In J Murphy & Sons Ltd v W Maher and Sons Ltd  EWHC 1148 (TCC), the court granted declaratory relief for a dispute to be decided by adjudication although a settlement agreement had been entered into. Balfour Beatty engaged J Murphy to carry out shaft and tunnel work on a project at Trafford Park. J Murphy sub-subcontracted to W Maher the removal of spoil from site. The works order incorporated the NEC3 Subcontract. After works completed in September 2015, W Maher submitted a final account in the sum of £763k, with an outstanding balance of £297k. The final account was discussed, and the parties reached an agreed value of £720k meaning a payment due to W Maher of £253k. No payment was received, and in March 2016 J Murphy suggested it now valued W Maher's account at £483k. The following month W Maher initiated adjudication proceedings. J Murphy raised a jurisdictional challenge, on the basis that the dispute arose under the alleged settlement agreement, and not under the sub-subcontract. It sought declaratory relief from the court on that basis. The case was considered by Akenhead J, who summarised case law on the point. He described J Murphy's case as "unmeritorious", going on to postulate that it would be 'far-fetched and unrealistic' to suggest that an agreement as to the value of an account could not be subsequently adjudicated because it had previously been settled. He commented obiter (because he was not obliged to decide the point) that the agreement reached as to the value of the final account he would consider to be a variation to the contract as a means of resolving the claim. It is clear that if parties enter into a settlement agreement, disputes arising under it may still be referred to adjudication unless express words are used to the contrary. Unless the settlement is a full and final settlement of all claims under the contract, the courts will regard such an agreement as a variation to the underlying contract. To read more click here.