CIB and Birse entered into a contract on 8 August 2000 for the construction of a data centre in Molesworth Street, London E13. CIB terminated the contract on 21 December 2001. Birse brought claims based upon the final account, and the cost of completing the works on the basis that CIB had wrongfully terminated the contract. CIB claimed the additional cost of completing the works after Birse had left the site.

An adjudicator’s decision was given on 28 August 2002. The parties continued after that date to deal with outstanding issues by way of correspondence, negotiation and a mediation. A second adjudication, which was the subject of this enforcement, was commenced late in 2003. Some three months later the decision was given on 24 February 2004, by which Birse was ordered to pay CIB £2,161,892. Birse refused to pay and CIB sought to enforce the decision.

Birse argued that: (1) there was no dispute because it had not crystallised as the parties were continuing ongoing discussions in order to try to resolve the matter, (2) the adjudication was not conducted fairly and impartially because of the tight timescale, the considerable documentation and an error in the adjudicator’s award, (3) the size and complexity of the dispute meant that it could not be resolved fairly by adjudication, and (4) the adjudicator decided that there was no liability for defects, but then went ahead and awarded a sum of money in any event, despite the fact that he had said that Birse was not liable for defects.