Bloor Construction (UK) Limited -v- Bowmer & Kirkland (London) Limited
It was an implied term of the contract between the adjudicator and the parties (which should be enforced) that the adjudicator could correct an accidental error or any ambiguity in his decision if he did so within a reasonable time and if the correction did not prejudice the other party
5 April, 2000
A dispute arose under the sub-contract in relation to claims made by the sub-contractor which was referred to adjudication. On the (extended) date for the publication of his decision, the adjudicator faxed to the parties his decision and a covering letter. On receipt of the fax the contractor realised that the adjudicator had failed to take into account payments made on account by it. This error was immediately pointed out by the contractor to the adjudicator who sent another fax to the parties on the same day with his corrected decision. The adjudicator concluded his fax by stating that he had corrected an obvious slip. The sub-contractor began court proceedings to enforce the original (uncorrected) decision. The issue for determination was whether and, if so, in what circumstances an adjudicator could alter his own decision to correct a clerical mistake or error arising from an accidental slip or omission. Judge Toulmin held that it was an implied term of the contract between the adjudicator and the parties that the adjudicator could, on his own initiative or on the application of a party, correct an accidental error or any ambiguity in his decision if he did so within a reasonable time and if the correction did not prejudice the other party. In the instant case the period of time of three hours between the adjudicator publishing his decision and correcting it was reasonable and the correction was not prejudicial. Judge Toulmin stated that parties acting in good faith would be bound to agree at the start of the adjudication that the adjudicator could correct an obvious mistake of the sort made by the adjudicator in the instant case. Also it had been held previously that the court was not able to correct obvious factual errors or legal conclusions in adjudication decisions except in very restricted circumstances, even where such errors caused manifest injustice, unless the adjudicator exceeded his terms of reference or there was no ?construction contract? within the meaning of the Construction Act. Advice Note The circumstances in which a decision can be amended are very limited. An adjudicator will not be able validly to amend his decision simply because he has had second thoughts as to its correctness.