In a case involving Morrison Construction and Macob Civil Engineering, the court ruled that the right of a losing party to go to arbitration and challenge an adjudicator's decision should not delay payment owed as a result of the adjudicator's decision.
The judgment was made last Friday by Mr Justice Dyson, senior judge in the Technology and Construction Court, after Morrison challenged an adjudicator's decision ordering it to pay £300 000 plus interest and costs to Macob.
Morrison had argued that the case should go to arbitration before any payment was made to Macob.
The court ruling stated that the adjudicator's decision was binding and that Morrison was in default by refusing to pay the sum owed to Macob.
Constructors Liaison Group legal adviser Rudi Klein said: "It's an excellent decision that means the adjudicator is master in his own house. It will cause a lot of companies to think very carefully about not complying with adjudicators' decisions in future."
He added: "The fact now is that Morrison must pay the sum owed. If they don't, the court can enforce payment."
John Huxtable, director of the Confederation of Construction Specialists, said: "It gives adjudicators the teeth that parliament intended them to have."
A spokesman for Morrison said: "While Morrison fully supports the principles behind the Construction Act, we do not believe that the act was brought in to deal with disputes arising in relation to a final account that remains disputed."
Macob was unavailable for comment.