26 September 2019

Serve your adjudication application ASAP, or rocky times ahead

This article was written by Scott Watson and Prudence Lupton.


A recent decision of the Queensland Court of Appeal, Niclin Constructions Pty Ltd v SHA Premier Constructions Pty Ltd & Anor [2019] QCA 177, emphasises the importance of complying with the legislative requirement to serve any adjudication application on the respondent ‘as soon as possible’ after lodgement with the Adjudication Registry. 

In upholding both the decision of the adjudicator and the primary judge, the Queensland Court of Appeal determined that service of the complete copy of an adjudication application 12 business days after lodgement with the Adjudication Registry was not ‘as soon as possible’.  Further, the Court held that failure by a claimant to comply with legislative form and time requirements regarding the service of adjudication applications will prevent an adjudicator from having jurisdiction to decide such applications.

The decision

Niclin Constructions Pty Ltd v SHA Premier Constructions Pty Ltd & Anor [2019] QCA 177 concerned an appeal against the findings of the primary judge, Ryan J, that:

a)  in the circumstances where section 21(5) the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act 2004 (Qld) (“BCIPA”)[1] does not provide a specific timeframe for service of an adjudication application on the respondent, it is appropriate to rely upon the Acts Interpretation Act 1954 (Qld) such that service must be ‘as soon as possible’ after the adjudication application was made;

b)  while there is some flexibility in the requirement of ‘as soon as possible’, in the context of the BCIPA which imposes “brutally fast timeframes”, service of the complete copy of an adjudication application 12 business days after lodgement of that application with the Registry is not as soon as possible; and

c)   service of the adjudication application, as required under section 21(5) of the BCIPA, is a precondition before an adjudicator has jurisdiction to decide the application.

Applegarth J, with Gotterson JA and Philippides JA agreeing, upheld the decision of the primary judge.  His Honour found that, given the relevant legislation “provides for the expeditious resolution of disputes over payments”, the primary judge correctly concluded that a requirement to serve the adjudication application on the respondent ‘as soon as possible’ was applicable.

Applegarth J stated that while a “requirement to serve an adjudication application ‘as soon as possible’ imposes a demanding timeframe”, it also “permits regard to be had to the exigencies of service in a particular case.”  His Honour concluded that as a matter of fact, by serving a complete copy of the adjudication applications on the respondent 12 business days after lodgement, Niclin Constructions Pty Ltd did not comply with this timing requirement.  Therefore, in the absence of effective service, the adjudicator did not have jurisdiction to determine the adjudication applications.

Key takeaway

Claimants must ensure that any adjudication application is served on the respondent as soon as possible following lodgement with the Adjudication Registry.  Failure to comply could result in an adjudicator determining there has not been effective service and therefore, that the adjudicator is not seized of jurisdiction to decide the relevant adjudication application.

[1] An equivalent provision is now found in section 79 of the Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) Act 2017 (Qld).

Key contacts

A Guide to Investing in Australian Real Estate

Investing Down Under offers a quick overview of the legal, taxation, FIRB and structuring issues you may encounter when investing in Australian real estate.

Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
    You might also be interested in

    The Victorian Government has now imposed an industry-wide shutdown of the sector.

    22 September 2021

    On 16 September 2021, the Victorian Government announced a number of changes to the COVID-related restrictions that apply to individuals and businesses in the state.

    20 September 2021

    The High Court’s recent decision in Price v Spoor [2021] HCA 20 has confirmed that parties can effectively contract out of limitation periods imposed by statute. The decision provides certainty as to...

    08 September 2021

    As foreshadowed in our previous update on building reforms in NSW, various reforms under the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (NSW) (the Act) came into effect on 1 July 2021.

    26 July 2021

    This site uses cookies to enhance your experience and to help us improve the site. Please see our Privacy Policy for further information. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive these cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.

    For more information on which cookies we use then please refer to our Cookie Policy.