Cantillon Ltd v Urvasco Ltd

Akenhead J in this case reviewed the caselaw on what constitutes "a dispute" for adjudication and arbitration purposes. In particular he considered the statements of Judge LLoyd in KNS Industrial Services (Birmingham) Ltd -v- Sindall Ltd (2001), the Court of Appeal's decisions in Collins (Contractors) v Baltic Quay Management (2004) and Amec Civil Engineering v Secretary of State for Transport (2005).

Technology and Construction Court
Akenhead J
27 February 2008
The judge derived the following propositions from these cases: The courts (and indeed adjudicators and arbitrators) should not adopt an over legalistic analysis as to what constituted the dispute between the parties. It was necessary to determine in broad terms what was the disputed claim or assertion being referred to adjudication or arbitration (as the case might be). It was not possible to say that the disputed claim or assertion was necessarily defined or limited by the evidence or arguments submitted by either party to each other before the referral to adjudication or arbitration. The ambit of the reference to adjudication or arbitration might unavoidably be widened by the nature of the defence or defences put forward by the defendant in those proceedings. Any dispute referred to adjudication included and allowed for any ground open to the responding party which would amount in law or in fact to a defence of the claim with which it was dealing.
The judge went on to outline the following approach to be adopted by adjudicators and arbitrators in the light of the above propositions: It was necessary to look at the essential claim which had been made and the fact that it had been challenged as opposed to the precise grounds upon which it had been rejected or not accepted. It was therefore open to any defendant to raise any defence to the claim when it was referred to adjudication or arbitration. Similarly the claimant was not limited to the arguments, contentions and evidence put forward by it before the dispute crystallised. The adjudicator or arbitrator then had to resolve the referred dispute, which was essentially the challenged claim or assertion, but could consider any argument, evidence or other material for or against the disputed claim or assertion in resolving that dispute.
The judge rejected the proposition that where a party had had an opportunity to consider the position of the opposite party, what constituted a "dispute" between the parties was not only a "claim" which had been rejected but the whole package of arguments advanced and facts relied upon by each side.