By Samer Skaik, Jeremy Coggins and Anthony Mills

In Australia, statutory construction adjudication has recently received a lot of criticism due to the increasing amount of determinations that have been quashed upon judicial review, and anecdotal evidence from some quarters showing dissatisfaction with the quality of adjudication decisions. Such criticism is particularly aimed at adjudications of large and technically and legally complex payment disputes, where adjudicators are under pressure to consider substantial volumes of submissions in very tight timeframes.

More specifically, criticisms have been directed at, inter alia, adjudicator’s regulations, procedural fairness, jurisdictional powers and finality of decisions. This paper reviews the measures to improve the quality of adjudications of complex payment disputes then proposes a roadmap by selecting the Qld model as a benchmark but suggesting further improvements identified and explained via specific steps or pit stops. The pit stops include criteria for timeframes of complex claims, appointment, regulation and powers of adjudicators and a review system on the merits to control the quality of adjudication decisions replicating the Singapore model. The findings remain as blunt instruments and deemed as hypotheses to inform subsequent empirical research which the authors are currently undertaking to further investigate, strengthen and validate the findings of this study in order to propose a reliable and useful guide to any parliament seeking to optimise its statutory adjudication to effectively deal with complex payment disputes.

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