Outside view of RPC's transparent glass building.

Time limit for challenges to adjudication decisions clarified

Published on 01 July 2015

Adjudication is intended to be a quick and cost-effective means of resolving a dispute.

However, in its first decision concerning adjudication, handed down on 17 June 2015, the Supreme Court has reached a finding that means parties to adjudication may face a very long delay to reach a final determination of the dispute between them. The decision, in the case of Aspect Contracts (Asbestos) Limited v Higgins Construction plc, allows a respondent to adjudication to challenge the outcome any time up to six years after it makes payment to the successful referring party, thereby potentially rendering historic  adjudication decisions vulnerable to further litigation.

In 2004, Higgins instructed Aspect to conduct an asbestos survey. The survey, completed in April 2004, failed to identify all of the asbestos on site. When Higgins discovered the further asbestos, it had to take steps to remove it, which resulted in delays to the project and further costs. Higgins claimed damages from Aspect under the contract. Aspect disputed Higgins’ entitlement to the claimed damages.