WHAT IS ADJUDICATION?
Adjudication is a private and confidential dispute resolution process that can be used to resolve disputes resulting from building and construction contracts, including the work of builders, specialist trades, contractors, subcontractors, quantity surveyors, engineers and designers. Issues resolved in adjudication typically range from disputes over unpaid invoices to disagreements over defective work or code of compliance, among many others.
Adjudication is usually conducted entirely on the documents –this means that there are no hearings or meetings. It is a fast and straightforward process governed by the Construction Contracts Act 2002, and most disputes are resolved within 6 weeks, which makes adjudication faster than a typical court case.
Either party to a construction contract can refer a dispute to adjudication, even if the other party refuses to participate. The party referring the dispute to adjudication (aka the claimant) may secure the appointment of a Building Disputes Tribunal adjudicator within 24 hours of making an application. The other party (aka respondent) cannot delay or avoid the adjudication process and, as long as the adjudicator issues a determination, both parties will be bound by the outcome, whether or not the respondent has participated in the process.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I don't have a contract, but I have a building dispute. Can I use adjudication?
If you don’t have a written contract, you may still be able to use adjudication under the Construction Contracts Act 2002 to resolve building and construction disputes. Contracts can be verbal, written or by a handshake. However, if the terms of your contract have been agreed verbally, you may be required to also prove the terms and conditions of your verbal agreement. In these circumstances, it is recommended that you seek legal advice to ensure that you can support your adjudication claim with sufficient evidence.
Do I need a lawyer?
Parties are not required to use a lawyer, however, depending on your case, you might want to get legal advice especially if you are unsure about your rights or obligations under your contract. If you decide to proceed to adjudication, you can either represent yourself during the process, or you can choose to have a lawyer assisting you in full or in part, either acting on your behalf, or assisting you behind the scenes.
Can I use adjudication even if my contract says I have to try mediation first?
Any party to a construction contract has the statutory right to refer a building dispute to adjudication at any time –the Construction Contracts Act prevails over private agreements.
How long does adjudication take?
On average, the process can take 6-7 weeks. Each party will have the opportunity to make their written submissions, and the Adjudicator will make his or her decision (aka Determination) within 20-30 working days of receipt of the respondent’s response to the adjudication claim. Talk to us for a detailed timeline of the process.
What if the respondent doesn't pay? Are the decisions enforceable?
An adjudicator’s determination is enforceable in a District Court as long as there is no other court decision on the same matter. This is applicable to commercial and residential contracts entered after 1 December 2015, as well as commercial contracts entered before 1 December 2015.