Beaufort Developments (NI) Limited v Gilbert-Ash NI Limited and Others: HL 26 Feb 1998

The contractual ability given to an arbitrator under standard JCT terms did not oust the court from assessing and prejudging the acts of the architect under a building contract. As to the means for interpreting documents, Lord Hoffmann said: ‘I think, my Lords, that the argument from redundancy is seldom an entirely secure one. The fact is that even in legal documents (or, some might say, especially in legal documents) people often use superfluous words. Sometimes the draftsmanship is clumsy; more often the cause is a lawyer’s desire to be certain that every conceivable point has been covered. One has only to read the covenants in a traditional lease to realise that draftsmen lack inhibition about using too many words. I have no wish to add to the anthology of adverse comments on the drafting of the JCT Standard Form Contract.’ The architect is the agent of the employer. He is a professional man, but can scarcely be called independent.
Lord Goff of Chieveley, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, Lord Nolan, Lord Hoffmann, Lord Hope of Craighead
Gazette 17-Jun-1998, Times 08-Jun-1998, [1998] 2 WLR 860, [1998] UKHL 19, [1999] 1 AC 266, [1998] 2 All ER 778
House of Lords, Bailii
England and Wales
Cited by:
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These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 19 February 2021; Ref: scu.135154