Construction Law

Legal issues, news, and regulations concerning the construction industry

1
Return of arbitration to road construction disputes in Poland
2
What is the thinking behind zero subsidy bids in the first auction for offshore wind farms in Germany?
3
Insurance Policy Did Not Prevent Association Recovery from Subcontractors for Defective Work
4
Techniques to Maximize SDI Coverage and Streamline the Claim Process
5
Pennsylvania’s New “State Construction Notices Directory” and the Implementation of Significant Changes to Pennsylvania’s Mechanics’ Lien Law
6
Dispelling the Myths of Lean Construction and IPD
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
New UAE Penal Law Allowing for the Imprisonment of Biased Arbitrators Leads to Widespread Concern and Uncertainty in International Arbitration Community

Return of arbitration to road construction disputes in Poland

By Łukasz Gembiś, K&L Gates, Warsaw

In February 2017, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Construction announced the introduction of the “New standards in road construction” aimed primarily at regulating the balanced division of risks in roads construction contracts. Among many changes that have been made to the new model of public procurement contracts in road construction, special attention should be paid to returning – after many years of absence – arbitration as the preferred method of settling disputes between public investors and general contractors in Poland.

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What is the thinking behind zero subsidy bids in the first auction for offshore wind farms in Germany?

By Christoph Mank, K&L Gates, Berlin

As announced last year in our blog post of 6 June 2016, Germany passed an amendment to the German Renewable Energy Act (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz) to implement bidding processes for determining the amount of funding for the generation of electricity from renewable energies.

As mentioned in our earlier post, the German government saw the transition to bidding processes as being a central instrument for attaining two goals: (a) on the one hand, to develop a certain share of renewable energies in the production of electricity as laid down in policy guidelines; and (b) on the other hand, to limit the funding to a level that is economically essential.

The new law came into effect the beginning of 2017, and the new era started with an auction of 1.55 GW. Only very advanced projects that have already been granted approval or received planning permission, and whose commissioning is planned for the period from 2021 to 2024, were qualified to participate in that auction.

The result of the auction was surprising for many market observers: Four bids were able to be accepted, totalling 1,490 megawatts. All successful projects are located in the North Sea. Three of the four successful bids were awarded for zero subsidies, and the highest accepted subsidy by the regulatory authority was 6 ct/kWh, which is 50% below the highest possible maximum subsidy. There were only two large energy companies that were successful in the auction: a German utility with one project and a Danish energy group with three projects.

The thinking behind subsidy-free bids is mainly economy of scale and further development of the technology-in-use on the one hand and expectation of higher market prices for electricity on the other hand.

According to the regulatory authority, the result of the first auction has proven that the decision for a system change was the right one. Furthermore, it has also proven the competitiveness of offshore wind energy, which now claims to raise the regulated capacity for the development of offshore wind farms.

The German Federal Association for Wind Energy (Bundesverband WindEnergie – BWE), an interest group of the entire wind industry, which also includes the organized interests of the onshore wind industry, is more reluctant. According to their statement, it is not clear if state subsidies are just exchanged with group internal subsidies of offshore projects, a strategy which more medium-sized corporations with no public stakeholders may not be able to follow.s the objective of cost efficiency; however, it still remains to be seen whether the system will actually guarantee a further continuous development of wind energy — both offshore and onshore.

Insurance Policy Did Not Prevent Association Recovery from Subcontractors for Defective Work

By Justin L. Weisberg, K&L Gates, Chicago              

On February 17, the First District Appellate Court issued an opinion regarding the Implied Warranty of Habitability in the case of Sienna Court Condominium Association v. Champion Aluminum Court et al.  The opinion involved three separate appeals: the first relating to claims by Sienna Court Condominium Association (“Sienna”) against an insolvent developer and an insolvent general contractor; the second involving the dismissal of Sienna’s claims against the architect, the engineers, and suppliers; and the third involving the dismissal of the general contractor’s claims against its subcontractors.

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

Techniques to Maximize SDI Coverage and Streamline the Claim Process

Newark partner Christopher Barbarisi was published by Construction Executive magazine on the topic of “Techniques to Maximize SDI Coverage and Streamline the Claim Process.”

Design-builders, general contractors and “at risk” construction managers are all vulnerable to the risk of a subcontractor default. Aside from contract-related safeguards, such as increased retention, joint checks and letters of credit, subcontractor surety bonds have been the traditional mechanism for third-party risk transfer.

First introduced in the mid-1990s, subcontractor default insurance (SDI) provides a viable “first-party” insurance alternative to traditional surety bonds. To compete with surety bonds, SDI policies are heavily marketed as having a more efficient claim processes. In practice, the SDI claim process is not without its challenges. Effective techniques can be employed to streamline the process and keep the project funded and on track.

To read the full article on Construction Executive, click here.

Pennsylvania’s New “State Construction Notices Directory” and the Implementation of Significant Changes to Pennsylvania’s Mechanics’ Lien Law

By William D. Wickard, Erin D. Fleury

Important changes to Pennsylvania’s Mechanics’ Lien Law recently took effect on December 31, 2016, with the launch of an online State Construction Notices Directory. These amendments to the Mechanics’ Lien Law (which were passed by the Pennsylvania legislature in 2014) modify the process and deadlines applicable to subcontractors, contractors and owners with respect to mechanics’ liens on projects costing over $1.5 million.  In short, these amendments require subcontractors to comply with an earlier lien notice requirement by providing a “Notice of Furnishing” within 45 days of beginning work or providing materials if the owner has filed a “Notice of Commencement” to the online directory with respect to a “searchable project” prior to commencement of work on the project.
To read the full alert on K&L Gates HUB, click here.

Dispelling the Myths of Lean Construction and IPD

By Justin L. Weisberg, K&L Gates, Chicago

The text of this article first appeared in the December 2016 issue of SubStance, a publication by the Illinois Mechanical & Specialty Contractors Association.

Over the last year we have witnessed a successful Congress in Chicago by the Lean Construction Institute, a growing number of projects adopting Lean Construction Processes (“LCP”), in Illinois, and the recognition of the completion of at least one significant project in Illinois, which utilized Integrated Project Delivery (“IPD”). Nevertheless, I have perceived that there is confusion in the industry relative to LCP and IPD based upon comments made at presentations given by practitioners in the construction industry, who have not been involved with, or studied Lean Construction. The following article provides a brief overview and a comparison of LCP and IPD to address the myths created by some of these comments.

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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.

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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