A reduction in an amount paid to a party to reflect inadequate performance by that party (contrast set off).

Academy of Experts
A body for experts and users of experts involved in dispute resolution. The Academy has produced a Code of Guidance for Experts and a useful model form report.

Accommodation works
Preliminary works carried out to aid the development of land, for example the diversion of services.

(ACE) Association of Consulting Engineers
Engineering and technical association which works with other professional and trade groups. It publishes standard form engineering consultants’ appointments.

Acknowledgement of service
A form completed by the Defendant of his solicitors and filed at Court within a specified period confirming receipt of the Claim Form. If the Acknowledgement of Service is not filed at court in time judgement may be obtained against the Defendant.

Activity schedule
List of activities the contract expects to carry out in completing the works (see priced activity schedule).

A quick and cheap form of dispute resolution which is binding but not necessarily final. Adjudication is well suited to resolving disputes which arise during the course of the works which might otherwise disrupt progress. Since the Construction Act came into force, all construction contracts must allow for either party to refer a dispute to adjudication with a decision within 28days. The adjudicator’s decision is binding pending future compromise, litigation or arbitration. Unless the contract contains adequate adjudication provision, the adjudication provisions under the Scheme for Construction Contracts will be imposed.

Adjudication notice
A notice given by a party to a contract addressed to the other parties to the contract stating an intention to refer a dispute to adjudication. Under the Scheme for Construction Contracts, an adjudication notice must be served before an adjudicator may be appointed.

An adjudicator may be appointed by agreement, named in the contract or appointed by a nominating body. An adjudicator should have suitable experience and qualifications.

The procedure by which a local highways authority takes over the maintenance of a new road as a public highway.

(ADR) Alternative Dispute Resolution
Informal methods of dispute resolution including adjudication, mediation, conciliation, expert determination, expert appraisal and judicial appraisal. Cost effective and quicker alternatives to arbitration or litigation.

Advance Payment
A payment by an employer to cover a contractor’s start up and procurement costs, usually before work starts on site.

Advance payment bond
A bond provided by the contractor to secure an advance payment against default by the contractor.

Affordable housing
Also known as ‘social housing’. Most local planning authorities require larger residential developments to include a percentage of housing which is permanently accessible to the local market through a registered social landlord (housing association). Alternatively, the local planning authority may prefer the payment of a commuted sum.

(AI) Architect’s Instruction
A written instruction with which the contractor is required to comply in accordance with the terms of the building contract. It often relates to variations or defective work see also CVI)

The resolution of disputes by one or more arbitrators under the Arbitration Act 1996. If the construction contract contains a valid arbitration clause, disputes must be resolved by an arbitrator. The courts will generally decline to handle a dispute covered by an arbitration clause. An arbitrator’s award is final and binding, with only limited possibilities of appeal.

Arbitration Act 1996
Came into force on 31 January 1997 and replaces the previous Arbitration Acts. It sets out a comprehensive code governing arbitration.

Arbitration agreement or clause
A contractual clause which requires disputes to be resolved by arbitration rather than litigation. The JCT contracts now provide for a choice to be made a the outset between arbitration and litigation.

Arbitrator’s award
An arbitrator’s decision. Usually given with reasons – although it can be without reasons if the parties agree.

Archaeological survey
An investigation which developers are often obliged to carry out prior to development. If remains are discovered they are either preserved in situ or excavated. The development appraisal should take into account the resultant delay to the development timetable.

The principal designer of a building, traditionally the leader of the professional team. The architect is generally responsible for administering the terms of the building contract and for issuing payment and other certificates.

As built drawings
Show the actual construction of the project. Usually included in the health and safety file.

Assessment of costs
The procedure by which a court officer, known as a costs judge, decides how much of the winning party’s legal expenses should be paid by the losing party.

The transfer of the benefit of a contract, usually by deed. May require the consent of the other parties to the contract (contrast novation).

See arbitrator’s award and party wall award.