An appeal in judicial review’s clothing?

The power of the Court to judicially review adjudication determinations under the Construction Contracts Act has been an area of confusion for some time. Some claim that the Court is only able to review errors of jurisdiction; others consider that the Court has the right of review for error of law, fact, or procedure. What is clear is that judicial review (review of a decision-making process) is not the same as a general appeal (assessment of whether a decision is correct on its merits).

However, one could be forgiven for confusing the two, given the recent decision of the High Court in Manchester Industrial Holdings Limited v Hazelton [2016] NZHC 211. This decision sees the Court rehashing the exact questions referred to adjudicator Andrew Hazelton and coming to (thankfully) the same decisions. Only one ‘error of law’ was spotted – Mr Hazelton appeared to have excluded the content of an email by ruling that a payment schedule should be comprised in a single document. The Court disagreed, but decided that the communications from the principal of the contract were still insufficient to constitute a payment schedule. The fact that the Court’s role was not to determine, based on the facts of the matter, whether or not a payment schedule was valid was apparently overlooked.

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