Banbridge firm awarded compensation

A LOCAL company has been awarded over £3 million by the High Court following a dispute with Fermanagh District Council.

Gibson (Banbridge) Ltd went to court after an apparent failure by Fermanagh District Council to pay an outstanding invoice of over £2 million.

An Adjudicator found in favour of the local contractor and ordered the council to pay out some £3,034,149.85, which included the initial debt of £2,126,390.29, as well as substantial amounts of VAT, interest and legal fees.

Following the initial Adjudication, the decision was disputed by Fermanagh District Council, who took the matter to the Commercial Division of the Queens Bench in the High Court.

During the hearing, the QC for Fermanagh District Council questioned the Adjudicator’s ruling, stating that they would resist the judgement on two grounds.

The first ground was that the Adjudicator did not have jurisdiction as a “dispute” had not crystallised at the date the Notice of Adjudication was issued by the plaintiff.

The second ground was that the procedures adopted by the Adjudicator were in breach of the rules of natural justice in that an unfair procedure was adopted by the Adjudicator who did not afford the defendant a reasonable opportunity to respond to the plaintiff’s reference.

However, these grounds and the plaintiffs’ arguments were rejected by the Judge, Mr Weatherup, who stated: “It is not for the Court to decide what procedures should be adopted.

“The issue is whether or not the procedures that were adopted were materially unfair.

“In the circumstances I am satisfied that that was not the case. The defendant was afforded reasonable time to make the response given the opportunity that existed before the Notice of Adjudication for the defendant to address the application for payment.

“Accordingly I reject both of the defendant’s grounds for resisting the application for summary judgment.”

He concluded by reiterating the ruling by the Adjudicator and confirming that Gibson (Banbridge) Ltd should be awarded over £3 million in accordance with the Adjudicator’s initial ruling.