A Court of Appeal judgment kicked off the year by making adjudication the last word in the dispute resolution process. The court decided the adjudicator's decision is final even if the contract says otherwise. The judges ruled that anything in the contract attempting to limit the effectiveness of an adjudicator was against the wishes of parliament. But with adjudication claims getting more sophisticated, will adjudicators – restricted to a 28-day timetable – be able live up to their billing as mini-judges?
Sahib Foods vs Paskin Kyriakides Sands
This is the case in which an Indian chef managed to burn down a building, causing £17m of damage, but the architect got the bill.
In refurbishing the food processing plant for Sahib Foods, Paskin Kyriakides and Sands were told by the client not to use non-combustible wall panels. However, because the panels would have stopped the building burning down, the judge said the architects had been negligent. So designers will have to assume that their clients are not always right.
JCT Major Project Form
This contract was created in the summer for large clients and their contractors and to avoid the reams of amendments that accompanied the JCT Design and Build form. The Major Project Form spells out the contractor's risks and responsibilities and on this basis it could supersede its predecessor. But people are already picking holes in it. Will funders and potential purchasers feel safe with the third-party rights provisions? Does it favour the employer? Will it be the source of many a columnist's complaints, or will it forever be compared to sliced bread?
Stephen Donald vs Christopher King
This was one of the more entertaining cases of 2003. King and Donald had met in their local watering hole, where they often talked about their need for money. One day, Donald suggested King convert some property into flats, and he would do the design. When the designs were produced, they were fabulously expensive. Relations broke down. Among the mysteries Judge Seymour had to unravel was a cheque for £47,000, given by King to Donald after three bottles of wine had been consumed. The verdict was that King did not have to pay the fees, and Donald did not owe him any damages. The whole thing was a lot of talk down the boozer.
Rupert Morgan Building Services vs Jervis and Jervis
This case is only the seventh to start in adjudication and end in the Court of Appeal. The clients refused to pay the amount on the architect's certificate because they argued that the work had not been done and the sum was not "due". However, the Court of Appeal judges decided that since Jervis and Jervis hadn't served a withholding notice under section 111 of the Construction Act, they had to pay up. After this judgment, if you have any queries about the bill you'd better serve a withholding notice or you might as well hand over your wallet …