Sunday, January 25, 2009

Busy 2008 for dispute resolution specialist PJ English

Dispute resolution specialist Peter English says he has won ВЈ8m for his clients this year, and he anticipates that figure jumping to ВЈ11m in 2009.

His group, PJ English Associates, is currently working on 74 cases which represents a substantial increase on the figure of 15 at the same time last year.

“A lot of our work has stemmed from the high-profile case we handled on behalf of Southern Glass Services,” said English after an adjudicator ruled (10 months ago) that the 3% deductions from agreed payment terms being summarily removed by Barratt Southampton were out of order.

The money involved (ВЈ19,000) was paid back along with a further ВЈ5,400 to cover interest charges

Interestingly, after that debacle, Barratt has become one of the good guys and not a single case on English’s current schedule bears the name Barratt.


Busy 2008 for dispute resolution specialist PJ English


Two of his largest cases at the moment involve acting for a groundwork contractor who claims to be owed money on two scores: ВЈ500,000 from a major house builder and another from a smaller contractor.

“The larger players are not bowing down like they might have done in the past,” said English.

“However smaller players, who are owed £8,000 to £12,000 perhaps, are still caving in and adopting the stance that they will live with the problem and try to work through it.

“I’d say all the house builders are currently trying it on apart.

“The others are knocking 5% irrespective off what their agree payment terms say.

“Another trick is for them to close a site when the scheme is only halfway through, then challenging their subcontractors to take them to court for breach and putting every obstacle in the way."

However, larger subcontractors are wising up, according to English. “They are saying вЂget stuffed – we’ll see you in court’ because they know they will win the court case,” he reports.

Of the 74 cases on English’s books at the moment, 38 are into the litigation or adjudication phase.

The balance, where the two sides have failed to settle amicably, are mostly waiting for a further input of effort or clarification before advice can be given on how best to handle them.

English expects half of this balance to eventually go into adjudication.

“In all , I’d expect to see 50-plus of our 74 cases being resolved by way of adjudication,” he said, “with another five or six being taken to court.”

English thinks most cases are in the bag even before he steps through the courtroom door simply because 80% of main contractors who summarily hang on to money they should pay out fail to issue a withholding notice (a legal necessity) which means it's almost game over before the bell sounds for the start of the formal sparring.

Cash disputes soar as credit crunch bites
Good product at right price is no longer enough
Why failure to plan is at the root of many project failures