Rossco Civil Engineering Limited v Dwr Cymru Cyfyngedic
Citation: All ER (D) 339 (Jul)
Nature of case:
Under an agreement between the parties, DWR, known as Welsh Water, supplied the water pipes and fittings to Rossco for installation at various sites in south Wales. At the time of the agreement, Rossco was a partnership consisting of a plant hire enterprise and a civil engineering contracting enterprise, though shortly afterwards was incorporated as a limited company.
Disputes between the parties were later referred to adjudication, during which the adjudicator sought clarification of whether Rossco was a limited company or a partnership. The party representing Rossco confirmed that it was a limited company, while Welsh Water stayed silent in relation to this point, and the adjudication proceeded on the basis that the limited company was the correct responding party.
Following the adjudicator’s decision in Rossco’s favour, Welsh Water sought to defend enforcement of the award on the basis that the adjudication lacked jurisdiction because the proper responding body was the partnership. Recorder Dermott O’Brien QC rejected this point, and held that Rossco was entitled to the payment of the award made in the adjudication decision. The basis for this was that as the defendant to the adjudication, Welsh Water was under a duty at the time of the adjudication to say whether Rossco was incorporated. As it had stayed silent, it was prevented from resisting the claim through an estoppel by convention.