Gipping Construction Ltd V Eaves Ltd

There was no breach of the rules of natural justice by the adjudicator as a result of him not carrying out a site inspection
Technology and Construction Court
Akenhead J
11 December 2008
Akenhead J dealt in this case with an application by the defendant to court proceedings by the claimant to enforce the adjudicator's decision in its favour when the defendant refused to pay the sum ordered by the adjudicator to be paid. He held that, contrary to the defendant's contention, there was no breach of the rules of natural justice by the adjudicator as a result of him not carrying out a site inspection. The reasons given by Akenhead J for this statement were as follows:
The Technology & Construction Court and the Court of Appeal had said on many occasions that adjudication was a form of rough justice, in the sense that within a very short period of time (28 days usually) the adjudicator had to receive submissions and evidence from the parties and produce his or her decision. Inevitably the justice meted out was not always as pure and as well prepared for as cases which proceed to a full trial in this court or a substantive hearing before an arbitrator. There was no obligation as such on the adjudicator to have a site inspection. It was a matter entirely for his or her discretion in the circumstances. The adjudicator in the instant case (i) formed the view that there could not be a set off and counterclaim as such (although he did proceed to consider the alleged defects by way of abatement) because there was no withholding notice (ii) clearly felt that he had sufficient evidence and argument before him to decide what was the primary issue, so far as defects were concerned, namely whether or not the defects complained of were design defects or bad workmanship defects and (iii) formed the view that if the defects were of design, the contractor was not responsible under the JCT contract. An adjudicator should not be criticised for deciding not to have a site visit where (i) It was clear that the adjudicator believed in good faith that he had sufficient information for him to reach his decision within the fairly short period allowed by the parties and (ii) It had not been and could not be established that it was essential that a sit visit should take place.