Category: Asia Pacific

1
COVID-19: EPC AND EPCM IN LARGE CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS POST COVID-19
2
K&L Gates Named a “Go-To Construction Law Firm”
3
New Planning Framework for the Western Sydney Aerotropolis
4
Court Places Assets in the Freezer
5
Western Sydney Aerotropolis: the call for private investment
6
Third party funding of arbitration in Hong Kong is given the green light
7
Time Waits for No-One When a Garnishee Order can be Obtained to Enforce an Adjudicator’s Determination
8
Third Party Funding for Arbitration in Hong Kong
9
Unfair Contract Terms with Small Businesses: Implications for the Construction Industry
10
Code Orange Moving to Green: New Building Code for Construction Sector

COVID-19: EPC AND EPCM IN LARGE CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS POST COVID-19

Authors: Pawel Piotrowski and Nicola J. Ellis

COVID-19 has highlighted some of the existing problems in the construction market such as fragmentation, low profitability and often low satisfaction for both owners and contractors (due to time and budget overruns and lengthy claims procedures and disputes). In this article, we consider the choice of the procurement method for large construction projects and issues and risks raised by COVID-19.

EPC

Owners often procure major construction projects on a fixed price, lump sum turnkey contract whereby the contractor is responsible for all engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) aspects of the development by a specified date (subject to a limited number of circumstances which will provide the contractor with relief). Under this arrangement, the EPC contractor directly engages the supply chain and takes responsibility for building and delivering the project so that the owner simply has to ‘turn the key’. Any changes or variations that the owner may require to the original scope provided to the EPC contractor will be at the owner’s risk and therefore it is important to have a high degree of certainty and detail as to the scope of works, and often a detailed design provided by the owner to assist the EPC contractor in providing an accurate price.  

The EPC has many advantages for the owner, including that it places lower management burden on them. It provides a single point of responsibility for the project to the owner and gives the owner and any lenders a high degree of certainty as to the time and cost of the development. Since the owner has recourse against a single contractor rather than having to pursue multiple contractors and suppliers, the dispute resolution process is usually less complicated. The EPC contractor should therefore seek to pass down all main obligations from the EPC contract onto its subcontractors to mitigate its liability position.

In return for taking on a high amount of risk as to time and cost, contractors may reflect this in their pricing and may include a substantial risk premium in the contract price. Owners can mitigate this to some degree by procuring EPC contracts in competitive tenders where the lowest price is often the decisive factor. That, in turn, often results in EPC contracts carrying a risk of change orders / variations which can become very costly to the owners if agreed or potentially catastrophic to those contractors who haven’t included a sufficient risk premium when submitting a low price proposal, leading to a focus on cost control by the contractor.

In these unprecedented times, the risk of force majeure events, effects of a change in law, risk of supply chain disruptions and the risk of integrating the performance of the entire supply chain have posed a particular challenge for contractors.  As a result, contractors may become more reluctant to take on some of these risks and may seek to exclude or set parameters around their liability for such risks or owners may see tenders with higher risk premiums. 

EPCM

Where the owner wishes to retain greater control over the project, the owner may opt for an EPCM contracting structure. 

The EPCM or ‘engineering, procurement and construction management’ contract is a construction management agreement whereby the EPCM contractor is responsible for advising the client on the design and procurement of the project but also for overseeing and managing all construction and supply contracts. An EPCM contract can therefore be seen more as a professional services contract in contrast to EPC contracts which are design and construction contracts. The EPCM contractor does not perform construction work. It is the owner who directly enters into numerous contracts with various contractors and suppliers. 

EPCM has many advantages for owners, including greater flexibility allowing projects to be tailored to current conditions as owners can modify the design or procurement plan mid-project and negotiate directly with the relevant contractors or suppliers. This can mean early engagement of certain packages prior to finalising the scope of work which may result in an earlier completion date. 

