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07 November 2022

New report provides snapshot of UK's construction adjudication infrastructure

A new report finds the UK’s system for construction adjudication to be “robust and resilient”, while noting concerns over bias and a lack of diversity in key roles.

An aerial photograph looking down on a construction site.

The report, 2022 Construction Adjudication in the United Kingdom: Tracing trends and guiding reform, provides the broadest and deepest empirical analysis of UK construction adjudication to date. Co-authored by Professor Renato Nazzini and Aleksander Kalisz of the Centre of Construction Law and Dispute Resolution (CCLDR), it looks at the experience of construction adjudication in the UK from the perspective of users and key organisations, and provides an analysis of vital empirical data on key aspects of adjudication.

This report provides a comprehensive account of the state of play regarding adjudication in the United Kingdom. Our objective has been to gather and analyse reliable data that can inform practice and guide legal developments and reforms. Our analysis shows that adjudication is fit for purpose but there are also areas for potential improvement, for example when it comes to the disclosure of conflicts of interests, the diversity of adjudicators and so-called ‘smash and grab’ adjudications.

Professor Renato Nazzini, co-author of the report and Director of the Centre of Construction Law and Dispute Resolution

The report analyses data drawn from two questionnaires: one addressed to Adjudicator Nominating Bodies (ANBs); a second addressed to individuals involved with statutory adjudication. Ten ANBs replied to the first questionnaire, and 257 individuals replied to the second.

Statutory adjudication was introduced in the UK in 1998 and the report finds that referrals have steadily increased, reaching an all-time high in the year to April 2021. This suggests, the authors argue, that Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have not significantly affected the upward trend in adjudication referrals.

The authors found that:

  • parties predominantly comply with adjudicators’ decisions. 25% of questionnaire respondents said that they have never experienced an adjudicated dispute being referred to litigation or arbitration. 42% of respondents replied that this occurs in less than 5% of cases
  • 40% of questionnaire respondents suspected, at least on one occasion, that the adjudicator was biased toward one of the parties. The main cause of the suspicion of bias was the adjudicator’s relationship with the parties or party representatives
  • Few British ANBs publish the composition of their adjudicator panels online. Among the eight that do, women account for only 7.88% of listed adjudicators. There is no data on the representation of people with other protected characteristics
  • 58% of questionnaire respondents felt that adjudicators' decisions should not be published. However, 30% replied that they should be published with redactions, following the model adopted in Singapore

I enthusiastically commend this report to anyone involved or interested in construction adjudication. I suspect that its publication will come to be seen as a seminal moment in the story of this unique dispute resolution process.

Lord Justice Coulson, in his Foreword to the report.

The report is the first output of a three-year CCLDR research project, produced with the support of The Adjudication Society.

The Report will be launched at The Adjudication Society’s Annual Conference in Edinburgh on 3 November 2022 and at the Centre of Construction Law & Dispute Resolution 35th Anniversary Conference at King’s College London on 17 November 2022.

In this story

Renato Nazzini

Director of the Centre of Construction Law and Dispute Resolution

Aleksander  Kalisz

Research Associate