UK: Limitation And Adjudication

Last Updated: 30 May 2013
Article by Dr. Stacy Sinclair

In the case of Aspect Contracts (Asbestos) Ltd v Higgins Construction Plc, [2013] EWHC 1322 (TCC), Mr Justice Akenhead, had to consider when, bearing in mind limitation issues, a party which is dissatisfied with the substance of an adjudicator's decision needs to issue proceedings and seek to challenge and overturn that decision.

The Facts:

In March 2004 Higgins Construction Plc ("Higgins") was considering whether to contract with Notting Hill Housing Trust for the demolition and redevelopment of the Ivybridge Estate in Hounslow. In doing so, Higgins engaged Aspect Contracts (Asbestos) Ltd ("Aspect") to carry out an asbestos survey and provide a report. Aspect completed their report and Higgins paid the invoice rendered.

In October 2004 Higgins entered into a design and build contract with the Notting Hill Housing Trust. In February 2005 additional asbestos containing materials ("ACMs") were discovered which had not been identified in Aspect's report. Ultimately Higgins engaged a specialist to remove the further ACMs and alleged that 17 weeks of critical delay was attributable to this.

Higgins commenced adjudication some four years later in June 2009. The Adjudicator found that Aspect was liable for Ł658,017 – approximately 80% of Higgins' claim. Two and a half years later in February 2012 Aspect commenced proceedings seeking a declaration that they were not liable to pay damages and/or interest to Higgins in the amount decided by the Adjudicator (or at all). They sought "a final and binding resolution of a dispute which was referred to adjudication".

Presumably in an attempt to get round limitation difficulties, Aspect alleged that there was an implied term in the contract that an unsuccessful party in adjudication is entitled to have the dispute determined by litigation and if successful to recover any monies paid out following that adjudication. Aspect also pleaded in the alternative that it had paid Higgins the sum under compulsion of law and therefore was entitled to restitution of the sum paid.

Higgins said that the claim was statute barred because the alleged cause of action in contract accrued at the latest in April 2004 when Aspect delivered its asbestos report to Higgins, or in tort in June 2005 when the additional ACMs had been removed and Higgins continued with their work on site.

The Issue:

In the context of a dispute which has been referred to adjudication pursuant to the Scheme for Construction Contracts, and one party has paid money to the other in compliance with the adjudicator's decision, does the paying party's cause or right of action to recover the money paid out run from the date of payment (and therefore the six year limitation period runs from that moment)? Or does the cause or right of action run from whenever it otherwise did before the adjudicator's decision was issued?

In other words, did the adjudication process give Aspect a new cause of action against Higgins to recover the money which it had paid out on the temporarily binding decision of the adjudicator, or did their cause of action still run from the alleged breach of contract?

The Decision:

Mr Justice Akenhead considered authorities in respect of implied terms, interpretation of statutes, restitution and actions for negative declarations. In particular he focused on the case of Jim Ennis Construction Ltd v Premier Asphalt Ltd (2009) in which Judge Davies found that there was an implied term of the underlying contract which meant that an unsuccessful party to the adjudication was entitled to be repaid all sums paid by it in compliance with the adjudication decision – and that a new cause of action arose at the date of payment.

Mr Justice Akenhead found that the facts of the Jim Ennis Construction case were slightly different to the case at hand. He did agree with Judge Davies in that "the obligation to comply with the adjudicator's decision does indeed give rise to a new cause of action in favour of the successful party to compel the losing party to comply with that decision". However, he disagreed with Judge Davies that Paragraph 23(2) of the Scheme for Construction Contracts in some way provides a "platform" for the implication of a term.

Ultimately Mr Justice Akenhead held that there was nothing in the Parliamentary debates to suggest that Parliament intended to create in every construction contract incorporating the Scheme an implied term along the lines suggested. The fact that there had been an adjudication did not mean that the limitation clock started to run afresh. He held that there was no implied term in the contract that the paying party (Aspect) remained entitled to have the dispute finally determined by legal proceedings. He found that Aspect's claim was therefore barred by limitation. Accordingly, the claim was dismissed.


As Mr Justice Akenhead pointed out, this case raises an interesting and important issue as to when a dissatisfied party to an adjudicator's decision must issue its proceedings should they seek to overturn that decision.

A dissatisfied party must be alert to the issues of limitation as payment in compliance with the adjudicator's decision will not stop time running. Accordingly, a party who requires a negative declaration from the Court that it is not in breach of contract, and faces issues of limitation, must not wait until an adjudicator issues his decision and certainly parties must be proactive in recovering any damages sought and not wait years after the event.

This article is one of a series contributed by Fenwick Elliott to the Building website. To see further articles in this series please go to .

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Dr. Stacy Sinclair
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.