William Verry Ltd v North West London Communal Mikvah

There was a dispute capable of being referred to adjudication when the contractor served its notice of adjudication that stated that the dispute was the contractor's entitlement to the release and payment of the first half of retention
 
WILLIAM VERRY LTD v NORTH WEST LONDON COMMUNAL MIKVAH

Technology and Construction Court
His Honour Judge Anthony Thornton QC
11 June 2004
 
In an earlier adjudication (conducted by the same adjudicator) the contractor was awarded a specified sum in respect of an interim payment application on the basis that the full amount of retention was deducted from the amount the adjudicator decided was due in respect of the application. There was an exchange of communications between the contractor and the architect after the decision was published (and complied with by the employer) about alleged outstanding defects and snagging items requiring remedy that culminated in the contractor asserting that there were no defects or that if there were any defects, it would remedy them. The quantity surveyor notified the contractor of an intended interim valuation that would reduce the value of work properly executed from that previously certified. The architect issued an interim payment certificate that stated that no further sum was due to the contractor notwithstanding that the size of the retention fund had been reduced as a result of qualified practical completion having been certified by reason of a deduction having been made in consequence of allegedly defective work.
 
The employer contended that there was no dispute capable of being referred to adjudication when the contractor served its notice of adjudication that stated that the dispute was the contractor's entitlement to the release and payment of the first half of retention pursuant to clause 30.4.1.2 and/or 30.4.1.3 of JCT 98. Judge Thornton disagreed on the basis that the adjudication notice referred an existing dispute that had already crystallised to adjudication and was not premature.
 
In the light of the relevant factual background it could be seen that the contractor by its notice of adjudication sought to refer a dispute involving whether the interim certificate had been correctly computed and had correctly certified that no monies were due to be paid to the contractor or whether the certificate should have certified that an amount of retention should be released. This question should be answered in the context of the obvious reduction in the certified gross value of the work to account for alleged defects in the work not previously accounted for and the immediately preceding history of exchanges between the contractor and the architect.
 
Advice Note
A notice of adjudication will often be effective even if the alleged dispute is described in the most general of terms.
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