This is a Court of Appeal decision. At first instance, the judge refused to enforce the adjudicator’s decision.This was because he came to the conclusion that there was more than one dispute. The contractor’s notice of adjudication identified a dispute in respect of the date for completion of the contract, and also the sum of Valuation No. 9. The adjudicator dealt with both of these issues and made a decision. At enforcement, the first instance judge concluded that there were two separate disputes and therefore refused to enforce the decision. Under the Act, it is only possible to refer “a dispute” not multiple disputes.

Lord Justice Dyson gave the leading judgment. He concluded that the first instance judge was entirely correct. The question as to whether more than one dispute had been referred was a question of fact. In this instance, there were two unrelated disputes. While the completion date was in dispute, there was no link between that dispute and Valuation 9. The contractor argued that one of the items in the valuation relating to the supply of a Portakabin (being a time-related item) meant that there was some link between the valuation and the completion date. The contractor argued that the role of the adjudicator was inquisitorial, and therefore the adjudicator while acting inquisitorial would have realised that the time-related Portakabin had some impact on the completion date.

Lord Justice Dyson considered that the Portakabin had no materiality to the issues that had been raised with the adjudicator. He said that if Valuation 9 had included the claim for extended preliminaries relating to the completion date, then there would have been a clear link, and so there would have been one dispute. He noted that the time-related claim was in fact included in Valuation 10 which had not been referred to adjudication.