Construction firm awarded £40k in three-in-one payment claim

A construction firm has won its claim for the payment of three outstanding invoices despite the customer arguing that the three payments could not be treated as one single case.

The issue arose after Creagh Concrete Products Ltd entered into an oral construction contract with Quadro Services Ltd.

During the contract period, Quadro made various applications for payment. Three cumulative applications, issued in July, August and October 2020, totalling £40,026, remained outstanding.

Creagh had not issued any pay-less notices but had simply failed to pay. Quadro issued a notice of intention to refer the dispute to adjudication.

The notice described the dispute as the non-payment of "agreed monies" due, listed the three payment applications, and sought the immediate payment of the outstanding total.

It being settled law that an adjudicator did not have jurisdiction to adjudicate more than one dispute in a single adjudication, Creagh challenged the adjudicator's jurisdiction on the basis that Quadro had referred three payment applications, and therefore three separate disputes, to him.

The adjudicator rejected that argument and awarded the sum claimed.

The High Court has upheld that decision.

It held that one dispute could include numerous issues that might be capable of being determined independently of each other.

The three applications were clearly linked: each was for the full value of the work done under the contract less the value of work already invoiced, and they were therefore cumulative.

Thus, the adjudicator was right to conclude that only one dispute had been referred to him, and Creagh had no real prospect of successfully defending the claim on the ground that he lacked jurisdiction.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of contract law.

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