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Construction Law International - March 2020 - From the Co-Chairs

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Dear International Construction Projects Committee members,

1 January 2020 marked not only the end of a decade and the beginning of a new year; it also marked the official end of our two-year term and change in leadership of the International Construction Projects Committee (ICP) (though unofficially this is traditionally done during the IBA Annual Conference every second year). As in the past, the Vice-Chairs have assumed the roles so your new Co-Chairs are Ricardo E Barreiro-Deymonnaz of Buenos Aires and Shona Frame of Glasgow. Many of you already know them from their long history of activity in the ICP; others may have met them at past IBA Annual Conferences, ICP Working Weekends, and other IBA conferences and events. If not, we urge you to attend our conferences and events to meet them personally and share your thoughts, ideas and vision for the ICP so you can contribute and help to make the ICP more valuable to all members.

It has been our pleasure to have worked closely with Ricardo and Shona over the past few months to ensure a smooth and seamless leadership transition. There can be no doubt that the ICP is in very good hands. We’d also like to acknowledge and thank not only Ricardo and Shona, but all the other officers of the ICP for their considerable time, assistance and support over the past two years in making all our programmes and events so successful, especially at two Annual Conferences, the Biennial Conference on Construction Projects from Conception to Completion in Berlin in October last year, the Biennial Conference of the Section on Energy, Environment, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Law (SEERIL) in Lisbon in April 2018, and our Working Weekends in Amsterdam in 2018 and in Athens last year. And, of course, none of this would have been possible without the active support and help of so many of our ICP members.

Other than conferences, what has been accomplished? Well, over the past two years our subcommittees have been active in identifying and pursuing initiatives that we trust will prove to be of benefit to all ICP members. The Project Establishment Subcommittee has been compiling and expanding materials presented at the 2019 Working Weekend in Athens on the use of new technologies in construction, procurement and supply-chain management, which should be available in the near future. The Project Execution Subcommittee has been working on The Anti-corruption Ready Reckoner and an accompanying compendium that address anti-corruption issues specific to the construction industry and should be published within the next year. The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Subcommittee has published a Country Guide to ADR (for procurement and construction disputes), which includes 19 countries and is in the process of being expanded to include more countries (it can be obtained by searching for the title on the IBA website). Anyone interested in volunteering to assist in those endeavours, or who has ideas for other initiatives that will prove useful to all ICP members, is encouraged to let the officers of those subcommittees know (their contact information is available on the ICP pages of the IBA website).

Speaking of new technologies and methods in construction, during our ICP Working Weekend in Athens we were privileged to have Professor Theodosis Tassios as a keynote speaker to demonstrate convincingly that some of our ‘new’ ideas prove the old adage that ‘everything old is new again’! His entertaining and interesting presentation included an account of contracting practices used by the ancient Greeks in the construction of the Parthenon, including not only the use of funded design competitions and separate, funded contractor proposals, but also the use of forms of contract we see today, including lump sum contracts, unit price contracts, and liquidated damages for delay and non-performance. Hopefully, we’ll soon see a new book published by Professor Tassios that will reveal other old methods long forgotten that may become ‘new’ today.

Work has been progressing well at organising the next ICP Working Weekend from 15–17 May this year in Vevey, Switzerland. The main purpose of the Working Weekend, organised exclusively by the ICP and not through the IBA, is to hold a meeting of ICP officers to discuss and plan ICP business. Attendance has traditionally been limited to about 50 attendees, with priority given to existing and past officers of the ICP and the balance allocated to reflect differing legal regimes and regional, ethnic and gender diversity, giving preference where possible to those who first expressed their interest to attend immediately after the ICP business session at the end of the IBA Annual Conference each year. Several spots are always reserved for new members to welcome them to ICP. Unfortunately, by the time this issue of CLInt is published the invitation list will have been closed so anyone interested in attending in 2021 should make sure that they attend the IBA Annual Conference this year in Miami so they know when and where the 2021 Working Weekend will be held and can be among the first to email their interest to receive an invitation.

In the meantime, the ICP is working with the other committees of the Section on Energy, Environment, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Law (SEERIL) on the next Biennial Conference of the SEERIL, which is scheduled for 15–18 April in Marrakesh, Morocco. The programme theme is ‘Development in an era of decarbonisation: legal challenges for industrialised and developing economies’. Please refer to the IBA website as more details of the programme become finalised.

It has come to our attention that some ICP members were not aware of calls for expressions of interest or notices of upcoming conferences until it was too late for them to participate. In the past we were able to issue such requests and notices proactively through ICP-Net, which automatically sent out notices to everyone who signed up for ICP-Net. Unfortunately, this feature is no longer available and the onus has shifted to ICP members to be proactive and to access ICP-Net themselves through the IBA website using the following link: www.ibanet.org/LPD/SEERIL/Intl_Construction_Projects/ICP_terms_of_use. Until a new system is developed by the IBA to allow postings and threads to automatically be pushed out to all members, everyone is strongly encouraged to periodically log on to the IBA website (at least once a week) to ensure they are aware of all notices from the ICP of upcoming events and requests for expressions of interest. At the same time, it is hoped they will take the opportunity to take part in discussions on ICP-Net, whether to post questions, answers or otherwise contribute to discussions on ICP-Net.

In closing this, our last column, we’d like to thank all writers, editors and readers of CLInt over the past two years for continuing to make it one of the most successful newsletters of the IBA. To show your support of these efforts, please circulate your copies, and articles from CLInt, as widely as possible within your firm and other organisations to which you belong. Hopefully, the value they see in the articles will encourage them to submit their own articles as well as to become members of the ICP and the IBA.

Thank you for the honour of having been given the opportunity to serve you over the past two years.

 

Helmut Johannsen and Jaime Gray

ICP Co-Chairs 2018–2019