Willmott Dixon Housing Ltd v Newton Housing Trust

The contractor was entitled to refer the two disputes to adjudication by giving two notices of adjudication and making two referrals to adjudication at the same time.



Technology and Construction Court
Ramsey J
9th April 2013


The contract incorporated the Construction Industry Council Model Adjudication Procedure (the CIC rules). The contractor on the same day served two notices of adjudication in respect of separate disputes. The CIC appointed the same adjudicator for the two disputes.
The employer contended that the adjudicator had no jurisdiction. Section 108(1) provides that a construction contract has to enable a party to give notice of his intention to refer "a dispute” to adjudication and to provide a timetable with the object of securing the appointment of the adjudicator and referral of "the dispute" to him within seven days. The Act therefore clearly stipulates that a party is entitled to adjudicate "a dispute" and then refer that single dispute to adjudication.
Ramsey J rejected the employer’s contention on two bases.
The first basis assumed that section 108(1) precludes a party from referring more than a single dispute at the same time, which has been the orthodox view. There is nothing in the CIC rules or otherwise to prevent a party from giving two notices of adjudication at any time where each notice relates to only one single dispute and each of those adjudications is then referred to the same adjudicator. There is no limit as to when a party can commence one or more adjudications because a party has the right to give notice of adjudication "at any time" under section 108(2)(a).
The second basis assumed that section 108(1) does not preclude a party from referring more than a single dispute at the same time, contrary to the orthodox view. It was not necessary to decide whether the references in rule 8 of the CIC rules to "a dispute" or "the dispute" being referred limited the parties to referring one dispute because there were two separate references by two notices of adjudication. However, if it had been necessary to so decide, he would have held that the reference to "a dispute" or "the dispute" in rule 8 of the CIC rules was a generic reference which was not intended to limit the number of disputes which could be referred by one notice of adjudication because (i) Rule 36 refers to the adjudicator being appointed "to determine the dispute or disputes between the Parties" and (ii) The reference to "disputes" in rule 36 cannot properly be construed as being limited to cases of joinder of third parties under rule 22 (as was submitted by the employer).