Cases - Crown Estate Commissioners v John Mowlem and Co. Ltd

Record details

Crown Estate Commissioners v John Mowlem and Co. Ltd
70 BLR 1
Final certificate - effect of final certificate - conclusive on matters of materials and workmanship

John Mowlem was employed by Crown Estates pursuant to a JCT Standard Form, Private With Quantities, 1980 edition contract to construct a commercial development on the former site of the Kensington Palace Barracks. The final certification was issued on 2 December 1992 and some months later, on 6 April 2003, Crown Estates commenced an arbitration in respect of certain workmanship defects. A legal question on the effect of the final certificate was referred to the High Court and appealed to the Court of Appeal. The relevant clause was clause of the 1980 Contract which read:

'Except as provided in clauses 30.9.2 and 30.9.3... the Final Certificate shall have effect in any proceedings arising out of or in connection with this Contract ... as conclusive evidence that where the quality of materials or the standard of workmanship are to be to the reasonable satisfaction of the Architect the same are to such satisfaction.'

The Court of Appeal held that on the wording of this clause from the JCT 1980 contract, the final certificate was conclusive of all matters of materials and workmanship where approval of such is inherently something for the opinion of the architect.

This is to be contrasted with Crown Estates' proposition which was that it was only conclusive as to matters expressly stated to be for the approval of the architect in the contract documents. Following this case, the wording of the JCT contracts was changed so that the equivalent clause in the 1998 and 2005 suite of contracts only applies where the contract documents provide that a given element of materials and workmanship is to be for the satisfaction of the architect.