Balfour Beatty Construction Northern Ltd V Modus Corovest (Blackpool) Ltd

The adjudicator's decision was not unenforceable on the ground that the contract required it to be a reasoned one but the adjudicator himself stated in his decision that it was not reasoned
Balfour Beatty Construction Northern Ltd V Modus Corovest (Blackpool) Ltd
Technology and Construction Court
Coulson J
4 December 2008
The employer contended that the adjudicator's decision was not, contrary to the express contractual requirement, a reasoned one. It contracted with the contractor on the basis that if there was an adjudication, they would receive a reasoned decision. The adjudicator said that his decision was not a reasoned one. The decision was therefore unenforceable.
Coulson J rejected the employer's contention. The provision requiring the decision to be reasoned was added by way of homemade amendment and was different to the provision in JCT 98 With Contractor's Design, which provided that no reasons were required. Whilst the adjudicator said that his decision was not a reasoned one, that could not on its own be conclusive because (i) If there had, for instance, been no notes at all or no explanation of how and why he had reached the decision that he did, the adjudicator's description would have been correct but (ii) If there had been notes which on analysis explained his decision, his decision would have complied with the contract notwithstanding what he himself said about the absence of reasons. The decision was not in substance something different to that for which the parties had contracted and was a reasoned one because (i) It contained many pages of reasons (ii) Those pages explained how and why the adjudicator concluded that the works to the shop front amounted to a change to the employer's requirements (iii) Nothing of significance was omitted from the decision (iv) Far from being unintelligible, the decision was clear and cogent and (v) It was noteworthy the employer did not seek additional reasons or indeed clarification of any part of his notes. Coulson J relied in coming to the above conclusion on statements of Jackson J in Carillion Construction v Devonport Royal Dockyard (2005). Jackson J stated that (i) If an adjudicator was requested to give reasons pursuant to paragraph 22 of the Scheme for Construction Contract, a brief statement of those reasons would suffice (ii) The reasons should be sufficient to show that the adjudicator dealt with the issues remitted to him and what his conclusions are on those issues (iii) It would only be in extreme circumstances, such as those described by Lord Gill in Gillies Ramsay that the court would decline to enforce an otherwise valid adjudicator's decision because of the inadequacy of the reasons given. The complainant would need to show that (i) The reasons were absent or unintelligible and (ii) He suffered substantial prejudice as a result.