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Construction Industry Council pushes adjudication advice

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Will there be enough adjudicators to go round? As the construction sector enters a brave new world (on 1 May) created in the spirit of the Latham Report, the cic has produced a guide to the key change to affect the industry - adjudication. This is the crucial element in arrangements introduced under the Housing Grants, Construction & Regeneration Act (1996), intended to avoid costly and drawn-out litigation.

Under the new law, each party to a construction contract has the right to demand adjudication on disputed points. The adjudicator could in theory be anybody, but in practice is likely to come from one of an established series of nominating bodies, including the riba. It is likely that there will be more practitioners employed than lawyers, at least at this stage.

At the launch of its new guide this week, cic deputy chairman Robin Nicholson, of Edward Cullinan Architects, said the new scheme was workable, and that fears could be dealt with. For example in the 'ambush' - whereby one party could store up months of documents, demand an adjudication and a decision within 28 days, leaving the other side exposed - an adjudicator could ask for evidence to be summarised. Nicholson believes that the threat of adjudication being sought would help eliminate the unscrupulous withholding of payments, and there could be plenty of work for architects and engineers.

CIC chief executive Graham Watts said the main worry is the lack of adjudicators. cic has given preliminary approval to four groups who nominate adjudicators: riba, rics, ice and ciob. They have 131 of the 400 attached to the 16 bodies in the cic's guide.

The Guide to Construction Adjudication is available, price £50. Details: 0171 637 8692.

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