Coleraine Skip Hire Ltd V Ecomesh Ltd
Northern Ireland, High Court, Queen’s Bench Division
27th October 2008
The adjudicator Issued his findings in what the defendant’s managing director described as "draft form", stated that nothing was due from the plaintiff to the defendant, concluded after submissions by the parties that he had made errors in his computations, addressed these errors under the “slip rule” and awarded the defendant a specified sum. The adjudicator’s explanation was that these slips occurred because he was working from the spreadsheet in which the items were arranged in order of the value in dispute and not in numerical order.
The plaintiff contended that the adjudicator’s revision of his decision as originally issued was a matter of substance which could not be corrected under the slip rule because he clearly intended a certain outcome to the adjudication, namely that no sum should be awarded to the defendant. In the event the adjudicator purported to make a substantive change to that decision by requiring payment of a specified sum to the defendant.
Weatherup J rejected these contentions. The adjudicator’s mistake was a genuine slip which failed to give effect to his first thoughts because he misread the spreadsheets he was working from and intended to apply the correct figures to the correct items. However, he obtained the wrong total because he picked out the wrong figures from the spreadsheet with the result that the balance was not as it should have been. As to the contention that his first thoughts and intentions were to find for the plaintiff and not to find for the defendant (i) His first thoughts and intentions were to apply the correct figures from the spreadsheets (ii) Whilst a consequence of his failure to do so was to find for the plaintiff, that was not his first intention or thought and was a consequence of a mistaken approach to his first thoughts and intentions and (iii) The correct consequence of his first thoughts and intentions would have been to find for the defendant had he applied the correct figures which he meant to do.