Dear SCL(S) members,
We are approaching the end of 2017 and what a year it has been in the area of construction law, particularly in the area of statutory adjudications conducted under the umbrella of the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act (“SOP Act”).
There have already been more than 250 adjudication applications lodged with the Singapore Mediation Centre and there is still another 2 months to go before the year end.
The High Court has also handed down no fewer than 14 judgments in response to applications filed to set aside adjudication determinations.
From questions of when payment claims should be served to what constitutes a fair hearing in an adjudication, the court addressed many issues regarding the SOP Act and has brought much clarity to the regime.
Cases such as UES Holdings Pte Ltd v KH Foges Pte Ltd  SGHC 114 which clarified how the word ‘day’ in a construction contract should be construed can only be celebrated for helping claimants and respondents interpret their contracts with more clarity.
Another noteworthy case is that of Hua Rong Engineering Pte Ltd v Civil Tech Pte Ltd  SGHC 179 which clarified that a respondent cannot raise cross-claims, counterclaims and set-offs which arise from a contract different from the contract which the payment claim in question relates to.
The result has been that construction contracts, at least those used in domestic construction, are becoming clearer as to how payment claims and payment responses are to be treated. In particular, it is more common now for ad hoc construction contracts to make reference to the SOP Act and so, claimants and respondents have more certainty over the applicable timeline leading up to the filing of the adjudication application. It can be frustrating for a claimant to spend weeks preparing to lodge an adjudication application only to have it dismissed because of a mis-calculation of one day!
In the final analysis, it must be agreed that the judgments of the High Court and the Court of Appeal have helped contractors better understand their rights and obligations under the SOP Act.
However, it is likely that applications to set aside adjudication determinations will be still be filed in court. It seems that the number of technical objections one can make in an attempt to set aside an adjudication determination is only limited by one’s imagination! In any event, you can trust that the SCL(S) will continue in its role of educating its members on developments in this area of the law in future seminars.
In the meantime, we thank all members for their support of SCL(S) and look forward to seeing you at the next SCL(S) event.