The Court’s Approach When Intervening in Adjudication

By Dr Samer Skaik

The intersection of adjudication and judicial intervention in construction disputes presents a complex legal landscape, often necessitating the use of injunctions to address specific issues. This post provides an in-depth exploration of the court’s approach when intervening in adjudication, drawing insights from recent legal cases and judicial interpretations.

Remittal of Invalid Adjudication Determinations

The recent case of Cardinal Project Services Pty Ltd v Hanave Pty Ltd highlighted the complexities associated with remittal when an adjudicator’s determination is found void. The NSW Court of Appeal deliberated that the relevant adjudication application should remain active but be remitted to the original adjudicator. The potential changes in circumstances, outdated payment schedules, and the legislative desire for speedy, cost-effective mechanisms under the SOP Act were underscored.

Severing Invalid Parts of Adjudication Determinations

Courts have delved into the challenges of severing invalid parts of adjudication determinations affected by jurisdictional errors. The case of Emergency Services Superannuation Board v Sundercombe demonstrated an attempt to give indirect effect to the invalid determination by requiring the respondent to pay the unaffected amount as a condition to set aside the adjudicator’s determination. The exercise of judicial discretion in ensuring procedural fairness reflects the multifaceted nature of judicial intervention in adjudication. The NSW Act was further updated in 2019 to provide the supreme Court with a clear power under section 32A to identify the part of the adjudicator’s determination affected by jurisdictional error and set aside that part only, while confirming the part of the determination that is not affected by jurisdictional error.


The use of injunctions in construction disputes has been a focal point of judicial consideration. An aggrieved respondent may apply for a court to grant an ex parte injunction to restrain a claimant from applying for the issues of adjudication certificate or from proceeding with the adjudication application at all. Recent cases such as Co-ordinated Construction Co Pty Ltd v J.M. Hargreaves Pty Ltd and Grindley Construction Pty Ltd v Painting Masters Pty Ltd have demonstrated the courts’ considerations when determining the balance of convenience in granting such injunctions. The practical implications of granting injunctions to address issues of natural justice and balance of convenience have been central to the courts’ deliberations.

In Australian Remediation Services Pty Ltd v Earth Tech Engineering Pty Ltd, McDougall J emphasized the importance of adjudicators as the primary organs for the resolution of disputes under the SOP Act. The reluctance to interfere in the statutory scheme and the recognition of matters within the competence of adjudicators have been consistent themes in recent judicial considerations [3].


The court’s intervention in adjudication is informed by a nuanced understanding of the complexities inherent in construction disputes. Recent legal cases and judicial interpretations have provided valuable insights into the court’s approach when addressing the validity of adjudicator’s determinations and the use of injunctions in construction disputes. Understanding these judicial interpretations is vital for all stakeholders involved in construction disputes, emphasizing the need for clarity and fairness in the adjudication process. The practical implications of granting injunctions and the recognition of adjudicators as primary organs for dispute resolution under the SOP Act underscore the multifaceted nature of judicial intervention in adjudication.

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