In deciding a dispute about the inflation adjustment to payments under a contract for road maintenance over many years, an adjudicator made an arithmetic error, somewhere between £1.9 and £2.4 million.(1) The judge said that no criticism could be made of the adjudicator, who had to deal with complicated calculations under considerable time pressure. However, did that error 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 the temporary resolution of any dispute and dissatisfied parties should take steps to resolve the substantive dispute, rather than waste time and money opposing enforcement. In any case, the part of the decision containing the error could not be severed. It would have meant the correction of a mistake of fact and the court would not embark on such an exercise. The test is whether the adjudicator's decision is something that was within their jurisdiction to decide.
Further, there was an argument about the interpretation of a previous adjudicator's decision, but, as the parties had effectively agreed that the language adopted by that adjudicator represented his or her agreement, the judge considered that the usual principles of contractual interpretation applied.
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