Category: Europe

1
New Bill Planned for the Development and Funding of Offshore Wind Energy in Germany
2
FIDIC Update: The Employer’s Claim to Liquidated Damages and Performance Security under the Yellow Book
3
Implementing Building Information Modelling (BIM) in Germany
4
FIDIC Update: Termination and the Employer’s Obligations under the Red Book
5
Reform of Construction Contract Law Planned in Germany
6
Materials Available: EPC Contracting Issues in the Oil & Gas Industry
7
Materials Available: 2015 Legal Update – Construction and Engineering Seminar
8
Update on Legal Advice Privilege
9
Unreasonable disadvantage to contractor: Securing warranty claims by standard terms and condi-tions restricted by German Federal Supreme Court
10
FIDIC Update: Further clarity provided by Obrascon Huarte Lain SA v HM Attorney General for Gibraltar

New Bill Planned for the Development and Funding of Offshore Wind Energy in Germany

By Christoph Mank, K&L Gates, Berlin

An introduction of bidding processes for determining the amount of funding for the generation of electricity from onshore wind turbines, offshore wind turbines and large photovoltaic systems is planned with an amendment of the German Renewable Energy Act (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz).

The German government sees the transition to bidding processes as being a central instrument for attaining the goals laid down by policy makers regarding the development of the share of renewable energies in the production of electricity. The political goal is to increase the share of renewables in the amount of electricity generated to between 40% and 45% by 2025, between 55% and 60% by 2035 and at least 80% by 2050. In real terms the increase in the contribution of renewable energy to the electricity production in Germany has gone from 25.3% in 2013 to 28% in 2014 and 32.6% in 2015. It is the political will of the current government not to fall below or exceed this established scope for expansion. For this purpose the aim is to fix the tendered quantities at a level that is as accurate as possible on the one hand; on the other hand, a high realisation rate needs to be achieved with regard to the projects awarded in the context of the bidding process.

A further goal of the general introduction of bidding processes for establishing the amount of funding is to limit the funding to a level that is economically essential. In order to ensure that this amount is determined correctly by means of the planned bidding processes, a high level of competition must be achieved for these.

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FIDIC Update: The Employer’s Claim to Liquidated Damages and Performance Security under the Yellow Book

By Camilla de Moraes, K&L Gates, London

The English courts have recently considered a number of cases involving the FIDIC suite of contracts (see here, here, and here for our previous blog posts).  The most recent case of J Murphy & Sons Ltd v Beckton Energy Ltd [2016] EWHC 607 (TCC)arises out of a contract based on FIDIC Conditions of Contract for Plant and Design Build for Electrical and Mechanical Plant and for Building and Engineering Works designed by the Contractor First Edition 1999 (FIDIC Yellow Book) with amendments.

The court was required to consider the relationship between two clauses in the Contract, namely Sub-Clause 2.5 (Employer’s Claims) and Sub-Clause 8.7 (Delay Damages and Bonus) with reference also to Sub-Clause 3.5 (Determinations) and 4.2 (Performance Security).  The issue in dispute was whether determination by the Engineer of the contractor’s liability for liquidated damages was a pre-requisite to recovery of liquidated damages by the Employer.  The court held that the clause entitling the Employer to liquidated damages operated outside of the regime in Sub-Clause 2.5 and therefore the Engineer’s determination was not a pre-requisite to the Employer’s entitlement.  This case also confirms the traditionally held view that obtaining injunctive relief preventing a beneficiary from calling on a performance bond will rarely be possible.

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Implementing Building Information Modelling (BIM) in Germany

By Christoph Mank, K&L Gates, Berlin

In recent years, numerous issues have accumulated in connection with the realisation of large building projects planned and financed by the public sector, such as the new international airport in Berlin, the Elb-Philharmonie in Hamburg and the Stuttgart 21 train station project. In particular, issues included delays, huge cost increases and communicating the projects and the attendant problems affecting the public. The ensuing discussions in the German public triggered the formation of a reform commission by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur), called “Bau von Großprojekten” or “Large-Scale Construction Projects”. One recommendation in the reform commission’s final report is that Building Information Modelling (BIM) should be implemented in Germany.

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FIDIC Update: Termination and the Employer’s Obligations under the Red Book

By Mike R. Stewart, Mary E. Lindsay, and Nita Mistry, K&L Gates, London

A Privy Council case last year provided some important guidance on the provisions in the FIDIC Red Book in relation to Employer’s financial arrangements and claims.  Whatever your perspective might be, when negotiating or managing a contract based on the FIDIC Books, employers and contractors should be aware of the Privy Council’s findings in NH International (Caribbean) Ltd v National Insurance Property Development Company Ltd (Trinidad and Tobago) [2015] UKPC 37.

The Contract
National Insurance Property Development Company Ltd (Trinidad and Tobago), the Employer, employed NH International (Caribbean) Ltd, the Contractor, to construct a hospital in Tobago under a contract in the form of the FIDIC Red Book.

