The Adjudication Claim
The service of the notice of acceptance by the adjudicator sets in train a process whereby the parties present their respective cases and evidence to the adjudicator in an extremely short period of time by comparison with conventional dispute resolution processes.
The claimant must refer the dispute in writing (the adjudication claim) to the adjudicator within five working days of receiving the adjudicator’s notice of acceptance (s36(1)). There is no provision in the Act that allows the adjudicator to extend that period and, accordingly, any failure on the part of the claimant will simply bring the proceedings to an abrupt end. Such failure is not of itself fatal for the claimant, but if the claimant subsequently decides to refer the dispute to adjudication, it will require a fresh notice of adjudication to be served and a new application for appointment of an adjudicator to be made.
The claimant must serve a copy of the adjudication claim and any accompanying documents on every other party to the adjudication either before or immediately after they are served on the adjudicator.
The adjudication claim must specify the nature or the grounds of the dispute and, to the extent that it remains relevant, be accompanied by a copy of the notice of adjudication and may be accompanied by any other documents (s36(2)).
The adjudication claim must be consistent with the notice of adjudication because the notice of adjudication fixes the adjudicator’s jurisdiction in relation to the nature and scope of the dispute that he or she may determine. If any new or different matters are raised in the claim, there is simply no jurisdiction for the adjudicator to deal with those matters unless the parties agree to extend the adjudicator’s jurisdiction, which agreement, experience tells us, is unlikely.
The Act does not prescribe any particular form for the adjudication claim and a claimant is not limited to the arguments, contentions and evidence put forward by it before the dispute crystallised, when submitting its adjudication claim.
A claim will typically take the form of a simple narrative but in every case the claim should be clear, concise, cogent, and accurate. We often say that the best approach to drafting the claim is to draft it as if you were telling your story to a neighbour over the fence or a reasonably intelligent teenager – it does not need to be drafted using ‘legalese’ and repeating a point over and over again does not make it any more convincing or compelling. Clarity and cogency are key!
The claimant should spell out in a logical and sequential manner, the relevant chronological background to the claim, identify in precise terms the disputed issues that have arisen, the claimant’s case and the reasons for the dispute in relation to those matters, and the factual and legal basis upon which the claimant believes it is entitled to a determination in its favour.
It is important that the claimant includes with its claim, all relevant evidence, documents, authorities, and other material that it seeks to rely on in support of its claim. Once again we often say to parties that the adjudicator does not need to know what you had for breakfast or what the other party has done to someone else – it’s really not relevant to your case and by including screeds of irrelevant material you risk the critical material being overlooked.
To view a sample template for an adjudication claim, click here.