Stuart Wilks

The Decipher Podcast

The Decipher Podcast: The Future of Construction

An Interview with Bill Bordill

In the episode of the Decipher podcast series, Bill Bordill discusses his time at Hewitt Decipher Partnership and his thoughts on the future of the construction industry.

Bill heads the Quantum team at the firm and has been with the business for over 11 years. He talks to Annie about the importance of developing people, some of the great team members at Hewitt Decipher Partnership, and the criticality of ensuring the future of construction’s skillset. Bill also picks up on some career highlights.

Alternatively you can find the podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.


energy disputes

Disputes in the Energy Sector: Problems, Disputes and Solutions

Claims and disputes are a fact of life in the energy sector. With the highly complex nature of energy projects, things are bound to go wrong. However, that doesn’t always mean disaster.

Being prepared will make it far less likely you will end up in a formal dispute. And even if you do face a dispute, if you are prepared, the dispute is much more likely to be resolved or settle early.

Latest reports show that the average dispute costs in the order of £22m and takes around fifteen months to resolve. That’s fifteen months of very involved work with lawyers and experts. When you are running a large energy dispute, the legal and expert costs can easily reach around £250k per month. This highlights the scale of the complexity and cost.

What are the Problems?

Whilst every project is different, there are common issues we see time and time again. Parties often try to renegotiate the terms of the contract during the project. We find misunderstandings around termination rights, payment and cost overruns, poor workmanship, unsubstantiated claims which damage relationships. There is often a failure to administer contract or understand and abide by contractual obligations. These are just a few of the issues we see regularly!

What Can be Done to Avoid Energy Disputes?

First things first, parties need to be sure they understand the contract. Even when faced with a limited negotiating position, understanding your risks will allow you manage them. The techniques to avoid disputes are often enshrined in the contract. It is critical to understand your obligations properly, and manage claims and disputes throughout the lifecycle of the project.

When you spot a dispute on the horizon, even if you believe it to be a straightforward claim, consider bringing experts and legal advisers on board early. Their advice is useful and can help you understand your rights to avoid you compromising your legal position. You may think you are saving money by handling things in-house. However, expertise, even when pricey, can save you a lot in the long run. When you bring the team on later, you may find mistakes have been made in the handling of claims. Years into a dispute, nobody wants to hear that things could have been done better.

Another tip is to take the dispute away from those directly involved. This can help remove the temptation to bring blame or emotion into the process. An impartial team handling the dispute can allow it to be resolved without emotion, in a practical and commercially sensible way.

Project Records and Witnesses are Key

Throughout the project, be sure that you preserve documents – even the ones that don’t put you in the best light. It is said time and time again by those managing disputes, but records really are key. You will be repeatedly asked for contemporaneous documents. When it comes to the disclosure stage, problems often occur. Late disclosure of documents can change the risk profile of the dispute – for better or worse.

Witnesses of fact need to be spoken to early. Make sure they still remember what took place and that you get copies of any documents in their possession. Individuals often move on to a new role at the end of a project. When this happens, they will naturally forget what happened on your project or may have deleted or lost track of important records.

Energy disputes are expensive, long term and a huge diversion from your real job. If you can, try to avoid them or nip them in the bud. Get your team ready early so you can plan and prepare appropriately.

This article is based on a talk given by Theresa Mohammed of Trowers & Hamlins at a recent Hewitt Decipher webinar. You can view the recording of the event here.


Energy Power Station

Energy Projects and Disputes - Webinar & Recording

Hewitt Decipher Partnership hosted a webinar focussing on energy projects, risks and disputes. Paul Gibbons, Andy Hewitt and Tom Francis of HDP join Theresa Mohammed of Trowers & Hamlins, Philip Boulding QC of Keating Chambers and John Shenton of Hitachi, for a look at energy projects, the risks and contractual / commercial challenges that might arise from disputes in the energy sector.

Speakers:

  • Tom Francis – our head of project controls and delay expert will look at some of the challenges faced in analysing and proving delay on energy projects.
  • John Shenton – Contract Manager at Hitachi ABB examines the inside perspective from live projects and his work at Hitachi.
  • Theresa Mohammed – Solicitor at Trowers and Hamlins, gives a legal perspective. What does the law say and how does it work?
  • Philip Boulding QC of Keating Chambers looks at disputes and international arbitration.

A full write-up will follow shortly, but for now, the recording of the session is available to watch: