An error of fact or law in an adjudicator’s award does not prevent it from being enforced – so long as the adjudicator answered the right question. This may seem harsh but since adjudication is an interim quick-fix solution to a dispute, an aggrieved party can still go to court or arbitration (as appropriate) for a definitive ruling on the issue.

In Urang Commercial Ltd v Century Investments Ltd two hotel owners had, respectively, failed to serve withholding notices in respect of sums due to Urang under interim certificates. The unpaid sums due could not therefore be withheld but the adjudicator went further and said the lack of a withholding notice prevented each employer from deploying its counterclaim as a defence to other claims made by Urang in adjudication, but which were not included in the relevant certificate. The adjudicator’s decisions on this point were wrong but as he had in each case answered the right question, the decisions would be enforced.

Urang Commercial Ltd v Century Investments Ltd & Anor [2011] EWHC 1561