The secretary of state for transport commenced arbitration against Amec in respect of defects to a bridge. Amec argued that the secretary of state’s notice of arbitration was invalid. About six months before the six-year limitation period was about to expire defects became apparent to the viaduct that had been constructed by Amec. Twelve days before the limitation period was about to expire the Highways Agency referred a dispute (as to whether the defect was caused by the roller bearings) to the engineer in accordance with clause 66. Seven days later the engineer gave a decision stating that Amec had installed bearings that were not in accordance with the contract. The following day the secretary of state gave notice of arbitration. These timescales were short, and Amec had not accepted nor denied liability. Amec argued that no dispute existed, and therefore no valid engineers decision had been given and as a result there was nothing to be referred to arbitration.

This was an appeal focusing specifically on the meaning of “dispute” pursuant to clause 66 of the ICE Conditions of Contract in the context of arbitration.