Can residential homeowners go to adjudication?

The HGCRA provides the right for parties to a construction contract to go to adjudication to resolve a dispute. However as with most acts there are exemptions to this. One such is that the right to adjudicate does not extend to residential homeowners.

There are real benefits to adjudication as opposed to other dispute resolution processes, such as Litigation and Arbitration, not least the speed of the decision and the relatively low cost. It is possible to write in the provision to go to adjudication within your contract.

In fact one particular standard form of contract, the JCT Homeowners Contract, includes an adjudication provision. There are also certain aspects of the JCT Homeowners Contract that will be appealing to residential homeowners. In particular that the provisions will not attract the potential large fees and issues that arise under larger commercial schemes.

The standard document provides that the parties to the contract may refer to adjudication on a matter arising under the contract for a period of 6 years. Such an application must be made to an appointing body as determined with a fixed fee of £117.50, inclusive of VAT.

Within 48 hours of receiving the application, the appointing body will acknowledge receipt and thereafter appoint the adjudicator. The costs of adjudication are closely controlled by the contract which limits the maximum hourly rate for the Adjudicator to £100 per hour and the maximum amount of hours that an adjudicator can charge for is 10 hours regardless of whether he decides to spend more time.

The adjudicator will return his decision within 21 days and is not compelled to give reasons for the decision. The contract requires the parties comply with this decisions unless a court judgment determines otherwise.