REUTERS | Fabrizio Bensch

A day in the life of…

This week sees the start of the Christmas/new year 2-week shut down on construction sites up and down the country. I suspect lots of construction professionals are not so lucky as those employed on-site.

Everyone is familiar with the ambush scenario in adjudication, especially at holiday time. The courts may be critical (see Coulson J’s comments in Dorchester Hotel v Vivid Interiors), but “at any time” really does mean what it says. I wonder how many notices of adjudication are being prepared as you read this??

As an adjudicator, I’m open for business 24/7, 52 weeks of the year or, at least, that is the theory. For me, adjudicating is a way of life. In the past I think I let adjudicating play too big a part in my life. I got a hit from its fast track nature and a buzz from the Red Bull fuelled nights.

I loved it… but have you ever heard anyone reflect on their life and say: “You know what, I wish I had spent more time at the office?” No? Me neither. Something had to give. I needed to find something that would stop me from working the hours I was; something that would enable me to see my kids grow up. I re-discovered exercise (and yes, that is me swimming in the top right-hand corner).

Anyway, I thought I’d share with you a day in the life of an adjudicator in 2006 with a day in the life of an adjudicator in 2009, a sort of Lennon/McCartney: “Woke up, fell out of bed, Dragged a comb across my head” account (and for those of you who are young enough to have attended the junior SCL lecture that I gave last month, you can look away now, since you’ve heard all this before!).

Compare and contrast 2006…

00:00. Still in the office, drafting reasons. Preambles and the section on jurisdiction already gone for proofing. Have my first diet coke of the day. Text my wife and say I’m not coming home.

05:30. Finish drafting reasons, go out for some fresh air.

06:00. Grab some bacon and egg rolls; have my third diet coke of the day. Freshen up; send reasons for proofing and say I’m ready to start doing corrections. Start to deal with procedural issues arising from my other adjudications.

08:00. First batch of proofing arrives, start doing grammatical corrections. Decide to leave arithmetical cross checks and compound interest calculations until later. Fourth diet coke of the day.

12:00. Half way through grammatical corrections. Get some fresh air and lunch.

13:00. Get a call from a nominating body: am I available? Check conflicts: none. Accept appointment. Continue with grammatical corrections.

14:00. Papers arrive from the nominating body. Review papers, draft and send acceptance letter to nominating body. Note that the Adjudication Notice is dated last Friday, therefore the Referral Notice must be served today. Draft appointment letters to parties and adjudication agreement pending nomination letter from parties.

15:00. Continue with grammatical corrections. Receive nomination letter. Confirm appointment to parties and ask for the Referral to be served today. Send email to parties and say decision will be issued electronically after close of business but before midnight.

16:00. Receive Referral Notice on new adjudication.

16:30. Receive jurisdictional challenge on new adjudication.

17:00. Receive Response on another adjudication. Have sixth diet coke of the day.

17:30. Receive Reply in another adjudication. Order pizza.

18:00. Finish grammatical corrections and deal with correspondence, acknowledge submissions, issue directions. Eat pizza.

19:00. Start arithmetical check. Open first Red Bull of the day.

20:00. Finish arithmetical check. Get fresh air, call wife and say I’ll be late.

21:00. Finish compound interest calculations and draft letter to the parties enclosing decision.

21:30. Complete time sheet and work out fees for invoices.

22:00. Email decision to parties and then call home to say I’m done and that I’ll be home after clearing up… which takes an hour and a half.

23:15. Leave office and try and get a cab, say hello to the Hoxton party crowd who are out having fun.

24:00. Arrive home, tired.

… with 2009

00:00. In bed, asleep.

05:30. Wake up, get swimming kit together and drive to pool.

06:00. Swim.

07:30. Finish swim, shower and go home.

08:00. Breakfast.

08:30. Take kids to school and youngest to pre-school.

09:00. Drop kids at school and read emails on blackberry.

09:40. Catch train and read BAILLI.

10:10. Get to office, deal with correspondence, first coke (full fat) of the day.

10:30. Get on with completing reasons for decision.

12:00. Lunch. Deal with procedural correspondence and emails.

12:30. Carry on with completing reasons.

13:00. Email from one party in another adjudication saying they’ve settled.

13:30. Email from the other party saying they haven’t settled. Smile. Acknowledge and ask for clarification.

15:00. Complete reasons and send for proofing.

16:00. Draft letter to parties and complete time sheet for invoicing. Send email to parties and say decision will be sent electronically this evening.

17:00. Submissions arrive on another adjudication.

17:30. Leave office, deal with procedural correspondence and send emails on train journey home.

18:00. Get home, see kids, get changed and go out for a run.

19:00. Have dinner and start doing corrections on decision.

21:30. Finish corrections and send decision.

22:30. Bed.

The overriding message is that being an adjudicator can be a 24/7 job. If you want to work regular hours and like routine it probably won’t suit you. However, I like the flexibility that electronic communication gives. The non-compartmentalised way I lead my life lends itself to the stop/go deadline driven nature of adjudication, but those who like to draw a line between work, home, play and holiday may not be so well suited.

And to leave with another Lennon/McCartney-esque reference:

“I read the news today oh boy
About a lucky man who [had been enforced]
And though the news was rather sad
Well I just had to laugh.”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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