Bob Davis

An interview in our series, 'Spotlighting Adjudicators'

Bob Davis

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

I was (and indeed still practice as) a Chartered Quantity Surveyor and Chartered Arbitrator operating in engineering and construction in the UK and internationally. My role primarily being to assist with the avoidance and/or resolution of disputes. 

I was one of the original group who got the Adjudication Society up and running and was its second Chair following the excellent stewardship of Guy Cottam.

How do you feel adjudication has changed over your career?

It has become more legalistic and we now deal with more complex issues. The scale and size of disputes have increased and the participants are more sophisticated. Submissions and communications are greatly improved albeit the resultant cost of the process has increased.

Yet as an industry we are still addressing the same issues and problems that were cited as the need for such a high speed process. Adjudication is most likely the first port of call for dispute resolution in the Construction Industry a point quoted by Coulson LJ in his judgement in John Doyle Construction Ltd (In Liquidation) v Erith Contractors Ltd [2021] EWCA Civ 1452,[2021] Bus LR 1837, [2021] WLR(D) 516 and reproduced in the 2022 Construction Adjudication in the UK report tracing trends wherein he noted 

I rather cavil at the suggestion that construction adjudication is somehow ‘just a part of ADR’. In my view, that damns it with faint praise. In reality, it is the only system of compulsory dispute resolution of which I am aware which requires a decision by a specialist professional within 28 days, backed up by a specialist court enforcement scheme which (subject to jurisdiction and natural justice issues only) provides a judgment within weeks thereafter. It is not an alternative to anything; for most construction disputes, it is the only game in town. 

What advice would you give to ‘new’ adjudicators?

Whatever your professional discipline, get experience in industry. Seek out mentoring in the same way that Arbitrators did pupillage, understand the process of case management, understand how to make decisions, understand how to formulate and draft decisions clearly and concisely. Finally accept that you never stop learning.