Beumer Group UK Ltd v Vinci Construction UK Ltd [2016] EWHC 2283 (TCC)

This case concerns whether in adjudication proceedings an adjudicator should disclose that they are acting as adjudicator in other matters involving one of the parties before them. The sub-contractor obtained an adjudication award in its favour. The works related to a baggage handling system in Gatwick Airport. There had been 4 adjudications relating to the system between different parties and the same adjudicator had acted in all 4 adjudications. The main contractor resisted enforcement of the decision on the basis it had been unaware of the parallel adjudications between the sub-contractor and the sub-sub-contractor, in which it was said that the sub-contractor had advanced a factually inconsistent position with that which it advanced in the adjudication it now sought to enforce. The main contractor alleged that there was a case of apparent bias in failing to disclose his involvement in the other dispute and a breach of natural justice. The Court found that the sub-contractor’s positions had been factually inconsistent – it alleged that the works had been completed at different times in different adjudications. The adjudicator should have disclosed that he was acting as adjudicator in another matter involving the sub-contractor, regardless of whether it was on the same project or not. There was an objective risk of bias if the involvement was not disclosed. There was also a breach of natural justice in keeping from the main contractor the factually inconsistent cases advanced by the sub-contractor. The application to enforce the adjudicator’s decision was therefore refused.