A recent case illustrates how complex building disputes can become when there are changes ‘on the fly’ to the work being carried out and the related paperwork does not keep pace.
In the case in point, a contractor’s contract to fit out a hairdressing salon was taken over by a subcontractor. After the work was done and paid for, a dispute arose over the quality of some of the flooring work. This work had been carried out by a second subcontractor.
The company which took over the original contract did not consider that it was liable for the quality of the flooring work and went to adjudication to obtain a ruling as to the extent of its liability. The adjudicator ruled that the original contractor was liable. The original contractor then claimed it was not a party to the contract for the flooring so was not liable and went to court to have the adjudicator’s decision overturned. At the preliminary hearing, the court considered this argument to be weak and ordered the original contractor to pay half the sum awarded by the adjudicator pending hearing of its case.
Had the appropriate documentation been put in place at each stage as events moved forward, the dispute over who was responsible for what under the contract would not have reached the court.