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TCC decision on the meaning of ‘a dispute’ in construction adjudication

In Witney Town Council v Beam Construction (Cheltenham) Ltd  [2011] EWHC 2332 (TCC) the court rejected the employer’s contention that the adjudicator lacked jurisdiction because more than one dispute had been referred to adjudication. Akenhead J held that the Notice of Adjudication and the Referral Notice are not necessarily determinative of what the true dispute is, or whether there is more than one dispute; it is also necessary to consider the background facts. The Judge provided the following guidance: if there is a clear link between two or more arguably separate claims or assertions, that may well point to there being only one dispute and a ‘useful if not invariable rule of thumb’ is: if disputed claim no. 1 cannot be decided without deciding all or parts of disputed claim no. 2, that establishes such a clear link and points to there being only one dispute.

Ian Wright appeared for the successful contractor, instructed by Harrison Clark LLP.

Click here for a copy of the judgment.

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