Construction adjudicator fees – Are they unreasonable?

At a recent Chartered Institute of Arbitrators conference titled ‘The Construction Contracts Act 2013 – 7 years on,’ held on 5 July 2023 in Dublin, there was extensive discussion about adjudicators fees. In some comments from the audience, it was suggested that fees charged by adjudicators in construction disputes are now at such a high level that parties, particularly subcontractors, are now reluctant to consider using adjudication. If parties are in fact shying away from adjudication due to perceived excessive fees it would be an unfortunate undermining of statutory adjudication as an established and successful dispute resolution process.

It was further suggested that the likely full year reduction in adjudicator nomination applications to the Construction Contracts Adjudication Service (CCAS), down from 71 applications in 2021/2022 to circa 55 applications in 2022/2023, as reported at the conference by the Chair of the Ministers Panel of Adjudicators Bernard Gogarty at the conference, is the result of excessive adjudicator fees. It was said that adjudicators enjoy a privilege in the fees charged in resolving a dispute, which is without statutory limit or regulation. It has also been said that in the absence of any indication of fees at the start of the adjudication process, parties are entering into an open-ended commitment to fees.

Such was the strength of concern of the views expressed at the conference I felt that on reflection this was a matter that was worthy of deeper consideration. Accordingly, I prepared a short paper following an interrogation of available reported data on adjudications in Ireland, comparing this to available data in the UK. The paper was presented in short form as part as part of a seminar titled ‘Adjudication – the only game in town’ on 12 October 2023 at the Irish Architectural Archive in Merrion Square, Dublin. A full PDF copy of the paper can be found at the link below and a copy of the slide presentation can be found under the ‘Presentations’ tab on this web site.