Guy Cottam

The main concern for adjudication continues to be the Government’s consideration of amendments to the Construction Act and the Scheme.

The DTI held a post consultation seminar at the DTI Conference Centre on 14 February, 2006, at which the minister, Mr Alun Michael gave the opening address.

The minister said that from the responses received from the Industry three questions arose for discussing at the conference:

1. Is there a need for improvement in payment practices?

Our greatest disappointment is the lack of any progress in relation to amendments to the Act. The Society has always seen no reason why oral contracts should be excluded from the adjudication provisions. It is often the most vulnerable that enter into oral contracts. An adjudicator should be as capable as anyone else to be able to determine what the parties agreed. We hope progress will be made before the end of the year.

I am honoured to be taking over the Chairmanship of the Society and somewhat daunted by the act I have to follow. Peter Chapman created and largely funded the Society in its formative years and we now have over 950 members. We all wish Peter well in his Presidency of the Dispute Board Foundation.
Unfortunately, the Society can no longer continue on the basis of free membership and provide the diverse range of activities that our members both want and expect. It is currently costing around £15,000 a year to run the society, excluding the annual conference.
As you are all aware I am sure, Sir Michael Latham has been appointed to undertake a review of the workings of the Construction Act. The Society has submitted a paper to Sir Michael and this can be seen on the website. We have also posted a questionnaire on the website with the aim of trying to ascertain from which group – parties, lawyers and advisors or adjudicators - the pressure for particular changes is coming from.
Very recently Sir Michael Latham presented his first report to the Department of Trade and Industry. In a fairly lengthy letter he recapped on the purposes of the Act and the re-promoted his original proposal for Trust Funds, which he first proposed in Trust and Money in 1993. This is probably a dead recommendation because they are impractical.

The Society made its submission to the DTI following the Latham Review and this may be seen on the Society Website.

Adjudication is spreading around the world. The Society is in talks about setting up affiliates in Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Singapore and is in contact with a similar group in Australia. As it expands there is a need to ensure that the quality of adjudicators is maintained at a very high standard. The Society is undertaking a major study into the requirements for

Adjudication has been an outstanding success in so far as it has largely solved the problem that it was introduced for, which was to redress the balance between payer and payee by in troducing an objective independent certification of the sum due instead of an often subjective decision by either an employee or representative of the payer.

With autumn upon us the activities of the Society are again starting after the summer recess. It is encouraging to see so many diverse activities being carried out in the regions, some of which are currently small.