A recent High Court decision provides a helpful reminder that the Construction Contracts Act must be followed when appointing an adjudicator. In New Zealand Fire Sprinkler Protection Limited v AFS Total Fire Protection Limited  NZHC 690, the defendants (AFS) had unilaterally appointed an adjudicator following apparent settlement of a dispute involving payment for services.
The High Court overturned the adjudicator’s decision on a number of grounds, including:
- there was no dispute requiring adjudication (as the parties had settled the dispute prior to AFS appointing an adjudicator)
- AFS had not complied with the Act in appointing the adjudicator
- the adjudicator had not disclosed a conflict of interest.
It therefore pays to remember that an adjudicator may only be selected in the following ways:
- by agreement between the parties
- by a nominating body chosen by agreement between the parties
- by an authorised nominating authority (such as Adjudicators Association of New Zealand, RICS, AMINZ or the Building Disputes Tribunal) chosen by the claimant.