REUTERS | Navesh Chitrakar

How to stay on the right side of the adjudicator

We adjudicators are only human, although sometimes the parties act in a manner that suggests they have forgotten. I would advise the parties to avoid a number of practices or behaviours during an adjudication:

  • Don’t try to bully or threaten me, or dictate terms. Don’t patronise me either.
  • There is nothing to be gained from being rude to either me or your opponent.
  • Avoid taking spurious jurisdictional points instead of being up front and asking for more time if it is genuinely needed. Also avoid making ill thought out jurisdictional challenges just for the sake of it, or not taking jurisdictional points at the earliest opportunity.
  • Don’t serve poorly presented submissions, including:
    • Response submissions full of “kitchen sink” evidence and witness statements that do not address the substantive issues in the referral.
    • Submissions with incorrect references to documents.
    • Unpaginated bundles, or bundles where the documents are not ordered sensibly and have no index or dividers.
    • Damaged or overly full ring binders (especially if they are four hole binders) that result in papers ending up on the floor when you open them.
  • Don’t serve submissions late without the courtesy of advance warning or notice. There really is no justification for ignoring directions.
  • Don’t involve me in petty procedural squabbles or spats between the parties. These just divert my attention away from the substantive issues.
  • Don’t make me deal with without prejudice or privileged material that has been included in the bundles when it shouldn’t have been.
  • During meetings, it’s infuriating if the parties go “off piste” and don’t follow my agenda which has been set to help me understand your dispute.
  • Don’t contact me by phone unless you have to – contact with me should be kept to an absolute minimum and I should not receive persistent phone calls from either party.
  • Don’t ignore directions and don’t leave it to me to ensure that one party has copies of documents or letters from the other side.
  • Don’t be stubborn if you could adopt a pragmatic and/or more cost effective approach to small value items – it can be disproportionate for me to deal with small value items.

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