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A construction project, whether large or small can be lengthy and complex involving a number of different parties and contractual relationships. Very often, issues will arise which can impact upon the time the project takes and upon payment and these can develop in to lengthy and costly disputes. We can help to resolve these disputes in a number of ways.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
ADR provides a relatively inexpensive and sometimes quick solution to a construction dispute. Our Constructions Disputes Team is experienced in many forms of ADR including without prejudice meetings and mediation.
The Adjudication process provides for a quick method of resolving construction disputes. An adjudicator would normally reach a decision within 28 days of the case being referred to him/her. Given the very short time limits which apply to this process, it is imperative that those referring disputes to Adjudication are exceptionally well prepared and able to respond very quickly to any case by way of defence which may be presented by the opposition.
The Adjudicator’s decision will be binding on the parties unless successfully challenged by litigation or by Arbitration. An Adjudicator’s decision can only be challenged on very limited grounds as follows;
- The Adjudicator acted outside his jurisdiction eg he made a decision concerning an issue between the parties which was not referred to him
- The Adjudicator acted in breach of the rules of natural justice
A decision cannot be challenged simply because the Adjudicator appears to have made the “wrong decision”. It therefore follows that it can be very difficult to challenge an Adjudicator’s decision.
An Adjudicator’s decision can be enforced by issuing a claim in the Technology and Construction Court and applying for Summary Judgment. Generally the application will be heard within 28 days which means that the opposition has a short time period to provide a clear case as to why the Adjudicator’s decision should not be enforced and for the Claimant to respond.
At the hearing provided the Court is satisfied that the Adjudicator’s decision is valid then judgment will be given to the Claimant and the Claimant will usually be entitled to its costs of the enforcement proceedings.
Arbitration is still popular as a method of construction dispute resolution. The process will be determined by the form of Arbitration agreement between the parties but whatever the process, it is crucial that prompt advice is taken to ensure compliance with the relevant rules.
Litigation can be a costly and lengthy process and therefore it is often seen as a last resort. Where, however, the dispute cannot be resolved by any of the above means it is often the best alternative method in order to achieve a final resolution to the dispute. Out Team has extensive experience in conducting litigation in the relevant Court and will advise you of the risks, costs and benefits of this beforehand.
Many of our Team are recognised by Chambers & partners, publishers of the world's leading guides to the legal profession. You can read what they say here.