Adjudication in construction contracts
Adjudication is a contractual or statutory procedure for swift interim dispute resolution. Adjudication is provided by a third party adjudicator selected by the parties to the dispute. Adjuducation is often is subject to a strict timetable and may be based purely on documentary submissions (see for example NEC Engineering and Construction Contract, option W2). Adjudicators can adopt an inquisitorial role which may involve taking the initiative in ascertaining facts and law.
Adjudication decisions are binding unless and until they are revised by arbitration or litigation. There is no right of appeal and limited right to resist enforcement. Award of legal costs is at the discretion of the adjudicator unless this is excluded by the terms of the contract. Based on decision and written information received from both parties, the whole process can take up to 28 days and the decisions are binding.
If parties to a construction contract do not agree an adjudication procedure, then one is imposed by statute (see the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 Part II Section 108 and the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 Part 8, which took effect in England and Wales in October 2011 and in Scotland in November 2011). Contractual adjudication procedures must comply with Section 108 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act.
The adjudicator is either named in the contract, agreed by the parties or appointed by a nominating body, usually named in the contract (see for example, the Technology and Construction Solicitors Association (TeSCA) which has developed its own Adjudication Rules (now version 3.1). If the parties do not agree procedural rules which comply with the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act then the Act imposes the rules set out in the Scheme for Construction Contracts.
- The parties can select the expert or the characteristics of the expert
- The expert can act as an investigator
- Seldom lengthy oral arguments or legal submissions
- No cross examination or formal evidence
- Streamlined, speedy and flexible procedures as agreed between the parties
- Less expensive
- The expert cannot go beyond the jurisdiction specified in the contract
- The expert determination is not supported by statute
- The expert powers are limited
- The expert's determinations must be enforced by commencing court proceedings
 Section 108 - key adjudication provisionsSection 108 of the Act
- The requirements for adjudication that all construction contracts should provide for
- If the contract does not comply with these requirements, then the statutory scheme will apply
- A party to a construction contract will thereby be able to refer any dispute arising under the contract for adjudication under either the contractual scheme or the statutory scheme
 Section 108 (2) - stipulates that the contractual scheme for adjudication should
- Enable a party to give notice at any time of his intention to refer a dispute to adjudication
- Provide a timetable with the object of securing the appointment of an adjudicator and referral of the dispute to him within 7 days of such notice
- Require the adjudicator to reach a decision within 28 days of referral or such longer period as agreed by the parties, or by up to 14 days with the consent of the party by whom the dispute was referred
- Impose a duty on the adjudicator to act impartially and
- Enable the adjudicator to take initiative in ascertaining the facts and law
- (The adjudicator is not required to act judicially when applying the law, nor is there any obligation upon him to reach the right answer)
- Provide that the decision of the adjudicator is binding unless and until the dispute is finally determined by legal proceedings, by arbitration or by agreement
- Provide that the adjudicator is not liable for anything done or omitted in the discharge of his functions unless in bad faith.
- The party seeking adjudication serves written notice on every other party to the contract
- This briefly sets out the nature of the dispute and the relief sought
- A copy is sent to the adjudicator of nominating body
- Selection of an adjudicator by a body must be communicated to the parties within five days of referral
- The selected adjudicator has two days to decide whether he is willing to act
- This person must not be an employee of a party to the dispute
- Once appointed, the referring party must serve notice on the adjudicator, accompanied by copies of all documents on which that party intends to rely
- Copies of this notice and documents are sent to all other parties in the dispute
- The adjudicator may decide more than one dispute arising out of one contract if there is consent between the parties. Typically the Adjudication Dispute will only deal with one dispute.
- May decide related issues arising under different contracts
Objection to adjudicator
- The objection of a party to the appointment of a particular person as adjudicator will not invalidate the appointment or decision of the adjudicator
Powers of adjudicator
- To open up, revise and review certificates unless the contract provides that they are final and conclusive
- To decide and order payment of sums due under the contract
- To decide whether interest should be paid
NB in 2017, the Construction Industry Council (CIC) published a new Users’ Guide to Adjudication, providing a general introduction to adjudication in the context of construction contracts, and in particular the right to adjudication in the UK and Northern Ireland.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Adjudicators and bias.
- Alternative dispute resolution.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution legislation.
- Breach of contract.
- Causes of construction disputes.
- Contract claims.
- Contract conditions.
- Dispute resolution board.
- Expert determination.
- Pay now argue later.
- Pendulum arbitration.
- PFIs and adjudication.
- The Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act.
- The role of the mediator.
- The Scheme for Construction Contracts.
 External references
Featured articles and news
Futurist Thomas Frey explores the concept of Disposable Housing - could it be a reality sooner than we imagine?
ICE to host new exhibition offering a window onto the civil engineering achievements beneath our feet.
Do you know all the various types of defects in brickwork?
US museum reveals plans for an installation made entirely of paper tubes.
Review of a book looking at how contemporary architecture found its expression within neoliberal capitalism.
The Great Mosque of Djenne, the largest mud-brick building in the world.
Amanda Clack, RICS President offers recommendations to government on Brexit and the construction skills shortage.
Tired of the commute? This architecture firm believes the best solution is to take cars underground.
Why do so many women leave engineering? Probably not for the reason you’re thinking.
For over 30 years David Trench was one of the UK's leading project managers. Read about his career through some of his most famous projects.
Leading institutes join forces calling for property flood resilience measures to help householders avoid repeat flooding.
CITB publish new report calling for the development of new skills standards for offsite construction.