Category: Middle East

K&L Gates Named a “Go-To Construction Law Firm”
Overview and Q&A: Construction and Projects in Qatar
Update: Collateral Warranties in Qatar
New UAE Penal Law Allowing for the Imprisonment of Biased Arbitrators Leads to Widespread Concern and Uncertainty in International Arbitration Community
Welcome to the 32nd Edition of K&L Gates’ Arbitration World
Suspension and Termination Under the Civil Law, Part 2
Suspension and Termination Under the Civil Law, Part 1


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.


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. 


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. 


The K&L Gates Qatar-based Construction & Infrastructure team received two awards during the recent 2019 Qatar Business Law Forum Awards, retaining the “Property and Construction Firm of the Year” title for a second consecutive year, as well as earning a new recognition for “Alternative Dispute Resolution Firm of the Year.” The annual forum and awards ceremony recognizes exceptional achievement within Qatar’s legal community and is judged by a panel of nearly 30 industry leaders, academic practitioners, and government officials. The firm is honored to receive these awards, which highlight our commitment to not only the Qatari market but also our Middle East practice.

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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.

Overview and Q&A: Construction and Projects in Qatar

By Pawel Piotrowski, Matthew R. M. Walker and Amjad Hussain

The Q&A is part of the global guide to construction and projects. Areas covered include trends and significant deals, the main parties, procurement arrangements, transaction structures and corporate vehicles, financing projects, security and contractual protections required by funders, standard forms of contract, risk allocation, exclusion of liability, caps and force majeure. Also covered are material delays and variations, appointing and paying contractors, subcontractors, licences and consents, project insurance, labour laws, health and safety, environmental issues, corrupt business practices and bribery, bankruptcy and insolvency, public private partnerships (PPPs), dispute resolution, tax, the main construction organisations, and proposals for reform.

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New UAE Penal Law Allowing for the Imprisonment of Biased Arbitrators Leads to Widespread Concern and Uncertainty in International Arbitration Community

By Michael P. Cotton, K&L Gates, Pittsburgh

Through a recent amendment to Article 257 of the UAE Penal Code, any arbitrators, experts, or translators who issue biased decisions or opinions in UAE arbitration proceedings may now be subject to criminal liability. The new law has led to widespread concern and uncertainty in the international arbitration community.

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By Matthew Walker and Leanie van de Merwe, K&L Gates, Doha

In Appeal No. 173/2016, the Qatar Court of Cassation considered an appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision  dismissing an application for the enforcement of an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) award.


The Qatari Court of Cassation has clarified the position on enforcement of foreign arbitral awards in Qatar, by confirming that none of the domestic requirements relating to certification and authentication of foreign official documents apply to international awards, thanks to the New York Convention.

This judgment is a significant step in the right direction for arbitration in Qatar, especially where it concerns the hotly debated topic of  enforcement of foreign awards. Qatar, which has a mixed legal system (Civil Law based on overriding principles of the Shari’a), does not recognise the principle of legal precedent in the same way as a common law jurisdiction does. Judges are generally not strictly bound by the decisions made in previous cases or by superior courts. However, whilst this judgment may not be strictly binding on the lower courts in Qatar, it may be considered as highly persuasive, and is therefore not a case that the lower courts should overlook lightly.

It remains to be seen whether the French courts will uphold or dismiss the appeal in the parallel proceedings to annul the award. Until then, the Court of Cassation’s judgment stands and provides considerable clarity on the requirements for enforcement of an ICC award in Qatar. (Appeal No. 173/2016).

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Welcome to the 32nd Edition of K&L Gates’ Arbitration World

Welcome to this 32nd edition of Arbitration World.

To view Arbitration World, click here.

To download a printable PDF of the publication, open the link above and click on the fourth icon from the right in the magazine toolbar at the top of the page.

We are very pleased to include in this edition, as part of our series of guest contributions from expert witnesses, an article by Howard Rosen and Noel Matthews of FTI Consulting, regarding how “country risk” can affect the value of investments and the approach towards this issue in damages calculations in international arbitration.

We review recent developments in arbitration in Qatar, including court decisions regarding the validity of arbitration agreements and the enforcement of arbitration awards. As part of a series of articles related to so-called “Bermuda Form” liability insurance policies, we look at the process of formation of the arbitral tribunal in Bermuda Form policies and whether such insurance policies may conflict with certain U.S. state laws regulating insurance.

We report on a recent decision of the English Commercial Court regarding enforcement of a tribunal’s order for a provisional payment, as well as a recent UK Privy Council decision on the meaning and effect of permissive arbitration clauses. We review the new mediation rules of the Vienna International Arbitration Centre (VIAC) and report on the work of an International Bar Association (IBA) Subcommittee in assessing how states have defined the public policy exception under the New York Convention.

We review some recent decisions of the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland on arbitration award set-aside applications in the past year. We are also very pleased to include a guest contribution from Ben Beaumont, a barrister from Thomas More Chambers and Chairman of the Arbitration Club, regarding a recent decision of the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland on the role of a Dispute Adjudication Board (DAB) under the FIDIC Red Book regime.

We also provide our usual update on developments from around the globe in international arbitration and investment treaty arbitration.

We hope you find this edition of Arbitration World of interest, and we welcome any feedback (email or

Suspension and Termination Under the Civil Law, Part 2

By Alex Brightman, K&L Gates, Doha and Donal Scott, K&L Gates, Dubai

In a previous blog post, we looked at suspension and termination of a construction contract under a Civil Code system.  We focused, in particular, on the FIDIC form of contract and looked at how that would be treated under the Qatar Civil Code.

In this article, we will continue that review, but look at how suspension and termination would operate under the UAE Civil Code.

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Suspension and Termination Under the Civil Law, Part 1

By Alexander Brightman, K&L Gates, Doha

Although “freedom of contract” is a concept that is recognised in both the common law and civil law jurisdictions, the codified and prescriptive nature of a civil law system means that the relevant provisions of the Civil Code may even be implied into robustly drafted contracts, including standard forms. As set out below, such implied provisions could have the undesirable effect of delaying termination whilst a court order is obtained or exposing the terminating party to a claim for breach of contract (and compensation) for unlawful termination. In this article, I will be discussing suspension and termination rights under the FIDIC Contract (Red and Yellow Books), before examining the position under the Qatar Civil Code.  In a follow-up blog post, I will look at suspension and termination under the UAE Civil Code.

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