Alstom Signalling Ltd v Jarvis Facilities Ltd

There was nothing to prevent the court in an appropriate case from finally determining the dispute that formed the subject matter of the adjudication at the same time that it dealt with an application for summary judgment to enforce the decision

Technology and Construction Court
His Honour Judge Humphrey LLoyd QC
28 May 2004
The adjudicator made a decision in the sub-contractor's favour. Without paying the amount awarded in the sub-contractor's favour by the decision, the contractor immediately issued court proceedings seeking declarations that the decision was wrong and should not be enforced. Shortly afterwards the sub-contractor issued proceedings seeking to enforce the decision. The judge decided that the two sets of proceedings should be consolidated and dealt with at the same hearing. The sub-contractor contended that the enforcement proceedings should be heard first.
Judge LLoyd rejected this contention on the basis that the powers of the court were not so circumscribed by the Construction Act that it could not order that the dispute should be finally determined prior to or at the same time the application for enforcement was heard and that the parties' interests were best served by such a determination (and not by uncertainty).
There was nothing in the Act or in the Scheme for Construction Contracts that required a party wishing to challenge a decision to comply with it before being able to advance its case. Unless a party was estopped from questioning the decision or had waived its right to do so, it was free at any time to obtain a final determination of the dispute that had been provisionally resolved by the decision. There was no reason why a challenge to a second decision should not encompass or lead to the final determination in respect of the first decision The Act did not provide when a final determination should take place and once the court was seized of the case, it had to take a course that saved expense and was expeditious. It might be prudent to defer an application to enforce or to stay a judgment if the point in dispute was soon to be finally determined since transferring money for a limited period of time might not in such circumstances be sensible.
Advice Note
Most adjudications are about issues of fact and would ordinarily not be capable of being finally determined before the application for summary judgment is heard. However, it is possible (as in the instant case) for a party to move with determination and speed so as to "get in first".