Adjudication timescales
Adjudication timescales

The following Construction guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Adjudication timescales
  • Adherence to the timetable
  • Challenges based on tight timeframes
  • Calculation of dates
  • Timetable for adjudication
  • Timescales for enforcing or challenging an adjudication decision
  • Service of documents

Produced in association with 4 Pump Court

This Practice Note considers the timescales for an adjudication under the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 (HGCRA 1996) and the Scheme for Construction Contracts. In particular, it looks at adherence to the timetable, how time periods are calculated and whether tight timescales can give rise to a breach of natural justice.

The HGCRA 1996 provides specific timescales for the service of the Referral Notice and the adjudicator’s decision, but otherwise does not prescribe time periods for other steps in an adjudication. However, the power to set the timetable is within the adjudicator’s discretion, which will include setting a deadline for the Response and any other steps they feel are necessary—see Practice Note: The adjudicator's powers, directions and duties.

Adherence to the timetable

The overriding principle of the adjudication process is that speed is given precedence over accuracy—what matters most is a quick decision, not necessarily a wholly accurate one. This principle is based on the recognition that cash flow is paramount during a construction project.

The courts have consistently stressed that if the mandatory timetable is not adhered to, uncertainty would be introduced which would undermine the whole adjudication process (Hart Investments v Fidler).

In Hart Investments, the court explained:

'The whole point of adjudication is that speed is given precedence over accuracy. What matters is a