Post Contract Construction

The change from pre-construction to the construction stage reflects all the preparation required to define your project that allows the construction work to start on site. [Read more…]

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A new year brings fresh thinking from FIDIC and new developments…

by Sarah Thomas

I thought that I would hail in the new year with an update on some interesting construction developments. Put it down to a period of reflection over the Christmas break! As I want to cover a number of areas, I have split this update into 2 postings.

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Let’s talk about it: is mediation a viable option in Dubai?

by Melanie Grimmitt

Mediation has become established in the West as a useful alternative to more confrontational and adversarial forms of dispute resolution. Here in Dubai it is uncommon, but in our experience the number of disputes is on the increase, so could it, or should it, have a role to play?

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Debt Recovery in the UAE

by Sachin Kerur

We are all still feeling the impact the global downturn is having on the construction sector in the UAE. Not only is it a challenge to find work in this market, increasing numbers of contractors and consultants are finding it difficult to recover payment for work they have already undertaken.

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Is your Arbitrator too busy?

by Martin Harman

In the autumn of this year I had the dubious pleasure of celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the publication of the Terms of Reference in an administered arbitration, which is still lumbering towards its own uncertain conclusion. At the time of our appointment as lawyers for one of the parties, which was shortly after the issue of the Terms of Reference, I toyed with the idea of proposing to my client a fixed fee for taking the case to conclusion. It seemed to me that this was quite a “cutting edge” concept at the time and I thought to myself that whilst the risk of such a course of action taken at the outset of hostilities could be very high, I mused that following close of pleadings and the crystallisation of the issues in dispute within the Terms of Reference, the task of assessing the likely future costs would not be beyond the whit of the reasonably experienced lawyer. I therefore felt that the risk of taking a bath on the fixed fee would not be that great. However, some little voice within me clearly counselled caution and as a result I did not make that proposal. Whilst this has saved me from a personal embarrassment and possible lynching by my partners, nevertheless my client has suffered because the case has taken a course which nobody could have predicted at the time when the Terms of Reference were agreed.

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Litigating a dispute with French connections – the rule of exorbitant jurisdiction applied by the French courts

by Gauthier Van Nieuwenhuyse

Continuing our discussion on issues to consider when litigating a dispute with French connections (see our last post “A Growing Trend In French Construction Law? The Recognition of Mandatory Rules by the Court of Cassation”), the following contribution highlights a further issue to be considered by parties to a construction contract when litigating as, or with, a French party to the contract.

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Construction Claims

by Sarah Thomas

Question:
I am a project manager for the employer on a power plant project based in Europe. We have been on quite good terms with the contractor up until now. Last week the contractor sent us a claim for 12 weeks’ delay to the programme and for compensation costs (we are using the FIDIC Yellow Book (Plant and Design Build) 1999 form and English governing law). They are saying that dealing with contamination in the ground discovered in the last few weeks will cause a delay. We had a couple of site meetings with the contractor and sub-contractor about the programme and the potential delays, prior to the contractor sending the claim. I have two issues with the claim: firstly, we do not believe that the ground conditions will cause 12 weeks’ delay; our estimate would be closer to about 6 weeks. Secondly, the contractor’s written notice of claim is just a couple of lines in an email to me and I am not sure this counts as proper “notice”.
I do not want to jeopardise our relationship with the contractor, but obviously I am concerned to limit our exposure to any delay costs. I would appreciate any advice about how we can deal with this claim from our contractor.

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A fixed price may not always be fixed in China

by Hew Kian Heong

I bought a painting a couple of months ago which I really liked. I did not have a place to hang it at the time. The gallery owner was eager to make the sale and so agreed I could pick it up later when I had found a place to hang it. So I agreed a price with the gallery owner and paid her a 10% deposit. When I turned up to collect the painting recently, the gallery owner sheepishly asked if I could pay a little more for the painting. The reason she gave was that her landlord had increased her rent significantly and she was struggling to keep the gallery going. I had also driven a hard bargain on the price. I was a little annoyed by the request but agreed to pay 10% more as the gallery owner is a really nice lady and I knew it was true her landlord had increased her rent by a ridiculous amount.

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Going Green Gets Greatly Muddled

by Andrew Ness

The spreading trend toward “green” building has resulted in a number of competing and overlapping certification systems, with only faint hope in sight of better standardization. United States builders are most familiar with the LEED system sponsored by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Through USGBC’s association with the World Green Building Council, LEED is now available in almost 60 countries, spanning the globe from Malaysia to Morocco.
Starting in 1996, Canada’s Building Research Establishment developed its Environmental Assessment Method. This then evolved into an online assessment and rating tool owned by BOMA Canada, known as Green Globes. BOMA Canada then licensed Green Globes to the Green Building Initiative (GBI) in the United States to compete with LEED. To raise its “market share” GBI has applied to have Green Globes accredited by the American National Standards Institute.
Outside of the Americas, the BREEAM standard promulgated by BRE in the United Kingdom has become widely used and adopted for use in Europe and the Gulf Region, with approximately 110,000 buildings BREEAM certified. There are also a number of national and local standards. France has the HQE system, and about 70% of the commercial buildings built in Australia since 2002 have been rated under the “Green Star” system. In Italy, a regional standard known as Protocollo Itaca was developed for specific regions, but has now been divided into two separate and more streamlined standards.

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Making Demands on Advance Payment Guarantees and Performance Bonds – the “fraud exception”

by Karen Gough

The general principle is that subject only to the “fraud exception” claims for payment under Advance Payment Guarantees (“APGs”) and Performance Guarantees or Bonds (“PGs”) should be met on demand. The Courts have not been kind to those resisting payment, even when the claims are doubtful, potentially dishonest and/or clearly overstated.

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