In a recent High Court decision in Gravity Construction Limited v Total Highway Maintenance, Mr Justice Garrett Simons granted an order for the enforcement of an adjudicator’s decision unless the sum awarded by the adjudicator was paid within seven days.
Jamie Ritchie and Ian Lavelle from our Projects and Construction Team discuss the judgment in this note.
The case concerned an adjudication pursuant to the Construction Contracts Act 2013 (the “CCA”). The CCA regulates payment in construction contracts and it introduced, for the first time in Ireland, a statutory right for parties to a construction contract to refer payment disputes to adjudication. Broadly speaking, adjudication is a fast-track dispute resolution mechanism whereby an independent third party, the adjudicator, is appointed to make a decision on the dispute. The adjudicator’s decision is binding until the dispute is finally settled by the parties or a different decision is reached by a court or an arbitrator.
The applicant, Gravity Construction Limited (“Gravity”), had the benefit of an adjudication award dated 28 April 2020 awarding the sum of €135,458.92 (net of VAT) which was originally payable within fourteen days of the date of the adjudicator’s decision. The respondent failed to comply with the adjudicator’s decision, so Gravity commenced proceedings with a view to enforcing it.
In a judgment which could have significant implications for construction disputes in Ireland, Mr Justice Garrett Simons granted an order providing that Gravity has leave to enforce the adjudicator’s decision in the same manner as a judgment or order of the High Court, and that judgment be entered against the respondent unless the sum awarded by the adjudicator was paid within seven days.
This is a welcome decision. Prior to it, there had been a degree of reticence amongst many potential claimants to embrace adjudication under the CCA. There were a number of reasons for this, including the nature of the construction market in Ireland and the historic preference for other forms of dispute resolution (such as conciliation), but the paucity of judgments concerning the CCA was certainly a factor too. The High Court’s decision to support the adjudicator’s decision by granting an ‘unless order’, should hopefully build confidence in the adjudication process here.
LK Shields Solicitors LLP is one of a small number of law firms in Ireland that have been instructed in construction adjudications pursuant to the CCA. If you require any advice in relation to the adjudication process, please do not hesitate to contact our Projects and Construction Team.
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