When adjudication was first introduced in the United Kingdom, some were sceptical about its prospects. However, shortly after the introduction of adjudication, in Macob Civil Engineering Ltd v Morrison Construction Limited,[1] the courts gave support to the process and since then adjudication has become a mainstay for resolving construction disputes. Indeed, more recently the Supreme Court of England and Wales in Bresco Electrical Services Limited (in Liquidation) v Lonsdale[2] has noted that although adjudication is one of a spectrum of dispute resolution mechanisms which range from negotiation at one end, through to mediation and arbitration / litigation at the other, adjudication has proved to be a mainstream dispute resolution mechanism in its own right ‘producing de facto final resolution of most of the disputes referred to an adjudicator.’ In Meadowside Building Developments Limited v Astec Projects Limited[3] the court noted that generally ‘the parties regard the [adjudicator’s] decision as a decent attempt to arrive at a fair resolution of the competing positions, the parties generally treat the decision as binding or negotiate a settlement around it.

Adjudication is on a similar trajectory in Ireland. Although, the take up for adjudication was slow at the outset, the number of referrals has steadily increased, with 81 applications made to the Chair Person of the Construction Contracts Adjudication Panel in the period from 26 July 2021 to 25 July 2022[4]. On top these applications, parties have appointed adjudicators by agreement. Although, the vast majority of disputes referred were between sub-contractors and main contractors, and main contractors and employers, construction professionals also utilised the process as a means of resolving disputes. The increase in the number of referrals is, in our view, due to more awareness and confidence amongst the various stakeholders that adjudication is a mainstream dispute resolution mechanism.  We suspect that there was also an initial fear amongst stakeholders that a referral to adjudication would be detrimental to a stakeholder’s reputation in a smaller market, where business-to-business relationships are potentially more important than in the United Kingdom.  This fear seems to be receding as adjudication becomes more commonplace.

The increased confidence in adjudication likely also comes from the Irish courts’ support for the process. To date, the courts have enforced contested adjudicator’s decisions. For example, in a recent case, the court noted that where an adjudicator’s decision is challenged the court ‘will have regard to the adjudicator’s decision in the round; the decision is not to be parsed line-by-line.’ However, this does not mean that adjudicators are given free reign when it comes to decision making. The court has warned that it would not ‘lend its authority to the enforcement of an adjudicator’s decision, even on a temporary basis, where there has been an obvious breach of fair procedures.’ Such restraint is needed to prevent an abuse of process and to uphold the integrity of adjudication.

Our experience accords with the upward trajectory of referrals and the growing confidence of our clients in the adjudication process. We have found that our clients, whom were traditionally more amenable to conciliation or other forms of dispute resolution, now consider adjudication as a mainstream dispute resolution mechanism and it is often their first port of call. Acting for employers, contractors and sub-contractors, we were involved in several adjudications both in seeking payment and in defending payment claims. Disputed amounts ranged in value from a few hundred thousand euros to multi-million euro disputes on engineering and construction projects. Our team has experience of adjudication in both Ireland and the United Kingdom. We have found that the adjudication process is generally working well, and is a cost-effective way of resolving disputes. Adjudication enables parties to refer specific payment claims to adjudication as part of overall dispute resolution strategy to resolve all differences between the parties. We have also seen parties agreeing to use an adjudication process for contracts which would otherwise fall outside the scope of the Construction Contracts Act 2013. To us, this indicates our client’s confidence in the process.

Since adjudication was introduced we have experience of dealing with several members of the Construction Contracts Adjudication Panel and have complied a valuable bank of adjudicators’ decisions. This has proved extremely useful in advising our clients regarding potentially agreeing an adjudicator or considering various strategies once a nomination has been made by the Chairperson of the Construction Contracts Adjudication Panel. Overall, our impression is that the upward trajectory in the use of adjudication for resolving payment disputes will continue across 2023 and adjudication will continue to occupy centre stage as the primary forum of choice for the resolution of construction and engineering disputes.


[1] [1999] EWHC Technology 254

[2] [2020] UKSC 25

[3] [2019] EWHC 3352 (TCC)

[4] Sixth Annual Report of the Chair Person of the Construction Contracts Adjudication Panel, August 2022

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Photo of Paul Hughes Paul Hughes

Paul Hughes is a senior associate in A&L Goodbody’s Construction & Engineering group. Paul has extensive experience in construction disputes and acts for employers, contractors and sub-contractors across multiple sectors, including, civil engineering, residential, commercial, educational, refurbishment, repair and maintenance and energy. Paul…

Paul Hughes is a senior associate in A&L Goodbody’s Construction & Engineering group. Paul has extensive experience in construction disputes and acts for employers, contractors and sub-contractors across multiple sectors, including, civil engineering, residential, commercial, educational, refurbishment, repair and maintenance and energy. Paul has expertise in disputes concerning extensions of time, loss and expense, defects, variations, payments, final accounts, true valuations, termination and asbestos. Paul has experience of dealing with disputes arising under the standard forms of contract, including, JCT, NEC, FIDIC, PWC & RIAI and ancillary agreements. Paul holds a PhD (Law) and is a solicitor in both Ireland and England and Wales. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS), the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (FSCSI), the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (FCInstCES) and the Chartered Institution of Arbitrators (FCIArb).