VGC Construction Ltd v Jackson Civil Engineering Ltd [2008] EWHC 2082 (TCC)

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Provided it is sufficiently clear when it is disputed, it may not be necessary to provide a full explanation of a sum claimed in an application for payment. Subsequent details of the claim can be introduced during the course of an adjudication in response to a criticism that the claim is unparticularised without creating a new dispute. Clear words and dealings must be adopted if a right to challenge jurisdiction is to be reserved.

Mr Justice Akenhead – Queen’s Bench Division, Technology and Construction Court


Jackson Civil Engineering Limited (“Jackson”) employed VGC Construction Limited (“VGC”) to carry out construction work on the M3 motorway. Completion of the work was delayed.

VGC issued an application for payment, which included 150 sub-claims. One of these was described simply as “13.150 Delay and disruption … £300,000.00”. In its payment certificate, Jackson rejected the delay and disruption claim in its entirety. A further application and payment certificate were issued, with both parties maintaining their positions.

VGC served a Notice of Adjudication on Jackson, setting out the nature of the dispute. The subsequent Referral did not go so far as to explain the basis for the delay and disruption claim but talked broadly about delays.

In Jackson’s Response, it stated that VGC had not submitted enough information to back up their delay and disruption claim. VGC’s Reply disputed this, arguing that Jackson had been in receipt of all the information necessary. The Reply also included – for the first time – a calculation of the delay and disruption claim based on the Hudson formula. Jackson argued that the calculation amounted to a new claim and was therefore inadmissible. It sought to reserve its position on this matter.

In his decision (which did not include a breakdown), the Adjudicator awarded VGC some £745,000.

Jackson opposed enforcement by VGC of the adjudicator’s decision on the basis that the delay and disruption claim was so nebulous and ill defined that there could be no “dispute” on which to adjudicate. It also said that the delay and disruption claim was a new claim that arose during adjudication and therefore the adjudicator had no jurisdiction.


It was held that “a one line claim may be briefly described but may, given the surrounding circumstances not be so nebulous or ill-defined.”  Although the delay and disruption claim was not fully explained in VGC’s applications, the court recognised that in construction projects it is common for applications and certificates to contain summary descriptions of items and found that on the basis of the other information contained within the application, Jackson ought to have realised the nature of the unparticularised claim.

In light of this, the court decided that the delay and disruption claim was sufficiently well defined that a dispute had arisen by the time of Jackson’s second certificate refuting the claim.
The court disagreed with Jackson that the introduction of the Hudson formula calculations in the Reply amounted to a new claim, stating that it was merely a response to Jackson’s assertion that VGC had nothing to support the delay and disruption claim.

The court held that as Jackson had not challenged the jurisdiction of the adjudicator at the time he was appointed and had argued during the adjudication that the delay and disruption claim should be dismissed for lack of supporting information, it was not then open to them to raise a jurisdiction objection at such a late stage. Accordingly, the court enforced the adjudicator’s decision.

This summary was provided by CMS Cameron McKenna LLP.

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