The overall price of the project under an EPCM arrangement may be lower as most of the risk priced for in EPC contracts sits with the owner and the owner is able to negotiate with the supply chain itself. 

EPCM also has disadvantages. The administrative burden of the owner directly negotiating and contracting with each of the contractors or suppliers is far greater than under EPC and significant demands are placed on the owner’s skills and resources (although the EPCM contractor may be able to ease this burden). Interface risk and coordination between each contractor or supplier needs to be managed and this often sits with the owner.  Where a dispute arises, this is also more complex for the owner due to difficulties in allocating fault and risk amongst multiple contractors, rather than having a single point of responsibility as under EPC contracts.

However, from our experience, most of these disadvantages can be reduced by way of proper implementation strategy, planning, contracting and management. 

Both EPC and EPCM have advantages and disadvantages but can be beneficial when used in the right circumstances. The objectives, scope of work and risk profile should be clearly understood in choosing which method to use as the cost implications of choosing the incorrect form can be substantial for both parties. 

K&L Gates Named a “Go-To Construction Law Firm”

K&L Gates is pleased to have been named the “Best Firm to Handle the Construction Project of the Future” by Above the Law.

“The construction industry has been around for centuries, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t adapted to the changing times. The Construction and Infrastructure Group at K&L Gates draws from vast past experience to focus on ensuring that construction projects are sustainable for the next generation. The firm’s lawyers specialize in niche areas like integrating technology and IP into construction projects and incorporating clean energy and green initiatives. When you’re planning a construction project for a better tomorrow, K&L Gates is thinking ahead.”

For the full article, please click here.

New Planning Framework for the Western Sydney Aerotropolis

Clive Cachia, Kirstie Richards

What has happened?

The NSW Government has played its hand in setting out the priorities for the proposed development of the Western Sydney Aerotropolis by releasing the draft Stage 1 Land Use and Infrastructure Implementation Plan (Draft Stage 1 Plan).

Further to our earlier updates on the development of the Western Sydney Airport (see here and here), the Aerotropolis will serve as Western Sydney’s new economic hub to support the massive public and private investment needed to construct and operate this once in a lifetime infrastructure development.

The Draft Stage 1 Plan provides clarity on the proposed re-zonings and sequencing of development for the Aerotropolis. The NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DP&E) is seeking feedback on the Draft Stage 1 Plan until 2 November 2018. See link for details on how to make a submission on the Draft Stage 1 Plan.

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Court Places Assets in the Freezer

By Sandra Steele and Michael O’Callaghan, K&L Gates, Sydney

The Supreme Court of Western Australia has recently made a freezing order in the matter of Trans Global Projects Pty Ltd (In Liquidation) (TGP) v Duro Felguera Australia Pty Ltd (Duro) [2018] WASC 136.

This decision sheds light on:

  • the factors that the Court will consider in granting a freezing order (i.e. an order whereby the assets of a company are “frozen” so that the company cannot dispose of or deal with those assets)
  • the circumstances in which a Court will issue a freezing order to enforce an arbitral award.

In short, the Court ordered that AUD20 million of Duro’s assets be frozen as Justice Tottle was persuaded that there was a danger that a prospective judgment based on an arbitral award against Duro would be wholly or partly unsatisfied because there was danger that the assets of Duro would be removed from Australia (or disposed of, dealt with or diminished in value). The Court made this determination notwithstanding Duro’s cross claims against TGP.

Read the full alert on K&L Gates HUB.

 

Western Sydney Aerotropolis: the call for private investment

By: Clive Cachia                     

As the fastest growing region in Australia, the development of Western Sydney has been a national focus. Publicly, the Australian Government has committed up to AUD5.3 billion in public equity funding towards the construction of Sydney’s second international airport, the Western Sydney Airport. Touted as the Western Sydney Aerotropolis, the surrounding region of Western Sydney Airport will need significant private investment of at least AUD20 billion to develop an integrated transport, logistics, defence, advanced health, food agtech and education precinct surrounding the runway and terminal facilities.

