Multiple disputes can sometimes arise out of a single contract and, in a guideline decision, the High Court has ruled that an adjudicator erred in purporting to consider two such matters at the same time without the specific consent of the parties.
Company A, the main contractor in a hotel refurbishment project, had engaged company B to supply and install joinery items. A number of disagreements arose and three of them were put before the same adjudicator. The first adjudication resulted in an award of almost £73,000 to company B which had been duly paid.
The remaining two matters were dealt with by the adjudicator at the same time. He ruled in company B’s favour on both matters and awarded, respectively, £120,559 and £38,491. Company B launched proceedings to enforce those awards but that was resisted by company A.
The Court rejected company A’s arguments that aspects of the procedure followed by the adjudicator were unfair and breached the rules of natural justice. However, it ruled that the adjudicator had had no jurisdiction, without the consent of the parties, to adjudicate at the same time on more than one dispute. The award of £38,491 was therefore unenforceable.