Samuel Okoronkwo

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Can I Manage Adjudication Myself?

Construction adjudication might seem straightforward, but it is best undertaken with experienced experts. While it is possible to manage the adjudication process on your own, there are several critical reasons why enlisting professional assistance from firms like Mercantile Barristers can be invaluable.


Adjudication, while faster than traditional court proceedings, follows a strict procedural framework. This includes tight deadlines for submissions and responses, specific requirements for the content of those submissions, and rules regarding the presentation of evidence. Failure to adhere to these rules can lead to the dismissal of a claim or the weakening of a defence.


The Adjudicator’s Role

Adjudicators are bound by principles of fairness and impartiality. This means they maintain neutrality and do not favour either party. Unlike in some legal settings where a judge may provide guidance or clarification, Adjudicators do not have a mandate to help parties understand legal complexities or aid in framing their arguments.


Parties representing themselves often face the challenge of understanding complex legal jargon and contractual nuances. However, it is crucial to note that Adjudicators will not provide legal advice or assist in interpreting contract clauses. They assess the case based on the evidence and arguments presented, without guiding parties on how to strengthen or clarify their positions.


The Adjudicator’s job is to evaluate the submissions as they are. If a party’s submission lacks clarity, is poorly structured, or fails to adequately support claims with evidence, the Adjudicator will not intervene to correct these shortcomings. This aspect is often overlooked by parties opting for self-representation, leading to weak presentations and, consequently, unfavourable outcomes.


The Adjudicator’s decision is based on the information provided by the parties. They do not conduct independent investigations or seek additional evidence outside what is presented. This confines their decision-making strictly to the scope of the presented case, emphasising the importance of a well-prepared and comprehensive submission.


Given the Adjudicator’s limited role, self-representing parties must be adept not only in the laws and regulations governing construction disputes but also in legal argumentation and evidence presentation. This is a tall order for anyone not versed in legal practice, and even more challenging under the pressure and time constraints of adjudication proceedings.


The risk here is multifaceted: not only does it involve the potential for a less favourable outcome, but it also includes the possibility of a completely overlooked or misunderstood claim due to inadequate presentation. Self-representation in adjudication carries significant financial risks. A poorly presented case can lead to an unfavourable decision, which, while interim, is binding and enforceable until challenged in court or resolved through other means. This can result in considerable financial implications, especially in high-value construction disputes. The cost of professional legal advice is often a prudent investment compared to the potential losses from an unsuccessful adjudication.


Complexity of Construction Disputes

Construction contracts often contain detailed clauses that require expert interpretation. Not only that, there is case law which adjudicators may or not be aware of. This complexity is compounded by the technical nature of construction projects, where disputes may involve intricate aspects of construction methodology, quality of work, or project management. Navigating these technicalities, alongside the legal jargon, can be a daunting task for someone without a legal background. A professional, like those at Mercantile Barristers, brings the necessary legal and technical expertise to dissect these issues effectively.


How Mercantile Barristers Can Help

At Mercantile Barristers, our expertise in construction law and adjudication processes ensures your case is presented with the necessary rigour and attention to detail. We assist in:


  • Analysing your contractual rights and obligations.
  • Crafting a compelling case or defence, supported by robust evidence.
  • Navigating the procedural aspects of adjudication, ensuring all submissions are timely and compliant.


While the prospect of managing adjudication independently might appear cost-effective, the complexities and potential pitfalls make professional guidance indispensable. With Mercantile Barristers, you’re not just hiring legal representation; you’re partnering with experts committed to protecting your interests and achieving the best possible outcome in your adjudication proceedings.


Remember, if you are faced with a construction dispute, Mercantile Barristers will be happy to assist. Do use the enquiry form below to contact us to discuss your matter further.

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