Adjudication goes ahead despite COVID-19

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Millchris Developments v Waters (2020) 4WLUK 45; (2020) BLM, Jefford J.

Facts

Millchris Developments built a new residential property for Mr Waters. Mr Waters alleged that he had overpaid £45,000 and brought an adjudication against Millchris in March 2020.

An Adjudicator was appointed who announced that he would proceed with adjudication despite the lockdown and ordered a site visit.

Millchris’s solicitor was self-isolating.  She applied for an injunction to stop the adjudication going ahead until after the lockdown.  She said she could not attend a site visit, could not make representations on behalf of her client, and it was impossible for her to get a witness statement from the client.

Held

  1. There was no risk of a serious breach of natural justice if the adjudication went ahead. These were normal problems, not caused by the lockdown, and the Adjudicator had offered to get a two week extension.
  2. Millchris did not need to attend the site development itself or by its solicitor; the adjudicator could attend by himself and make his own mind up.
  3. The application was refused.

Comment

This is a robust decision which continues the well-established policy of pushing and supporting adjudication wherever possible, except in clear circumstances of serious breach of natural justice.

Note that none of the tests for granting an injunction set by the leading case – American Cyanamid – were met  (e.g., there was no serious underlying issue, and damages would not be sufficient, etc).

For more specialist legal advice please get in touch with Lucilla Waugh on 0191 211 7984 or email [email protected]