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Adjudication could end Bleak House nightmares

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I enjoyed Kim Franklin's very interesting article ('Adjudication is a quick-fix solution, not a legal substitute', aj 12-19.8.99). She suggested that adjudication under the Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration (hgcr) Act ought not to take place after the contract has finished running.

Her argument is that disputes after that time ought to be resolved by arbitration or litigation. While this point of view has much to commend it, the problem is that the act itself gives parties the right to give notice of adjudication 'at any time'. It could even be an advantage that the act is so wide.

Suppose that, long after the work has finished, you find yourself bogged down in some complex case to rival the mythical, never-ending case Jarndyce v Jarndyce. If you nip off to an adjudicator and get a quick decision, war-weary parties might choose to accept the adjudicator's view rather than contest the case to the end.

Andrew Bartlett qc, chartered arbitrator, London EC4

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