The right at any time

Adjudication is now the most popular process used in the UK to settle construction disputes arising under the contract. Since its introduction in 1998, (Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration Act (HGCR) 1996), a party’s right to adjudication at any time has been exercised in thousands of disputes, many being finally resolved by this process. The adjudication process will either be defined in the contract or if not, follow the Scheme for Construction Contracts.

Adjudicators may be named in the contract, agreed on an ad-hoc basis once a dispute has arisen or sourced from an adjudicator nominating body.

It is the intention that the Adjudicator shall make and issue his or her decision within 28 days of the notice to refer the dispute to adjudication. Although the period can be extended, in general the process is supposed to be a quick method of temporarily resolving differences.

If payment of an adjudicators decision by the losing party is not forthcoming then the courts will readily enforce the decision except where jurisdictional questions or breaches of natural justice occur.

However, sometimes the process may lead to rough justice as the courts will enforce an Adjudicators’ decision even if it is obviously wrong in fact, law, or both. As one judge stated: "the need for a right answer has been sacrificed in favour of the need for a quick answer".