Inghams v Hannigan.Complex ADR arrangements land parties into a right litigation pickle.

A quick note on (thank you, Michael Douglas, for flagging) [2020] NSWCA 82 Inghams v Hannigan, in which the New South Wales Court of Appeal had to untangle a messy alternative dispute resolution (ADR) clause in a contract. I have actually included ‘messy’ as a tag for this post.

The Headnote to the judgment summarises the contractual clauses that needed proper construction. The case is a good illustration of how ADR clauses can lead parties straight into a right pickle, when different obligations to make recourse to mediation and /or (in this case: either /and /or) arbitration and indeed ultimately litigation in the courts at ordinary apply to separate parts of the contract. It forces parties to consider what part of the contract they actually have issue with and for the courts to try and untangle what ADR obligations follow.

A definite case of less can be more and of fancy ADR clauses not always giving wings to contractual interpretation. (The case concerns supplies of chickens. Bad pun. It’s a Saturday morning. I shall keep schtum for the rest of the day).



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