A challenging case

Tony bingham 2017 bw web

Tony Bingham explains how a recent case clarifies the scope of adjudication and the adjudicator’s role

Aha – here they come, the jurisdiction challenges. It must be about day three of the latest adjudication, and the responding party is telling the adjudicator (as usual) to shove off – politely, of course. “Go away, because … er, well, let me think …” Aha! Yes: “There is no crystallised dispute”, or “there is more than one dispute”, or a “previous adjudicator decided the dispute”, or “there is a dispute but it’s not a construction dispute”, or, oh dear, “we have been ambushed”, or, or, or … Those of us who have been in the game these (exactly) 20 years of the Construction Act just shrug. We expect it; we are used to it. 

In fact, these lists of “clear offs” have got longer and longer. And a recent Scottish case tells us why. 

Harndec Flooring supplied and laid the soft vinyl flooring to the classrooms and corridors at Cryston high school, North Lanarkshire. The floor comprised a concrete slab, then insulating board, then anhydrite screed, then a primer to take the latex levelling compound. It went wrong and began bubbling and blistering here, there, then everywhere. The defects bill was a tidy half-a-million pounds. The dispute went to the adjudicator, who decided Harndec was liable: it was down to the wrong primer, wrongly laid, plus damp in the screed. It came to court to oblige Harndec to pay up.

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