Judge orders homeowner to pay builder in full for repair work

The High Court has ordered a homeowner to pay the full cost of repair work carried out on his property by a building company.

The court heard that the homeowner, Sylvein Pinto, had asked ICCT Ltd to stop leaks in his basement.

The work was not paid for so ICCT took the matter to arbitration and Mr Pinto provided the adjudicator with pictures of the leaking basement. He suspected that the adjudicator knew the owner of the company, but there was no evidence of that.

The adjudicator found that Mr Pinto had agreed to repairs at £400 a day plus the cost of materials, but that the basement had required a lot more work than he had realised, and he had terminated the contract early.

He convinced himself that he had been deceived but there was no evidence of that as a great deal of work had been required. The adjudicator found in favour of ICCT and made an award of £6,456 including VAT.

Mr Pinto appealed saying there had been no jurisdiction to refer the matter to adjudication as the works had been on a residential dwelling, the adjudicator had been biased and his decision had been wrong on the merits of the case.

The court found in favour of ICCT. It held that it was not possible to resist enforcement simply because the losing party disagreed with the decision or believed that the adjudicator had got it wrong.

Mr Pinto had maintained that he didn’t realise that adjudication applied mainly to commercial properties and that private homes were normally excluded, but ignorance of the law was no excuse.

He had fully engaged with the process and, accordingly, an ad hoc adjudication had come into being and any jurisdiction issues had been waived. As for the claim of bias, there was no evidence to suggest that ICCT had been lying about any past association with the adjudicator.

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