Able Construction (UK) Ltd v Forest Property Development Ltd

The fact that the contractor's claim came before the court as a claim due in consequence of a breach of a settlement agreement made no difference to the general approach that the court would ordinarily enforce the adjudicators' decisions on a summary basis
 
ABLE CONSTRUCTION (UK) LTD V FOREST PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT LTD
 
Technology and Construction Court
Coulson J
27 January 2009
 
The adjudicator made an award of a specified sum to the contractor. The contractor and the employer entered into a settlement agreement by which (i) the employer was to pay a sum which was slightly less than the sum awarded by instalments and (ii) in the event of any default by the employer in paying the instalments by the specified dates, the contractor was entitled to enforce the adjudicator's decision or any unpaid balance without further reference to the employer. The employer did not pay some of the instalments. The contractor brought court enforcement proceedings. The employer contended that the contractor was not entitled to bring its claim for summary judgment in its court enforcement proceedings under CPR Part 24 on the ground that the claim was to enforce the settlement agreement rather than the adjudicator's decision.
 
Coulson J rejected that contention. The basis for this decision was that no defence of any kind to the substantive claims made by the contractor had been put forward by the employer in any of the documents before the court. The fact that the contractor's claim came before the court as a claim due in consequence of a breach of a settlement agreement made no difference to the general approach that the court should adopt, namely that the Technology and Construction Court would ordinarily enforce the adjudicators' decisions on a summary basis. Whilst it had been suggested in the past that a settlement or compromise agreement might not be a construction contract within the meaning of the Construction Act, in those cases the point mattered because the adjudicator had been appointed under the settlement agreement and not the original construction contract. The adjudicator's decision would be appear to one which should be enforced because (i) no question of jurisdiction arose either in the adjudication itself or subsequently when the parties were both represented by solicitors and (ii) no alleged breach of natural justice had been identified in any of the documents and no defence of any kind to the substantive claims made by the contractor had been put forward by the employer in any of the documents before the court.
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