Up until the spring of 2020, a FIDIC 1999 Sub-Clause 13.7 [Adjustments for Changes in Legislation] claim was just one of many issues to be resolved, for example, in a delay and disruption claim or a Cost claim. However, the focus it receives in the context of Covid-19 is drastically different. Many in the industry are using the changes in legislation provision to seek financial compensation in a situation that would otherwise potentially only attract an extension of time. Awarding Cost for Covid-19 events regardless of the circumstances may seem to some (Contractors mostly, though there are Employers and Engineers who agree) like the appropriate thing to do, but whether it is correct according to the Contract is a different question.
The last year or two has seen changes in arbitration rules and procedures, caused in no small part by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are new LCIA, DIFC-LCIA and ICC arbitration rules. The Seoul Protocol on Video Conferencing in International Arbitration is being regularly used and the Africa Arbitration Academy Protocol on Virtual Hearings has been issued. There have also been revisions to the IBA Rules on Taking Evidence in International Arbitration. This short update looks at the key take-aways from these changes.
A contract may require a party giving notice of a claim to specify the contractual or legal basis of that claim in the notice (or the supporting particulars). What if that party states a contractual or legal basis for the claim but later (perhaps with the benefit of additional information or because of advice from its lawyers) changes its mind or wants to include further contractual or legal bases? This was considered by the Hong Kong Court of Appeal in Maeda Corporation and China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong) Limited v Bauer Hong Kong Limited  HKCA 830. It found that a subcontractor could not change the contractual basis for its claim once the time period for providing such notice had expired. What, if any, impact will this decision have on the FIDIC forms of contract?
An issue that often arises in international arbitrations involving the FIDIC forms of contract is whether a claimant's failure to: (a) go through the dispute resolution provisions; or (b) comply with a time-bar clause gives rise to a question of admissibility or jurisdiction. Put another way, if a claimant has failed to issue a notice of claim within 28 days or failed to refer a dispute to a DAB, does the arbitral tribunal have jurisdiction to make an award on the merits or should the arbitral tribunal make an award stating that it lacks jurisdiction?
Covid-19 has had huge consequences around the world and unfortunately
FIDIC is concerned about its image. It says that heavily amending the FIDIC forms of contract impacts upon the FIDIC brand and that this is damaging FIDIC’s reputation. It seeks to address this with the introduction of five Golden Principles. But the Golden Principles are merely aspirational; they are not binding and have no contractual effect. Does this render them a pointless gesture ‘trying to hold back the tide’?
Contract clauses that deny a contractor entitlement to an extension of time for concurrent delays caused by both employer and contractor are valid in principle. In North Midland Building Ltd -V- Cyden Homes Ltd  the Court of Appeal of England and Wales has ruled that such clauses do not offend the common law prevention principle. Nor do they give rise to an implied term to prohibit the imposition of delay damages that may result.
This article considers what the arbitration landscape will look like when (or perhaps if!) the UK leaves the EU and concludes that big changes are unlikely.
Two decades ago, unjust enrichment was described as “the Cinderella of law, barely 10 years old but growing up rapidly. Until recently unrecognised and overshadowed by the ugly sisters, Contract and Tort, Cinderella’s day has arrived.” In England a claim for unjust enrichment was initially referred to as a claim in ‘quasi contract’. This language has now been abandoned and unjust enrichment has a strong foothold in the landscape of commercial law and its role and limits are becoming more clearly defined. Despite this, it is only infrequently pleaded in construction cases and when argued it is often set out in broad terms where the facts do not support such a claim. However, this is cause of action that should not be overlooked by a contractor or employer – especially if they have claims that fall outside the four corners of their construction contract.
In this article Corbett & Co. Director Andrew Tweeddale addresses whether sub-clause 20.5 is a condition precedent to the commencement of an arbitration or whether it is an obligation, the breach of which will not affect the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal to resolve the dispute.
What relief does FIDIC provide when bank accounts are frozen as a result of war, hostilities, rebellion, terrorism etc.? Maybe not as much as you think. Tensions in Africa and the Middle East have seen the implementation of numerous international financial sanctions. While these sanction regimes vary in execution and enforcement they often freeze assets and prevent financial transactions. These restrictions may impact on the Employer’s performance of its payment obligations under the Contract. This can have serious consequences where the Contractor is entitled to suspend or terminate on notice for non-payment. Many parties automatically assume that financial sanctions will be recognised as force majeure. However, this may not be the case.
FIDIC is arguably the most widely used standard form of international construction contract but reported FIDIC cases are rare. Is it time for an increased publication of FIDIC cases? There are three categories of decisions arising out of FIDIC dispute resolution provisions: 1. Decisions of the Engineer or the Dispute Adjudication Board (DAB), which will generally not be published or reported to anyone other than the parties involved in the dispute. 2. Decisions of arbitral tribunals, which are not usually made public although this is subject to certain exceptions. 3. Decisions of national courts, which are a relatively rare occurrence for the reasons discussed below.
The 1999 FIDIC forms of contract contain a number of obligations and/or conditions precedent that require (a) a party to give notice of a claim (Sub-Clauses 20.1 and 2.5); (b) refer the claim to the Engineer (Sub-Clauses 20.1 and 3.5); and (c) submit the dispute to a Dispute Adjudication Board (“DAB”) (Sub-Clause 20.4). If either party gives a notice of dissatisfaction relating to the DAB’s Decision then Sub-Clause 20.5 provides that: “Where notice of dissatisfaction has been given under Sub-Clause 20.4 above, both Parties shall attempt to settle the dispute amicably before the commencement of arbitration. However, unless both Parties agree otherwise, arbitration may be commenced on or after the fifty-sixth day after the day on which notice of dissatisfaction was given, even if no attempt at amicable settlement has been made.”
Is not uncommon to find that an employer attempts to pass almost all risk in a contract to the contractor. However, such an approach may have unforeseen consequences when events later make completion of the works impossible. Here Andrew Tweeddale considers how and when a contractor might be released from further performance.
The purpose of the 1958 New York Convention is to facilitate so far as possible the international recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards. Nevertheless it provides that a court may refuse to do that if such an award has already been set aside or suspended at its seat. The English courts have interpreted this word ‘may’ as giving themselves a wide discretion. But it is one that in practice is likely to result in a refusal to enforce.
A contractor who has loaded a tender BoQ rate in the expectation of a windfall will be interested to learn that recent guidance from the Hong Kong Court of Appeal supports the engineer’s request for evidence of the original tender build up and, among other things, will disallow all loading if substantial differences in actual quantities would make it reasonable to do so under the contract. This article explores that new guidance which finds contract rates to be neither immutable nor sacrosanct in such circumstances.