CD: Reflecting on the last 12-18 months, have you seen an increase in infrastructure-related disputes? Are any particular sectors or regions giving rise to activity?
Bell: There seems to have been an increase in infrastructure disputes across the board. Disputes on long-term private finance initiative (PFI) projects remain a hot topic. Stemmed by local authorities taking a more aggressive stance towards performance deductions – presumably as a result of coming under their own budget pressures – this is often resulting in serial adjudications on the same project. The ‘energy from waste’ sector is also giving rise to some high-profile disputes, with often potentially game changing – and well-publicised – consequences for the contractors involved.
Ramsden: PFI and public-private partnership (PPP) projects for housing, transport, schools and hospitals continue to be a hotbed for disputes in the UK market. In the housing sector, cladding designers and contractors have been feeling the heat following the Grenfell tragedy, with a nationwide review of the fire safety of tall residential buildings giving rise to urgent remedial works. Abroad, rapid infrastructure development in the emerging economies continues to give rise to international arbitrations of an unprecedented scale, such as the ongoing Panama Canal arbitration over the US$5.5bn Panama Canal expansion project.
Jul-Sep 2018 issue
CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP
Norton Rose Fulbright LLP
Reed Smith LLP