The claimant, Mott MacDonald Ltd (MM), is a specialist construction engineering consultant. It undertook a variety of engineering services for the defendant, property developer London & Regional Properties Ltd (LRP) in relation to the phase 2 infrastructure works for a business park at Park Royal, London. These services, which included the necessary planning application and subsequent detailed engineering work for various road works and bridges, were carried out between December 1997 and February 2006.

MM initially provided consultancy services to LRP in 1997, operating without any formal agreement. MM continued to provide consultancy services on an informal basis until 1999, when LRP furnished MM with a letter of intent. This was originally due to expire on 31 December 1999, but was later extended until 31 October 2000. No further letter of intent or written confirmation was sent to MM, however MM continued to undertake services after the letter of intent expired.

A dispute arose between MM and LRP as to the non-payment of invoiced fees. MM applied to the RICS for an adjudication to claim fees that had been incurred between January 2003 and February 2006. MM claimed a total sum (excluding VAT) of £62,767.52. LRP declined to pay those sums, arguing that there was no formal agreement in place between MM and LRP. In an interesting twist to the tale, the adjudicator notified the parties that he had reached his decision on 7 December 2006 (the day before the expiry of the 28-day decision period) but it was not in fact received until 14 December 2006. The adjudicator had insisted that the referring party pay his fees before he sent it out. In terms of the decision itself, the adjudicator held that the letter of intent had not lapsed and that it had continued to govern the parties’ relationship. LRP refused to abide by the adjudicator’s decision. MM made an application for summary judgment for enforcement of that decision.

A number of issues arose at trial. The main ones were:

1 Whether there was a contract between the parties and, if so, whether it was a “construction contract” for the purposes of the Construction Act

2 When did the adjudicator reach his decision and was he entitled to insist that the referring party pay his fees before he delivered it?