There is a general consensus that referral of payment disputes to statutory adjudication pursuant to the Construction Contracts Act, 2013 (the Act) is increasing in popularity year on year. This view has recently been supported by the Chairperson of the Construction Contracts Adjudication Panel, in his sixth annual report which was published in November 2022. It shows an increase of almost 60% in requests for the Chairperson to appoint an adjudicator to a payment dispute when compared to the previous year.

The annual report does not definitively provide all information relating to adjudications in the past year, namely given that:

  • additional adjudications are likely to have taken place where the parties agreed on the appointment of the Adjudicator without recourse to the Construction Contracts Adjudication Service; and
  • not all adjudicators provided details on each adjudication they were involved in

Notwithstanding this, it does provide some insight into the adjudication trends that can be expected in the near future. In total, 58 adjudicators provided detailed information on the outcome of adjudication cases. The annual report is therefore based upon such 58 data returns from adjudicators. A summary of the key results from the annual report are as follows:

  • Architects made up of the majority of adjudicators appointed (15) followed closely by quantity surveyors (14) and barristers (10). The rest of the adjudicators appointed listed their primary professional qualification as adjudicator as Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (9) and engineer (7). Solicitors make up the remaining three adjudicators that were appointed.
  • Dublin was the principal site location of the payment dispute in over 40% of the cases
  • The most common dispute referred for adjudication involved a subcontractor in dispute with a main contractor, with the referral being made by the subcontractor with 28 adjudications occurring in this manner. The second most common dispute referred to adjudication involved a main contractor an employer in the private sector with 18 such adjudications.
  • 28 disputes referred to adjudication related to final payment disputes followed by 22 interim payment disputes, 7 “other payment” disputes and 1 unknown.
  • The highest number of cases involved amounts in the range of €100,000 to €500,000 (21 adjudications) followed by 12 adjudications which involved amounts in the region of €1 million to €5 million. One adjudication reported related to an amount between €5 million and €10 million.

Of the 58 adjudications reported on, there were 36 decisions issued. The reasons why a decision was not issued include:

  • eight where the appointment was revoked (dispute settled or other reason);
  • seven where the adjudicator had no jurisdiction;
  • six adjudicators resigned from their position; and
  • one where the dispute was subsequently withdrawn by the referring party.

Out of the 36 adjudicator decisions, notably in 24 cases the referring party was successful. There was eight split decisions and four instances where the responding party was successful.

A total of 32 cases resulted in monetary awards made by the adjudicator. In the four cases where no money was awarded, the responding party was the successful party.

In total, 15 adjudicators made their decision within 42 days, 15 made their decision within a different timescale and 6 made their decision within 28 days.The majority of adjudicators charge in the region of €201 to €350 per hour.

 There was 236 applications to the Chairperson of the Construction Contracts Adjudication Panel for the appointment of an adjudicator which reflects an almost 60% increase when compared to the previous year.

The Chairperson concludes his annual report by emphasising that in order for payment disputes to be avoided in the first instance, it is important that employers, main contractors and subcontractors adhere to their obligations set out in the Act. He also reiterated the fact that if a party to a construction contract, as defined under the Act, is contemplating referring a payment dispute for adjudication, all appropriate procedures required under the Act and the ‘Code of Practice Governing the Conduct of Adjudications’ should be followed.

For more details on the sixth annual report of the Chairperson of the Construction Contracts Adjudication Panel, please see here.