The recent Supreme Court of Queensland case of Matrix
Projects (Qld) Pty Ltd v Luscombe has seen yet another
adjudicator's decision under the Building and Construction
Industry Payments Act 2004 (Qld) (BCIPA) successfully
Matrix Projects (Qld) Pty Ltd engaged Luscombe Builders to carry
out construction work to assist flood victims to rebuild homes
after the January 2011 floods in south-east Queensland.
The parties signed a document described as a 'Period
Subcontract' by which Luscombe Builders agreed 'to perform
and complete ... Works yet to be agreed' for a period of 12
months. Works under this document were performed by Luscombe after
Luscombe received and accepted a written purchase order request
Separately, Luscombe performed works for Matrix pursuant to
verbal agreements (which it referred to as 'do and charge'
work). There were no written purchase orders issued for 'do and
Luscombe served a payment claim under the BCIPA on Matrix
claiming amounts owing for works performed on 14 separate
properties pursuant to the 'Period Subcontract' and the
'do and charge' arrangement (and one further arrangement -
although the claim relating to that was later abandoned).
Matrix disputed the payment claim. The claim progressed to
adjudication with the adjudicator determining that Matrix owed
Luscombe over $400,000 for the works it had performed under the
Matrix then sought to challenge the adjudicator's decision
in the Supreme Court of Queensland on a number of grounds. One of
the grounds of challenge was that the payment claim could not
relate to a number of contracts or arrangements.
The Court decided that the adjudicator's decision was void
on several grounds, including because the payment claim covered
more than one contract or arrangement.
The fact that Luscombe relied on a number of contracts to
support the amounts claimed in the one payment claim was fatal to
the validity of the claim.
The Court declared the adjudicator's decision void and
Luscombe was restrained by the Court from seeking an adjudication
The construction industry frequently involves participants who
have more than one arrangement or relationship with each other -
whether that be on a particular construction project or more
The message from this case is that when preparing or seeking to
challenge payment claims under BCIPA you need to specifically
consider whether amounts being claimed relate to more than one
contract. If the claim includes amounts relating to more than one
contract, it will be open to challenge. In such cases, claimants
may wish to consider issuing separate claims for each specific
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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