Once a notice of referral is served by a referring party, a responding party will be under significant pressure given the extremely tight timeframe for an adjudication.

The process is also open to a situation where the referring party serves a notice of referral to adjudication at a time that makes quick turnaround more challenging for the responding party, for example on a Friday evening or before a holiday period such as Easter or Christmas, in an attempt to gain advantage. This tactic if often referred to as an “ambush adjudication”.

It is therefore critical that, in the event an adjudication referral is received, you are as prepared as possible to handle it efficiently. This guide book sets out some key steps and considerations in this regard.

Preparation is key

In order to be fully prepared for an adjudication, please consider the below practical tips:

Being aware of a potential adjudication

There are often signs that a contractor is considering an adjudication – they rarely arrive as an ambush. But in order to recognise these signs, you should be alert to the below indicators:

If you notice any of the above signs, or if there is a breakdown in relationships, it is advisable to have a chat with your legal team to consider if an adjudication may be in the pipeline.

Records, records, records

It is important that all documents are organised and accessible in the event of an adjudication – witness evidence is often undermined by the lack of supporting documents. If someone is moving on from your organisation, make sure all their documents are filed correctly.

Examples of documents that are likely to be required are:

  • contract documents including all appendices;
  • contemporaneous records: minutes, diaries, photographs, time sheets;
  • details of any previous EOTs/contract sum adjustments;
  • variations; and
  • all correspondence relating to the payment dispute.


Given the time pressure that arises when an adjudication is initiated, it is important to be as prepared as possible during the construction works. Good document management and housekeeping is key in this preparation.