The claimant contractor sought to enforce the decision of an adjudicator made in its favour. The defendant refused to pay on the basis that the adjudicator did not have any jurisdiction to hear the dispute, because there was no construction contract incorporating adjudication provisions. The dispute related to work carried out to the defendant’s home.
The claimant relied upon a letter written to the defendant stating that the JCT Standard Form of Building Contract with Contractor’s Design “1988 Edition” were to apply. In the letter the dispute resolution provisions were mentioned specifically. The defendant argued that there was no such 1988 Edition, only the 1981 and 1998 Editions.
If a contract formed between the parties then did that contract contain a clause requiring the parties to submit their disputes to adjudication such that the residential owner was contractually obliged to comply with the adjudicator’s decision?
HHJ Havery held that the exchange of letters most likely constituted a contract between the parties. However, it was impossible to say whether adjudication provisions, if any, have been incorporated. The reference to the “1988 Edition” was most likely a typographical error, but it could easily have been a reference to the 1981 Edition of the contract or the 1998 Edition. In the absence of a date, the judge may have inferred that the parties intended to use the latest edition. However, as it was impossible to say which form of contract was to apply the decision was made without jurisdiction and the judge refused to enforce it.
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To be certain that adjudication will apply to a residential occupier (or any other type of construction contract outside of the Construction Act 1996) the parties must ensure that their contract contains a clause requiring them to adjudicate and comply with any decision of an adjudicator.