long as the adjudicator reaches his decision within the stipulated time period and it is delivered forthwith, the decision will be valid (even if delivery is thus slightly outside the time period).
- Any extension of time granted by the parties to the adjudicator to reach his decision is conditional on the terms of that extension. If the consent is to the “issuing” of the decision, the fact that the adjudicator has reached but not delivered his decision within the extended time period is insufficient. The decision is out of time and unenforceable.
Aveat Heating Ltd v Jerram Falkus Construction Ltd (01/02/07)
Epping Electrical Co Ltd v Briggs & Forrester (Plumbing Services) Ltd (19/01/07)
Cubitt Building & Interiors Ltd v Fleetglade Ltd (21/12/06)