Coventry Scaffolding v Lancsville Construction [2009] EWHC 2995

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The Court gave guidance as to the steps that a party seeking to enforce an adjudicator’s decision should take with a view to saving costs and court time where a losing party to an adjudication does not participate in enforcement proceedings. 
Technology and Construction Court, Mr Justice Akenhead


Coventry Scaffolding Company (London) Ltd (“Coventry”) was employed as sub-contractor by Lancsville Construction Ltd (“Lancsville”) to provide scaffolding for works undertaken by Lancsville as main contractor.  There were disputes between the parties involving delays and entitlements to payment under interim applications.  There were two adjudications arising from the disputes, both decided by the same adjudicator.   Both decisions went against Lancsville.  Lancsville failed to honour both decisions and Coventry sought enforcement by way of application for summary judgment.  Standard directions were given by the Court for the hearing of the application, requiring Coventry, among other things, to serve evidence in support of its application and provide skeleton arguments.  Coventry complied fully with these directions but Lancsville lodged no Acknowledgment of Service and took no part in the proceedings.


What steps a claimant should take with a view to saving costs and court time once it becomes clear that the losing party to the adjudication is not willing or able to participate in enforcement proceedings.


The Court found:

  • Where there is an effective and enforceable adjudicator’s decision then, in the absence of proper challenge by the losing party to the adjudication, that decision is summarily enforceable by the Court.
  • When it becomes clear that it is likely that a defendant is not going to participate in proceedings to enforce an adjudicator’s decision by way of summary judgment, then a claimant should consider carefully the desirability of proceeding by way of obtaining a judgment in default.  The fact that the time for the lodging of the Acknowledgment of Service is abridged to five days (or such other period as the Court may order) does not mean that a claimant cannot obtain judgment in default of the filing of the Acknowledgment of Service, when that abridged time has elapsed.  Once it is clear that there has been service of the Claim Form and the other documents called for by the TCC’s order, there is no procedural reason why judgment in default should not be obtained.  The Court encouraged claimants and those advising them to apply administratively for judgment in default in these circumstances.
  • If an Acknowledgment of Service is lodged before any judgment in default is obtained then matters will have to proceed by way of application for summary judgment. 
  • Where, however, it becomes very clear that the defendant, although it may or may not have put in an Acknowledgement of Service, is unlikely to participate in any hearing, an application on notice to the defendant should be made to bring forward the hearing.  This will mean that less time may be needed, costs will be reduced, court time will be saved and the claimant will get its judgment quicker.

This summary was provided by CMS Cameron McKenna LLP.

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