Many years ago, I wrote an article on do-it-yourself adjudication. The article suggested that as a result of developments in adjudication law, practice and procedure, any party choosing to run an adjudication without professional assistance might be described as brave, foolhardy or both. My opinion hasn’t changed, if anything it has hardened. I do accept, however, that where a dispute is a simple one and the associated law is not overly complicated, there is no reason why a party should not adopt a “diy” approach to the process. After all, that is what parliament intended when it introduced the statutory right to adjudication when the Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 became operative on 1 May 1998.
So, if you are going to have a go at diy adjudication, what advice is out there and available to assist you brave souls? Well for a start, a free guide is available from the Construction Industry Council (“CIC”). Its Users Guide to Adjudication can be downloaded by typing cic.org.uk/download.php?f=cic-users-guide-to-adjudication-2017-2.pdf into your web browser. The document you will gain access to is described as “A guide for participants in adjudications conducted under Part II of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 as amended by the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009”. This free document is invaluable and although I don’t fully agree with everything that is set out in the guide and it is a little basic in places, it is, nevertheless, a great place to start.
For those of you who feel that you have a good grasp of the basics but feel that you need a more in-depth understanding on all things to do with adjudication, I recommend Coulson on Construction Adjudication as your next stop. Currently in its third edition, a new copy can be purchased for around £245. This might sound a lot but it is less than a good solicitor or claims consultant is likely to charge you for a single hour of advice.
Now for two further pieces of free advice. Firstly, can I suggest that you do not even dream about drafting and serving the all-important Notice of Adjudication until you have finished drafting the Referral Notice. The Notice of Adjudication defines the matters the adjudicator has to address and it is vitally important that it is comprehensive, covers every aspect of your dispute and allows the adjudicator to address and deal with all the matters you want him to.
The theory is that the Notice of Adjudication should contain a description of the dispute, details of how the dispute has arisen, the decision you want the adjudicator to make, the remedy you seek and the names and addresses of the parties involved.
I know it may sound like I am being over cautious but it really is amazing how often you think you know what the dispute is and what remedy(s) you require from your appointed adjudicator only to find that things change as you draft the Referral Notice. You simply do not want to find that the Notice of Adjudication you served before you drafted the Referral is no longer adequate. These sorts of nightmares are best left for other parties to experience.
Secondly, as the Notice of Adjudication is where your appointed adjudicator will derive his or her jurisdiction from, can I suggest that you make a small investment with a good claims consultant or lawyer and get the Notice checked before it is issued. Yes, I know it means spending a few quid but don’t get thrashed by your opponent simply for being penny-wise and pound-foolish at the same time!
Peter Vinden is a practising Arbitrator, Adjudicator, Mediator and Expert. He is Managing Director of The Vinden Partnership and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For similar articles please visit www.vinden.co.uk.