Patrick Waterhouse

An interview in our series, 'Spotlighting Adjudicators'

Patrick Waterhouse

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

I trained and qualified as a civil engineer working for contractors on projects in a variety of areas.  I recognise the value of my time managing construction sites earlier in my career, many of those experiences now inform my work as an adjudicator.  I moved into the world of PFI projects (and their international equivalents) in the 1990’s and I’ve experienced bidding, construction, operation and more recently expiry of PFI projects and now I deal with disputes.  I’ve worked with NEC contracts since their first publication in 1991 and now deliver training on NEC to a wide range of industry players.  Adjudication in both PFI and NEC contracts are more common than perhaps they should be as many adjudicators will know.  More latterly I have qualified as a chartered surveyor to supplement my initial engineering qualifications.

How in your view has adjudication changed over your career?

The initial introduction of adjudication to the UK was by NEC in the early 1990’s.  We are told that the original drafters saw the process as a quick one to facilitate cash flow for the supply chain.  I think that view, if correct, was probably naïve.  Over my time as an adjudicator the process has become more legal but, when dealing with contracts, that is perhaps to be expected.  Parties to NEC contracts cannot get their dispute into court or to arbitration until it’s been through adjudication, so that merits suitable resources and efforts.  The welcome approach of the courts to enforce decisions means that parties expect adjudication to be the only form of dispute resolution, so again they resource it accordingly.  I think that explains the more legal approach to the process.

What advice would you give to 'new' adjudicators?

I mentor prospective and new adjudicators.  I ask prospective ones to be sure that they can do the job and that doesn’t just refer to legal and procedural knowledge.  Can you work alone, sometimes with very limited support?  Have you the time management skills and self-discipline necessary to meet the deadlines?  It is encouraging to see the various mentoring schemes provided by bodies such as the Adjudication Society but budding adjudicators need to drive their own career development.  You should build a good network around yourself of other adjudicators and people who act as party representatives.  It’s often helpful to bounce ideas off other people.  It’s often a long game.  Many ANBs have long waiting lists, so get your name on the waiting list as soon as you comply with their requirements.  Make sure you understand what is required from each ANB.  They each require similar things, but the detail is different.   Listen to advice and feedback from those trying to help you, particularly where it may be critical.