Although in common English usage the term refers to the process by which a judge or arbitrator weighs facts, evidence and law to reach a decision on parties’ rights and claims, the term can also refer to a form of alternative dispute resolution especially prevalent in the UK for major projects, especially construction projects, although it also applies to parts of the telecommunications industry. The system, which is provided for in various statutes, means that an adjudicator can hear a dispute on a fast track basis, i.e., a decision is usually rendered within 28 days (but up to 45 with the agreement of the parties.)

The key aspect of adjudication is that parties must normally act or comply with the adjudicator’s decision immediately it is rendered – even if they disagree.  The decision is typically not-final in that the parties still have the right to go to court or arbitration and there is a right of appeal, but it does not stay the adjudicator’s order. In short, you can go to litigation, but while it is pending you have to do what the adjudicator says.  Thus the objective of adjudication is keep projects moving forwards, even in the face of a legal dispute. Adjudicators are either nominated by the contract, or selected by a referring body (and association) nominated in the contract.

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