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Adjudication and arbitration are methods often used in the construction industry in the hope that they will achieve speedier and less costly dispute resolution than the use of litigation. However, this is not always the case and adjudicators are used to criticism by those who are dissatisfied with their decisions. However, it is extremely rare for their honesty to be impugned.
That is exactly what happened in a recent case in which an adjudicator's integrity came under sustained fire.
The adjudicator had directed a company to pay more than £10 million to a contractor that it had engaged to carry out works on a power plant. In resisting enforcement of that decision, the company argued that there had been breaches of natural justice and that the adjudicator had wrongfully delegated his decision-making role to a third party.
The High Court noted that the latter allegation effectively involved a challenge to the adjudicator's honesty.
The Court had no hesitation in vindicating the adjudicator. Noting that he had had to deal with 20 lever arch files of documents, the Court found it unsurprising that he had sought the assistance of a quantity surveyor and lawyer in order to render his task manageable. No relevant part of the decision-making process had been delegated to the assistant and there was no reasonable justification for the attack on the adjudicator's integrity.
The company's challenge to the adjudicator's decision failed on all grounds and the Court entered summary judgment for the contractor for the full amount of the award, plus interest.