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Aspect Contracts (Asbestos) Limited (Claimant) v Higgins Construction Plc (Defendant)
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1 User Commentary

Melanie Davidson (In-house lawyer) 28 September 2015

Case Digest: Aspect Contracts (Asbestos) Limited (Respondent) v Higgins Construction Plc (Appellant) [2015] UKSC 38

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Whether, and to what extent, in commencing proceedings after the limitation period has elapsed for the other side, a paying party is able to disturb a provisional position established an adjudicator's decision.

The Supreme Court handed down judgment on 17 June 2015 in Aspect Contracts (Asbestos) Limited (Respondent) v Higgins Construction Plc (Appellant) [2015] UKSC 38. Lord Mance, Lord Wilson, Lord Sumption, Lord Reed, and Lord Toulson heard the appeal. 

Handing down the judgment, Lord Mance stated that adjudication is intended as a provisional measure pending final determination (under sections 108 and 114 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996, read with The Scheme for Construction Contracts (England and Wales) Regulations 1998 (SI 1998 No 649). Aspect's indepenedent basis for having the original dispute determined arose from the payment to Higgins', on an implied contractual or restititionary basis. A directly enforceable right to recover the payment arose when it was not found to have been due. This fell within the six year limitation period for their claims in contract and restitution. In contrast Higgins Construction's counter-claim for the balance of its original claim was time-barred under the Limitations Act 1980.

The obiter observations of the Court of Appeal in Walker Construction Ltd v Quayside Homes Ltd [2014] EWCA Civ 93 approving Akenhead J’s decision in the present case, were wrong and were overruiled.

Appeal unanimously dismissed.


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