A court has ordered a company to pay a contractor the full amount awarded by an adjudicator following a dispute.
The company had engaged the contractor to carry out mechanical and electrical works at a hotel. When the contractor submitted a final invoice for the work undertaken, the company disputed the figure and did not pay.
The terms of the contract allowed for disputes to be settled by an independent adjudicator. He found in the contractor’s favour, but the company still refused to pay. It argued that a dispute had not crystallised by the date of the notice of adjudication, and therefore the adjudicator had not had jurisdiction.
The High Court found in favour of the contractor. It said the crystallisation argument was hopeless. In general terms, a claim that had not been accepted for a reasonable period was deemed to be disputed.
The correspondence between the two sides about the payment over a nine-month period was ample evidence of a dispute having crystallised. It was wrong in principle to suggest that a dispute had not arisen until every last part of every element of a claim had been provided.
A company could not resist a claim by repeatedly requesting further information.
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