St Austell Printing Company v Dawnus Construction  CILL 3625. TCC. Coulson J
St Austell Printing Company hired Dawnus Construction to design and construct two warehouse/industrial units at St Austell. The parties fell out over the final account and particularly the effect of 115 changes and variations. Dawnus commenced an adjudication seeking to pursue only the measured value element of these various changes and variations.
St Austell’s defence was essentially that one could not cherry-pick limited parts of an interim application and therefore the adjudicator had no jurisdiction to deal with a “cherry-picked” claim.
This defence was rejected. A claimant is entitled to “prune” his original claim for the purposes of his reference to adjudication. Therefore if an interim application is for measured work, plus loss and expense, we can decide to focus only on those elements which are straightforward such as the claim for measured work.
The Judge said that pruning a claim in this way was a process which should be encouraged. Claims advanced in adjudication should be those claims which the Referring Party was confident of presenting properly within the necessary limits of a rough and ready adjudication process.
Nearly 20 years after the HGCRA came into force in 1996, losing parties are still putting ingenious defences before the courts, and the courts generally continue to deal with such defences robustly.