THE IMPACT OF ADJUDICATION ON LEGAL PRACTICE
The advent of Adjudication means that lawyers are more likely to be involved at an earlier stage than might otherwise have been the case. Adjudication has cut down the number of construction disputes that result in major litigation so it might appear that the lawyers have lost out by its introduction. However, many disputes that would have been settled between the parties without the involvement of lawyers are now more likely to involve the services of a lawyer preparing for and taking part in the adjudication process. The benefits are likely to outweigh the disadvantages and increase the involvement of lawyers in construction contract administration.
Adjudication processes have the potential of providing an attractive, speedy, inexpensive alternative to the Small Claims Court. This could open up avenues for the creation of an entire field of small claims work which whilst not massively remunerative could be consistent and not excessively demanding and ideally suited for junior staff members. The good will that a simple effective process can generate between lawyer and client means that this is an area of practice well worth investing time and effort in.
Few lawyers are likely to become construction adjudicators since the adjudicator needs to have expertise in construction practice. However, there is no reason why solicitors, barristers and judges should not seek to become qualified general adjudicators. Remuneration is likely to reflect the amount at stake. Small claims adjudication will have little attraction for major fee earners but earnings for mid range disputes should be commensurate with the standard hourly rate charged in practice. In this respect the paper only adjudication, which does not involve any displacement in order to participate, can easily be slotted into the working schedule of most practitioners. On-line adjudication will further facilitate participation in adjudication.