Enforcement of Adjudicator’s Decisions in Northern Ireland

October 3, 2014

The statutory scheme for Adjudicator’s decisions in construction disputes was introduced in Northern Ireland by the Construction Contracts (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 and subsequently amended by the Construction Contacts (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011. In short, the legislation provides that a party to a construction contract has the right to refer the dispute to adjudication under a specified procedure. The legislation does not apply to construction contracts with a residential occupier.

The construction contract is required to:-

1. Include provision in writing to enable a party to give notice of an intention to refer a dispute to adjudication;

2. Provide a timetable with the object of securing the appointment of the Adjudicator and referral of the dispute within 7 days of the notice; and

3. Require the Adjudicator to reach a decision within 28 days of referral, with limited powers to extend that time.

In situations where certain contractual provisions have not been agreed by the parties the provisions of the “Scheme for Construction Contracts in Northern Ireland” have effect as implied terms of the contract.

The intention of the Construction Contracts (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 as amended was to introduce a quick and efficient mechanism for settling disputes in construction contracts on a provisional basis, and requiring the decisions of Adjudicators to be enforced pending the final determination of disputes by arbitration, litigation or agreement. Most importantly, the legislation has made it clear that decisions of Adjudicators are binding and are to be complied with until the dispute is finally determined by legal proceedings or by arbitration or by agreement.

The enforcement of an Adjudicator’s award is by the issue of legal proceedings for the recovery of the amount of the Adjudicator’s award. Upon the issue of a Writ claiming the amount of the Adjudicator’s award, an application may be made for Summary Judgement. It is important to note that the grounds for resisting Summary Judgement in the enforcement of an Adjudicator’s decision are more restricted than other applications for Summary Judgement, with any defence being limited to issues concerning the jurisdiction of the Adjudicator and the operation of the rules of natural justice in the conduct of the adjudication.

Therefore, if the Adjudicator lacks jurisdiction or breached the rules of natural justice,  the Adjudicator’s award will be invalidated. Otherwise, there will be Judgement for the amount of the Adjudicator’s award, even if the Adjudicator was wrong on procedure or on the facts or in law.

Should you have any queries about the contents of this article, please do not hesitate to contact Anna McClimonds, Solicitor, Cleaver Fulton Rankin on 028 9027 3141

Please note; the content of this article is for information purposes only and further advice should be sought from a professional legal advisor before any action is taken.
Please contact Cleaver Fulton Rankin on 028 9027 3141 or alternatively visit www.cfrlaw.co.uk