On 2 November 2006, the Contractor terminated the contract pursuant to Clause 16.2.  The Employer did not agree the termination was valid but the parties proceeded as if the contract had been terminated.  A number of issues arose during the Engineer’s assessment of the work to the date of termination and these matters, including the validity of the termination, were referred to arbitration.

The arbitrator’s decisions in relation to Clauses 2.4 and 2.5 and Clause 16.1 were later appealed first to the High Court and the Court of Appeal in Tobago and then to the Privy Council.

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Reform of Construction Contract Law Planned in Germany

By Christoph Mank, K&L Gates, Berlin

Introduction
Despite the huge economic significance of the construction industry to Germany, there is, as yet, no codified construction contract law. Usually, general services contract law according to the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch – BGB) is applied to contract types as varied as manual repair work and project developments involving millions of Euros. Traditionally, general contractual terms known as “VOB/B” (Verdingungsordnung für Bauleistungen), which have existed for almost 100 years, are of considerable practical importance to the German construction industry. They are flanked by increasingly extensive case law regarding individual issues of construction law, requiring expert knowledge to comprehend the legal framework for construction contracts. A codification of construction contract law has been called for in Germany for a long time. The most recent comprehensive reworking of the law of obligations, which came into effect in 2002, also saw a revision of services contract law, but without consideration of the specific characteristics of construction contracts. The pressure exerted by practitioners on the legislature has increased due to recommendations issued by the building commission, “Deutscher Baugerichtstag”, that has been convening biannually since 2006. In September of this year, a draft bill was presented by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz) for the reform of the construction contract law. There will be considerable need for further discussion regarding the details in the consultations currently taking place among interested groups. However, we would like to take this opportunity to give an overview of the planned changes to the law.

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Materials Available: EPC Contracting Issues in the Oil & Gas Industry

K&L Gates and Marsh recently co-sponsored a one-day, complimentary seminar titled “EPC Contracting Issues in the Oil & Gas Industry.”

The seminar featured six hour-long sessions, including a luncheon presentation by Robert Peterson, senior partner at Oliver Wyman, and an industry roundtable review panel consisting of industry experts from Exxon Mobil, Phillips 66, Chicago Bridge & Iron Company, Fluor, and Aker Solutions.

More than 100 representatives from leading energy companies attended the seminar at the JW Marriott Houston Downtown.

Houston partners Randel Young and John Sullivan III, Pittsburgh partners Richard Paciaroni and Jason Richey, London partner Matthew Smith, Washington, D.C. partner Steven Sparling, and Dallas partner Beth Petronio, along with Pittsburgh associate Jackie Celender, presented during the seminar.

Seminar materials can be found here.

Materials Available: 2015 Legal Update – Construction and Engineering Seminar

On 7 October 2015, the K&L Gates London office held a 2015 Legal Update – Construction and Engineering breakfast seminar.  The seminar featured the following topics:

  • CDM 2015: The End of the Transition – Nicola Ellis, Special Counsel
    The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 came into force on 6 April. This session highlights the key changes that were introduced, the practical effects of those changes and the consequences of the transitional provisions coming to an end on 6 October.
  • Construction Law UpdateInga Hall, Special Counsel
    A summary of some of the recent key construction and engineering cases that have come before the courts, and the implications of those decisions.
  • The NEC3 Suite: Beyond the ECC – Matthew Smith, Partner
    This session looks at the true range of options the NEC3 suite of contracts offers and gives an insight into which issues are addressed consistently across the suite, and highlights the key differences between specific forms.

To view a copy of the materials from this seminar,  please click here.

Update on Legal Advice Privilege

By Mike R. Stewart and Nita Mistry, K&L Gates London

In common law jurisdictions, legal professional privilege prevents communications between a professional legal adviser and their clients from being disclosed.  There are two main types of privilege:

  • Legal advice privilege, which protects confidential communications between lawyers and their clients; and
  • Litigation privilege, which protects confidential communications, provided that such communications have been created for the dominant purpose of obtaining legal advice for litigation.

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Unreasonable disadvantage to contractor: Securing warranty claims by standard terms and condi-tions restricted by German Federal Supreme Court

By Christoph Mank, K&L Gates, Berlin

Background
Standard terms and conditions in German construction contracts often contain requirements to provide a warranty bond to secure performance by the contractor of its warranty obligations under the contract. These requirements often stipulate the contractor to provide both a performance guarantee and a warranty bond.

The warranty bond secures the contractor’s warranty obligations during the warranty period (typically arising after the acceptance and take-over of the construction works) and is often in an amount of not more than 5% of the contract sum. This practice has been established due to prior case law by the German Federal Supreme Court. According to the Federal Supreme Court, the client´s security interest after acceptance of the construction is significantly lower than its security interest during performance.

