Dispute With Builder Leads to Costly Outcome for Homeowner

19th March 2020 By

If you are involved in a dispute with your builder, taking sound legal advice is by far the best means of ensuring that matters do not get out of hand. One householder who failed to take that sensible course found himself embroiled in costly legal proceedings and on the receiving end of a substantial bill.

The man engaged a building firm to deal with some persistent leaks in his basement. Rather than entering into a fixed-price contract, he orally agreed to pay the firm a daily rate for its work. After forming the view that the firm was disreputable, he dispensed with its services before the work was complete.

The firm’s bill went unpaid and, after it referred the dispute to an adjudicator, he directed the man to pay the firm £6,456 for its work, together with his £3,726 fee. The man not having paid either of those sums, the firm launched High Court enforcement proceedings against him.

Ruling on the matter, the Court noted that the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 gives parties to a construction contract the right to refer a dispute to adjudication. Excluded from that provision, however, are contracts where the works concerned are to a residential dwelling occupied as a residence by one of the parties. On the face of it, therefore, the adjudicator had no jurisdiction to consider the dispute.

However, it is well established that, even where there is no formal jurisdiction, an adjudicator’s decision will be treated as enforceable where both sides in a dispute have engaged fully in the adjudication process on the merits. The man had done just that and there was no question of him having been put under duress to participate. He had thus waived his right to challenge the adjudicator’s decision on jurisdictional grounds and his ignorance of the law was no defence.

The Court also rejected the man’s plea that the adjudicator had given an appearance of bias. He had been appointed by an independent third party, the President of the Chartered Institute of Building, and was adamant that none of the firm’s personnel were known to him prior to the dispute being referred to him. It was also no part of the Court’s role to second-guess the adjudicator’s conclusions on the merits. The firm was granted summary judgment against the man in the full amount of the adjudicator’s award.

Source: Concious

Latest News

Challenge to Will's Validity Rejected by High Court

12th April, 2024 By

The best way to ensure your assets will be distributed as you wish is to have your will professionally drafted by a qualified solicitor. In a recent case, a challenge to the validity of an elderly man's will was dismissed by the High Court. The man had previously made a will in 2011, leaving most of his estate equally to his three children. In 2018, by which time one of his sons had predeceased him, he made a further will, leaving the residue of his estate to his other son...

Defiance of Family Court Orders Will Always End Badly

10th April, 2024 By

Custodial sentences very rarely come into play in the family courts. Where there have been repeated breaches of court orders, however, judges may have little choice but to clamp down. This was illustrated in the High Court during committal proceedings that stemmed from a child custody dispute. The background to the case involved contested proceedings between the father and mother of a young child. These concluded with a court order establishing that the child – a daughter – would live with the mother. Three months later the daughter travelled with...

Claim for SDLT Relief on Annex Unsuccessful

8th April, 2024 By

When buying a property consisting of more than one residence, it may be possible to claim multiple dwellings relief (MDR) against Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). However, there are certain conditions that must be met for an MDR claim to succeed, as a recent case illustrates. A property was purchased for £1.8 million. Prior to the purchase, the buyer had agreed with the seller that he would be allowed to carry out works to construct a self-contained annex at the property. The buyer's SDLT return included a claim for MDR...

Divorce – Alleged Bigamy Raised in Financial Remedies Dispute

5th April, 2024 By

The issue of bigamy and its potential impact on a person's ability to seek financial remedies in a divorce came under the legal spotlight recently. A husband made an application to strike out his wife's financial remedies claim on the basis that she had committed bigamy and deceived him into a marriage when she knew she was not free to marry. This deceit, he claimed, was so egregious that, as a matter of public policy, she should be debarred from pursuing any claim for financial remedies against him. The husband based...