Global Switch Estates 1 Ltd v Sudlows Ltd

Global Switch Estates 1 Ltd v Sudlows Ltd [2020] EWHC 3314 – Adjudicators’ decisions can be rendered unenforceable where material breaches of the rules of natural justice have occurred.

Facts

The dispute arose out of a project to fit out and upgrade Global’s specialist data centre. Sudlows was engaged by Global to carry out the works pursuant to a JCT Design and Build 2011 form of contract. 

The works comprised the main works to fit out the hall, which had previously been stripped out under an enabling works package, and the installation of five chillers, with connections for additional eight chillers.

Following 3 prior adjudications, Global asked the adjudicator to value parts of interim application 27 but also set out a list of “excluded matters” that did not form part of the dispute being referred to in the dispute. In its response, Sudlow challenged Global’s attempt to confine the scope of the dispute, arguing that it could raise any defence open to it. However, when the adjudicator’s decision was issued, he had accepted Global’s position and decided he did not have jurisdiction to deal with Sudlow’s extensions of time and loss and expense claims. The adjudicator awarded Global the sum of £5,019,120.86 and directed Sudlows to pay the adjudicator’s fees and expenses in the sum of £81,588. Sudlows failed to pay those sums.

On 31 July 2020 Global issued proceedings, claiming the sum of £6,063,739.03 plus interest and costs.

Decision
The judge agreed with Sudlows that Global misled the adjudicator and that the adjudicator was wrong by restricting his jurisdiction. He stated, it was a “plain and obvious” breach of natural justice and rendered his decision unenforceable. 

This decision demonstrates that even though it remains difficult to succeed in avoiding the enforcement of an adjudicator’s decision, there are grounds in which the court may refuse these applications. 

Link to full case: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/TCC/2020/3314.html