A High Wycombe and Amersham-based law firm has successfully won a landmark case through the Supreme Court.

Blaser Mills LLP, which was named as one of the best law firms in the world at the end of 2019, won a case on behalf of Bresco Electrical Services Ltd against Michael J Lonsdale (Electrical) Ltd, with the former entering liquidation.

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Lawyer Nina Bhatti took on the case for Bresco.

In 2014, Bresco and Lonsdale entered into a contract where Bresco agreed to perform sub-contract electrical work for Lonsdale.

However, in December of that year, Bresco left the site without completing the work, with both companies claiming the other had wrongfully terminated the contract.

A year later in 2015, Bresco went into liquidation and in 2017, Lonsdale made a claim against Bresco for wrongful termination.

Lonsdale claimed the costs of completing the works, whilst Bresco maintained that it was Lonsdale that had actually terminated the contract, and therefore Lonsdale owed money.

Bresco referred its claim to adjudication seeking payment for work done and damages for breach of contract.

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However, Lonsdale sought an injunction to prevent the adjudicator from rendering its decision, stating that the adjudicator had no jurisdiction as Bresco was insolvent.

Bresco appealed the order, granting an injunction to the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal stated that the only claim that could be enforced was a claim for the net balance arising out of an insolvency set-off.

The set-off occurred automatically when Bresco entered liquidation, and the adjudicator did not have jurisdiction over the matter.

On appeal from the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court confirmed that there was no absolute jurisdictional bar preventing an insolvent party commencing and pursuing an adjudication.

Therefore, the cross-appeal by Lonsdale on jurisdiction failed and was dismissed.

Jackie Ray, commercial litigation partner at Blaser Mills Law, said: “This is an excellent result for our client and clarifies the statutory and contractual right to adjudication despite the insolvent state of the referring party.

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“This case has been of great interest to the legal world and, having progressed through a first instance decision to the Court of Appeal and finally to the Supreme Court, it’s a once in a lifetime case and the right decision.

“With the severe impact Covid-19 has had on the construction industry, the judgement is well-timed for those facing insolvency because of the pandemic.

“They will no longer have to ignore a potentially good adjudication claim and have the reassurance that it can be pursued even after they enter an insolvency process.”