Q&As

Where a sub-contractor has a number of unpaid invoices, can it commence a single adjudication in respect of all of them or would this constitute multiple disputes?

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Produced in partnership with Ryan Turner of Lamb Chambers
Published on LexisPSL on 05/06/2019

The following Construction Q&A produced in partnership with Ryan Turner of Lamb Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Where a sub-contractor has a number of unpaid invoices, can it commence a single adjudication in respect of all of them or would this constitute multiple disputes?

This Q&A assumes that there is a dispute as to valuation of works carried out under a single unified construction contract between a contractor (C) and its sub-contractor (S) which is subject to the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 (HGCRA 1996) but does not include bespoke provisions as to referral to adjudication, and thus, Part 1 of the Scheme for Construction Contracts (the Scheme), SI 1998/649 applies.

A party to a construction contract has a right to refer ‘a dispute arising under the contract’ to adjudication at any time under HGCRA 1996, s 108(1).

It is very important for a party considering referring a matter to adjudication to consider closely whether an adjudicator will have jurisdiction to resolve the relevant factual dispute (or disputes) within a single adjudication, or whether several adjudications are necessary. See Practice Note: The adjudicator's jurisdiction for a summary of the applicable principles.

Where consideration is not given to this issue, it may be that the referring party obtains an award from an appointed adjudicator but soon realises that the responding party will refuse to pay on the grounds of a lack of jurisdiction. The referring party will therefore have spent significant sums in legal costs, and possibly expert fees, to obtain a decision that is a nullity and of no practical benefit.

One way to avoid the issues set out below

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