Lawrence Davies

An interview in our series, 'Spotlighting Adjudicators'

Lawrence Davies

What were you, professionally, before you started work as an Adjudicator?

I am a Solicitor and have specialised in construction law – contract drafting, live project support and dispute resolution – since I qualified in 1984.  I became an Adjudicator as soon as the Construction Act came into force in 1998 and have been an accredited member of the TeCSA Adjudicator Panel since that time.  Recently, I have joined the CIArb and UK Adjudicators’ panels.

How in your view has adjudication changed over the course of your career?

The biggest change in adjudication has been the rise of the “smash and grab” claim.  For the past 10 years, these claims have accounted for a very large proportion of the disputes referred to adjudicators.  They are a direct consequence of the amendments to the Construction Act introduced in 2011.  The subsequent Court cases, such as ISG v Seevic in which I acted for ISG, were inevitable given those amendments and the poor drafting of them.

There have also been changes in the way that adjudicators conduct adjudication as a consequence of various Court judgments.  In the early years after 1998 it was quite common for adjudicators to hold in person meetings with the parties.  However, such meetings can be a minefield for adjudicators and several were criticised by Judges in early Court cases on adjudication enforcement.  Meetings are now much less common, although carefully managed virtual meetings to discuss procedure or to clarify issues can be helpful.

Adjudicators are also much more circumspect about engaging outside advisers and/or delegating tasks to colleagues.  Again, this follows criticism from the Courts.

What advice would you give to ‘new’ and ‘younger’ adjudicators?

Adjudicators must demonstrate an excellent knowledge of construction law, plus the ability to identify and analyse the key legal and factual issues arising in a case.  The construction law knowledge must be kept up to date by regular reading and attendance on update seminars such as the excellent ones organised by the Adjudication Society.  Adjudicators from the legal profession will have spent their careers developing case analysis skills but the same is not true for adjudicators from other disciplines.  I would encourage those especially to seek mentoring/pupillage with experienced legally qualified adjudicators.

Then there is the challenge of securing a place on suitable ANB panels.  The need to open the panels up to encourage greater diversity and the entry of new talent is now recognised and the future seems more promising now for new/younger adjudicators.  They should ensure they are on the waiting list for relevant panels and seek updates on a regular basis.