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FIDIC Update: Further clarity provided by Obrascon Huarte Lain SA v HM Attorney General for Gibraltar

By Mike R. Stewart and Mary E. Lindsay, K&L Gates, London

We wrote recently on the case of Obrascon Huarte Lain SA v Her Majesty’s Attorney General for Gibraltar [2014] EWHC 1028 (TCC).  The case provided welcome clarity on the interpretation of Sub-Clauses 4.12 (Unforeseeable Physical Conditions) and 20.1 (Contractor’s claims) and Clause 15 (Termination).  The matter was appealed and dismissed unanimously in Obrascon Huarte Lain SA v Her Majesty’s Attorney General for Gibraltar [2015] EWCA Civ 712 (http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2015/712.html).

The dispute arose out of the design and construction by Obrascon Huarte Lain SA of a road and tunnel under the runway of Gibraltar airport.  The contract was an amended form of the FIDIC Conditions of Contract for Plant and Design-Build for Electrical and Mechanical Plant, and for Building and Engineering Works, Designed by the Contractor, 1st edition, 1999; the Yellow Book.

In the first instance case, Mr Justice Akenhead was required to consider whether the employer was entitled to terminate.

In addition, the judgment clarified that, under Sub-Clause 20.1 of the FIDIC Conditions (Contractor’s Claims), time does not start running for the Contractor to give notice until the date on which he is aware (or should have been aware) of the delay resulting from a particular event or circumstance. The court only considered Sub-Clause 20.1 in relation to the extension of time, but the same principle is expected to apply to claims for additional payment made pursuant to the same provision.

The contractor appealed on the grounds that the court had incorrectly found that contamination encountered was foreseeable, failed to find that documents provided by the engineer constituted variations and failed to find that the employer had invalidly terminated the contract.  The contractor’s appeal against Mr Justice Akenhead’s decision was unanimously dismissed by the Court of Appeal.  The appeal judgment provides contractors with some helpful explanation in respect of each of these grounds of appeal.

(i)  What would constitute unforeseeable physical conditions under Clauses 1.1.6.8 and 4.12?

In this respect, the Court of Appeal was reluctant to overturn findings of fact made at the first instance, particularly in the case of appeals from a specialist court such as the English Technology and Construction Court (the TCC).

However, the Court of Appeal did note that Mr Justice Akenhead had “held that an experienced contractor would make its own assessment of all available data. In that respect the judge was plainly right. Clauses 1.1 and 4.12 of the FIDIC conditions require the contractor at tender stage to make its own independent assessment of the available information. The contractor must draw upon its own expertise and its experience of previous civil engineering projects. The contractor must make a reasonable assessment of the physical conditions which it may encounter. The contractor cannot simply accept someone else’s interpretation of the data and say that is all that was foreseeable.

(ii)  Had the Engineer issued instructions which varied the Works?

Again, on some points, the Court of Appeal was reluctant to interfere in the findings of the TCC.

The Court of Appeal found that the documents referred to it did not amount to instructions to vary the contract.  They were either matters which were the contractor’s obligations in any case, concessions by the employer which could be withdrawn and were not contractual or matters which the contractor had not, in fact, acted upon.

The analysis here (at paragraphs 101 to 112) of the judgment gives some indication of the Court’s interpretation of a variation instruction.

(iii)  What would give rise to a failure to proceed with the works under Clause 8 and so justify termination pursuant to Clause 15.2?

The first instance court had summarised the relevant legal principles.  These were not challenged but the contractor appealed the court’s application of the principles.

The Court of Appeal first addressed the contractor’s claim that it was undertaking a re-design of the works with which the employer and contractor had elected.  However, the Court of Appeal found “it is clear that neither GoG nor the Engineer made an election which committed them to adopting the re-design and rejecting the original design of the tunnel. The Engineer made it plain that the original design was perfectly satisfactory and capable of being constructed without any risk to health or safety. The Engineer was simply considering the re-design as a modification put forward by OHL”.

In addition, when the engineer considered the contractor’s design under Clause 5.2, he was considering whether the design was technically acceptable and whether, if the design was implemented, the completed works would accord with the contract. If the re-design is satisfactory in all those respects, it is not for the Engineer to reject the design because he thinks it will take too long to build as the contractor claimed.

The Court of Appeal then considered termination under Clauses 15.2(b) and 15.2(c)(i) and the obligation under Clause 8 of the FIDIC Conditions to “proceed with the works with due expedition and without delay”.  The Court decided that the obligation under Clause 8 is not directed to every task on the contractor’s to-do list.  Rather it is directed to activities which “are or may become critical”.

The Court of Appeal then considered whether there was a “reasonable excuse”, within the meaning of clause 15.2(c), for the contractor’s failure to proceed with the works.  On examination of the facts, it found there was no reasonable excuse.

As we have said, the appeal was unanimously rejected and agreed that the employer had validly terminated the contract.  The decision provides helpful clarity and reasoning to understand the FIDIC Conditions and should, combined with the first instance judgment, provide some welcome guidance in the areas considered.

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