The arbitrator's finding that the architect's instruction had contractual effect was a question of fact that did not raise a question of law. It was only possible to appeal questions of law, and as the arbitrator's finding was one of fact Hallamshire could not appeal the arbitrator's award. In any event, the arbitrator had correctly interpreted the instructions given the facts leading up to the issue of that instruction. There had been agreement as to price, thus satisfying the requirements for a contract; the quantity surveyors were to agree "fair and reasonable costs". This did not require final negotiations for a lump sum contract, but was simply a process of agreeing individual items and their costs. The appeal was therefore dismissed.
*Full case details
Hallamshire Construction Plc vs South Holland District Council, 16 January 2004, TCC
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It is only possible to appeal an arbitrator's award in very limited circumstances. The arbitrator must have made an error of law, not of fact. An arbitrator's decision in respect of facts is final. One might have thought that an arbitrator's decision as to whether the parties had legally formed a contract might be a question of law. However, this case confirms that an arbitrator's finding that an instruction issued by an architect amounting to a variation is a question of fact.