Case details: 16 June 2003, TCC, HHJ Seymour QC
His Honour Judge Seymour QC considered that the main ground upon which Stansell could rely was the failure of an opportunity to comment upon the final report of the planning expert. Stansell had been given the opportunity to comment upon the interim advice, but had not done so because it appeared to be in their favour. However, the adjudicator's decision was based upon the final report of the planner, which had not been provided to the parties. On that basis Judge Seymour refused to enforce the decision.
In respect of the alternative application for an interim payment, he said that once the basis of the decision had been successfully attacked it could not then be said that other amounts could be "salvaged from the wreckage" of the adjudicator's decision. He recognised that in some instances it might be possible for one of the matters in dispute to be identified from a decision that could then be enforced without enforcing the rest of the decision. However, this was not one of those cases.
This case is interesting because it demonstrates the dangers for an adjudicator of producing a decision based on a report that the parties have not had the opportunity to review and comment upon. The programming expert produced an interim report, and the parties had an opportunity to review it and comment upon it. However, the adjudicator made his decision based on a final report that the parties had not seen. One can sympathise with the adjudicator because no doubt he was trying to reach a reasoned decision within the limited timescale using the best available material. However, the message seems simple. The adjudicator should have based his decision on the interim report provided to the parties if there was not enough time available for the parties to comment on the final report. Alternatively, the final report should have been provided to the parties and their comments obtained before proceeding to the decision. It sounds simple enough, but trying to strike a balance within the short timescales of adjudication is far from straightforward.