Smash & Grab Adjudications

Adjudication is a rapid 28 day dispute resolution process for resolving disputes arising under construction contracts. Under Part 2 of the Housing Grants, Construction & Regeneration Act 1996 (as amended) (HGCRA) parties to all construction contracts (a term defined in HGCRA) have the right to adjudicate, unless the contract is one involving works to a dwelling which one of the parties to the contract occupies, or intends to occupy, as his residence, in which case there is no right to adjudicate.

A “smash and grab” adjudication is one where a payee (the party to be paid) starts a claim against a payor (the paying party) alleging that the payor is in breach of its payment obligations to the payee. Like the right to adjudicate, those payment obligations also arise under HGCRA. Specifically the payee alleges that it has served a valid Payment Application, but the payor has not then served either a valid Payment Notice or Pay Less Notice in response by the deadlines for serving those notices. That being so and because the final date for payment has also now passed, the payee claims that it is entitled to be paid the sum contained in its Payment Application.

This is a strict liability sort of dispute, ie if the above circumstances do exist, there will be little or nothing that the payor can say in its defence. It will also be unable to cross-claim if it thinks that it has its own claim against the payee. A smash and grab dispute has nothing to do with whether the sum contained in the Payment Application is correct or not on a true valuation of the works that it refers to. It may in fact be that the Payment Application is hugely inflated and payment of it will cause the payor considerable problems. The payor will have to pay up and then try to recover any sum that it says it has had to overpay. It may try to do that eg by a correction on the next interim payment cycle (often the next month).

Smash and grab claims are common and can have severe consequences for a payor. Therefore close attention must be paid by the parties to all their payment obligations throughout the project.

Why Ridgemont?

Ridgemont’s team is made up of expert senior solicitors, all of whom previously worked in “Big Law” (i.e. the top 50 law firms in the UK).

We provide bespoke advice tailored to your needs.  Our advice is commercial and pragmatic, enabling you to use it effectively to make business decisions.

We have an expert understanding of construction law. We can guide you through the maze of smash & grab adjudications.

We are user-friendly.  Our lawyers speak in plain English, providing service levels akin to “Big Law”. We have built our processes to make onboarding as pain-free as possible. Our fee earner structure means that you have access to a partner-level solicitor at all times and they will always be on top of your matter.

We operate our business in an ethical way.  That means we think about what the “right thing to do” is when making a business decision.  As an example, we do not charge a default unit of time for incoming emails or letters as we think we ought to be paid for work done, not for merely receiving correspondence. We are also open and transparent on what we charge, meaning our clients never receive a surprising invoice.

We provide “Big Law” service levels and quality of advice, with expert senior solicitors providing commercial, pragmatic advice. Necessarily, that does not come cheap as we have to invest in great lawyers and everything they need to do their job. However, due to us having comparatively lower overheads to “Big Law” firms, we are able to charge less than they would for providing the same service levels and advice.

We are proactive in finding innovative ways to advise our clients in a cost proportionate way.

Who we act for?

We act for developers, contractors, sub-contractors, professionals and investors across a range of sectors from residential to retail.

Your journey with us
  1. Get in touch using the contact form below, calling us on 0203 909 9590 or emailing us at contactus@ridgemont.co
  2. We guarantee that we will be in touch with you the same day to listen to your needs and to explain how we can help and the likely cost.
  3. Assuming you wish to engage us, we will then onboard you as a client, which normally takes a matter of hours.
  4. From there, you will be assigned an experienced solicitor who will have conduct of your matter from cradle to grave and be available to speak to you and responsive to emails at every juncture.

You can learn more about our journey by watching these videos.

24 Greville Street, London, EC1N 8SS

KEY CONTACT: Tim Seal

Head of Construction

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