ESTOR LTD V MULTIFIT (UK) LTD

The holding company should have leave to defend the contractors application for summary judgment to enforce the adjudicators decision in its favour on terms
 
 

Technology and Construction Court
Akenhead J
12 August 2009

 
The holding company should have leave to defend the contractor’s application for summary judgment to enforce the adjudicator’s decision in its favour on terms
 
The employer was a member of a group of companies. The contract with the original contractor ran into difficulties due to that contractor’s financial problems. The contractor sent a quote by email to complete the outstanding works which set out those works which it did not propose to complete including, in particular, the flooring. The owner of the group of companies gave evidence that the contractor wanted some comfort as to whether he could pay for the work and that it was never his intention that a contract would be entered into between the holding company and the contractor. The owner accepted the contractor’s quote without stating which company in his group would be the contracting party. There were disputes and the contractor served notices of adjudication and referral on the holding company. The issues referred included the nature of the contract and the contracting party and the contractor’s responsibility for the alleged defects to the flooring. The adjudicator decided that the contract was between the contractor and the holding company, that whilst the contract between the contractor and the new contractor did not originally include the flooring, the sub-contractor had somehow become responsible for it with the result that the contractor was responsible for the defects to the holding company, that none of the flooring defects had been proved and that the holding company should pay the contractor the sum it claimed. The holding company issued its own court proceedings in which it sought declarations that there was no contract in writing between the contractor and the holding company. The contractor applied for summary judgment on its counterclaim for the enforcement of the adjudicator’s decision.
 
Akenhead J held that the only contention of the holding company which had a realistic prospect of being established at trial was that the contract was not between it and the contractor. The holding company should have leave to defend the contractor’s application for summary judgment to enforce the adjudicator’s decision in its favour on terms that £35,000 of the total amount awarded by the adjudicator of £61,624 should be paid into court pending the trial of the contractor’s enforcement claim and summary judgment should be entered in the contractor’s favour if that sum was not paid into court by the specified date.
 
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