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Third party funding of arbitration in Hong Kong is given the green light

By Christopher Tung, Sacha Cheong and Dominic Lau, K&L Gates, Hong Kong

On 14 June 2017, the Legislative Council of Hong Kong passed the Arbitration and Mediation Legislation (Third Party Funding) (Amendment) Bill 2016.

The Bill comes on the heels of the consultation paper issued in October 2015 by the Law Reform Commission’s Third Party Funding for Arbitration Sub-committee and closely follows the recommendations made by the Law Reform Commission in its Report dated 12 October 2016 to clarify the law concerning third party funding of arbitration and associated proceedings under the Arbitration Ordinance. (For more information about the report and the LRC’s recommendations, see our article in the May 2017 issue of Arbitration World.

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Time Waits for No-One When a Garnishee Order can be Obtained to Enforce an Adjudicator’s Determination

By Sandra Steele and Andrew Hales, K&L Gates, Sydney

The Supreme Court is often called upon by an aggrieved party to restrain enforcement of an adjudicator’s determination whilst that party seeks to have the determination set aside.

In an ex tempore decision in Atlas Construction Group Pty Limited v Fitz Jersey Pty Limited [2017] NSWSC 72, his Honour Justice McDougall held that Fitz Jersey Pty Limited was not entitled to an interim injunction requiring AUD11 million received by Atlas Construction Group Pty Ltd pursuant to a garnishee order to be paid into court whilst Fitz Jersey pursued its application to set aside an adjudicator’s determination.

To read the full alert on K&L Gates HUB, click here.

Third Party Funding for Arbitration in Hong Kong

By Sacha Cheong and Dominic Lau, K&L Gates, Hong Kong

Given the highly technical and complex nature of the activities in the construction industry, to provide familiarity and certainty, and to save time and (legal and administrative) costs, standard form contracts are widely in use. Arbitration agreements are contained in most standard form contracts for similar reasons.

Traditionally, parties to construction disputes rely on their own financial resources to pay for legal representation in arbitration. This may soon undergo substantial changes as third party funders become much more active in this area.

Many jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, and more recently Singapore, already permit third party funding for arbitration.

The Hong Kong Government is in the process of introducing similar legislation in Hong Kong, along with various safeguards to ensure ethical standards are maintained and to prevent abuse. The law relating to maintenance and champerty, which is still punishable as a criminal offence, will no longer be applicable to Hong Kong arbitration.

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Unfair Contract Terms with Small Businesses: Implications for the Construction Industry

By Sandra Steele and Andrew Hales, K&L Gates, Sydney

The unfair contract term prohibitions in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) were recently extended to cover standard form contracts with small businesses.

The new law provides for unfair contract terms to be declared void and unenforceable. The relevant contract will then only continue to bind the parties insofar as it can operate without the unfair terms.

These changes may have significant impacts on the building and construction industry as terms typically found in construction contracts are likely to be subject to the prohibitions. We recommend that principals and contractors identify and review any standard form contracts they may have with small business counterparties that may be impacted by this new regime.

To read the full alert, click here.

Code Orange Moving to Green: New Building Code for Construction Sector

By Duncan Fletcher and Miriam Power, K&L Gates Perth

Background
The passing of the Registered Organisations Bill on by the Senate on Tuesday 22 November 2016 and the passage of the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill (ABCC Bill) on 30 November 2016 following protracted negotiations between the government and the crossbench brings the two Bills the government used to trigger the double dissolution election earlier this year full circle.

Apart from re-establishing the construction regulator (the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner), the ABCC Bill, once enacted, will implement the Building and Construction Industry (Fair and Lawful Building Sites) Code (Code). The Code establishes an enforcement framework under which building industry participants may be excluded from tendering for or being awarded Commonwealth-funded building work if they are non-compliant.

To read the full alert on K&L Gates HUB, click here.

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