NAP Anglia Ltd V Sun-Land Development Co Ltd
Technology and Construction Court
3 November 2011
The timetable set by the adjudicator was that (i) The developer was given 21 days to respond to the notice of referral (ii) The contractor was given 9 days to reply to the response (iii) The developer was given 7 days, to respond to this reply (iv) The contractor was given 3 days to serve its final submission (v) The parties extended the adjudicator's time for issuing his decision by 4 days. The developer contended that: (i) The natural tactical advantage that the statute conferred on a referring party was enhanced by the contractor being given more time and an extra submission and (ii) This amounted to an unfair distribution of the amount of time available for making submissions, which unfairly and unjustifiably favoured the contractor and therefore constituted a breach of the rules of natural justice.
Edwards-Stuart J held that the developer’s contention should be rejected. The adjudicator’s timetable could not be said to be unreasonable with the result that he could not be said to have acted in breach of the rules of natural justice. The adjudicator’s timetable could not be said to be unreasonable on its face. There was nothing unusual about giving the referring party the last word or having an odd number of submissions. The standard procedure in any hearing was for (i) The claimant to open his case (ii) The respondent to make his submissions in response and (iii) The claimant to have the last word by way of reply. It was only if fresh material was produced in the claimant's reply that the respondent was usually permitted to make any further submission. There was therefore nothing in the point that the contractor was permitted one more submission than the developer. Submissions should be shorter with each further exchange so that the time needed by a party to respond to the previous submission by the other party should be correspondingly less. The adjudicator's directions In this regard were quite unexceptional.