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WFW secures victory for Abbey Healthcare in key Court of Appeal ruling21 June 2022

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Watson Farley & Williams (“WFW”) has secured a victory for client Abbey Healthcare (Mill Hill) Limited (“Abbey Healthcare”) before the UK Court of Appeal. In an important decision, the Court of Appeal overturned a High Court judgment that had restricted the use of a quicker and cheaper means of resolving construction disputes.

The decision in Abbey Healthcare (Mill Hill) Limited v Simply Construct (UK) LLP has significant implications for the construction and real estate industries as it confirms the benefits of adjudication being widely available. This is also the first time that the Court of Appeal has considered the statutory meaning of a “construction contract” for adjudication purposes. Although the case concerned a collateral warranty, the principles could apply to other agreements such as third-party rights schedules and forward funding agreements.

Whilst the decision represents a significant extension of liability for contractors and consultants, it should be welcomed by tenants, landlords and funders as it creates a level playing field by ensuring that end-users with vested interests in a finished building are treated equally from a dispute resolution perspective to those involved with the original construction works and services.

The decision also confirms the availability of an alternative route to recovery for those who cannot afford the time and costs of expensive litigation, offering the hope that those responsible for shoddy construction work can now be held to account.

The WFW London team that represented Abbey Healthcare was led by Construction Partner Barry Hembling working closely with Dispute Resolution Associate Simon Jennings. They were supported by Associate Sam Goodwill with assistance from Associate Yaascia Hamilton-Haye and trainees including Maximilian O’Driscoll, Cosmo Fisher and Idil Yusuf.

Barry commented: “I am delighted that we have been able to secure this excellent result for our client. It is an important decision that comes whilst the construction and real estate industries continue to grapple with an ongoing building safety crisis. This gratifying victory is the culmination of the team’s hard work and dedication and reinforces WFW’s ever-growing reputation for excellence in construction disputes”.

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