Breach of natural justice in adjudication
Breach of natural justice in adjudication

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

  • Breach of natural justice in adjudication
  • Principles of natural justice
  • The right to a fair hearing
  • Conflict of interest and bias
  • Waiver
  • The effect of a breach of natural justice on an adjudication decision
  • Other examples where the court held there was a breach of natural justice
  • Examples where there may not be a breach of natural justice

Produced in association with 4 Pump Court

Principles of natural justice

If an adjudicator breaches the rules of natural justice during the adjudication then the decision may be a nullity if the breach is serious.

There are three well-known facets to the principle of natural justice:

  1. no one should be a judge in their own cause

  2. a party should be informed of the allegations against it and be given an opportunity to answer those allegations

  3. a party is entitled to have its case heard by an unbiased and impartial tribunal

In practice, a dispute concerning the first of these three facets of natural justice type is extremely unlikely to arise in a construction adjudication. If there were any sign that an adjudicator had to decide on the propriety of their own conduct, the adjudicator would most likely resign. For information on an adjudicator's resignation, see Practice Note: Resignation by the adjudicator.

The courts have given guidance as to what is required for a breach of natural justice on a number of occasions. The key Court of Appeal cases are Carillion Construction v Devonport Royal Dockyard and Amec v Whitefriars. In these cases, the Court of Appeal made a number of general observations as to the nature of the adjudication process and the limited scope for challenging an adjudication decision on the grounds of