In deciding a dispute about the inflation adjustment to payments under a contract for road maintenance over many years, an adjudicator made an error in the arithmetic. The error was somewhere between 1.9 and 2.4 million but the judge said no criticism could be made of the adjudicator, who had to deal, under considerable time pressure, with very complicated calculations, for making it. Did that error, however, prevent the decision being enforced?

The "right" answer in adjudication, said the judge, is secondary to the parties having a rapid answer. As stated many times, adjudicators' decisions will be enforced by the courts, regardless of errors of fact or law. Adjudication is a temporary resolution of any dispute and dissatisfied parties should take steps finally to resolve the substantive dispute, rather than waste time and money opposing enforcement. And the part of the decision containing the error could not be severed. That would amount to correction of a mistake of fact and the court will not embark on such an exercise. The test is whether what the adjudicator decided is something that was within their jurisdiction to decide.

There was also argument about interpretation of a previous adjudicator's decision but, as the parties had effectively agreed that the language adopted by that adjudicator represented their agreement, the judge considered that the usual principles of contractual interpretation applied.

Amey Wye Valley Ltd v The County of Herefordshire District Council (Rev 1) [2016] EWHC 2368