Question: I am a building contractor owed money for construction work. The person who employs me disputes my claim. I have been told it could take over a year to get to court. This is far too long for me. Is there any quicker way I could get paid?
Michael McCord, partner with Tughans Solicitors replies:
Answer: If the work was in respect of "construction operations" (as defined in the Construction Contracts (NI) Order 1989), and if the terms of the contract for the work are recorded in writing, you have the right to have an Adjudicator appointed to decide your dispute and the Adjudicator must reach his decision within 28 days (or 42 days by agreement). The process is fast and because of that it can be a little rough and ready. It is not meant to entail the sort of detailed analysis that would be undertaken by a Court or an Arbitrator. It is designed to speed up cash flow. Nonetheless, if you get a favourable decision from the Adjudicator, the paying party must comply with it in all but a few fairly limited circumstances. This does not mean the paying party cannot seek to have the decision reversed. The Adjudicator can have his decision reversed by a Court or an Arbitrator. However, until such times as it is reversed generally the paying party must comply with it.