Big Project ME September 2019

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international collaboration by way of partnerships, joint ventures and consortia. Electing for arbitration as a means of dispute resolution, depending on the bargaining power of the negotiating parties, may provide a multitiered dispute resolution clause. This obliges all parties to engage in amicable settlement discussions or mediation prior to commencing arbitration, which forces them to make an effort to resolve a dispute before commencing costly formal dispute resolutions procedures. Be wary, however, of crafting complex, multi-tiered dispute resolution clauses. They can be difficult to comply with, giving the respondent party in any ensuing arbitration the opportunity to contest the arbitration on the basis that pre-conditions to arbitration have not been complied with. A well-written contract with a focus on contract administration can help prevent a dispute altogether. Transparent contracts tailored to the particular demands of the project and contracting parties can mitigate many of the risks associated with construction projects. They should clearly outline how progress is to be measured against agreed key performance indicators. Clear terms should be agreed to allocate responsibility for time delays and stipulate consequences. Bear in mind that UAE law permits a court or tribunal to amend any agreed liquidated damages clause retrospectively, to equal the loss suffered. On the occurrence of a dispute, close attention must be paid to the mechanics of the dispute resolution clause agreed, avoiding lengthy and costly jurisdiction challenges. Selecting the right arbitrators for nomination, with the appropriate industry expertise to deal expeditiously with the dispute, is crucial. Essentially, specialists with in-depth knowledge of UAE law will navigate the dispute resolution process, pursuing meaningful relief for claimant contractors while vigorously acting for defendants resisting ill-founded claims. Although the legal landscape is evolving and the prevalence of arbitration as the preferred method of resolving disputes is growing, there are market elements that remain unchanged. Project delays, cash flow and loose contract administration continue to be risk factors which developers, contractors and suppliers should and can foresee and prepare for. Those with solid contract administration and record-keeping throughout the project have a head start in any ensuing dispute. Joanne Strain is a partner at King & Wood Mallesons. September 2019 |


Innovation in action at the Oracle Construction & Engineering Innovation Lab


here has been a perception that construction is lagging other industries in terms of digitisation, but that is changing as more and more builders embrace digital transformation to improve operations and stay competitive. Innovation is indeed alive and well in engineering and construction. Yes, paper-based processes and manual approaches to some activities still exist, but the technology innovations and venture investments in the industry are staggering and make this an exciting time to be involved. As the industry continues to battle against low productivity, resulting in projects running over budget and over time, an increasing number of organisations are turning to technology to transform both their business systems and their processes, as well as their approach to projects. We’re seeing a flow of investment coming into the industry and more constructionfocused start-ups looking to capitalise on this lucrative, solution-thirsty space. This combination is fuelling a rise in technology solutions that target specific challenges facing construction and engineering. This is all happening against a backdrop of transformative technological change at the macro level, with 5G on the horizon, the rise of wearables and a raft of new IoT devices offering greater and more sophisticated capabilities than ever before. When you add to the mix increasing access

to and importance of data – both managing and analysing it – it’s no surprise that this excitement is accompanied by confusion and trepidation. There’s just so much change that it’s difficult for decision-makers to truly know what to look into, and it’s even more challenging to understand what to adopt and why. Justifying budget spend on technology solutions becomes increasingly complex when you multiply the options available by a factor of 10 or even 100 – especially if they have no precedent and are completely different to anything experienced before. A DESTINATION FOR CONSTRUCTION TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS That was part of the thought process behind the Oracle Construction and Engineering Innovation Lab outside Chicago in the US. This unique facility is designed to accelerate efforts to help project- and asset-intensive organisations explore the latest technologies and drive digital transformation in a familiar and credible work-site environment. Input from several Oracle Construction and Engineering customers, as well as technology providers, shaped the vision for the Innovation Lab. The indoor/outdoor facility integrates sophisticated technology into a simulated job-site with girders, concrete-block walls, industrial fencing, gravel underfoot and a double-wide trailer housing cloud systems that display and analyse data transmitted from the solutions outside on the site. It enables project delivery professionals to interact with leading-edge solutions, including connected devices, autonomous vehicles, drones, augmented reality, visualisation and artificial intelligence tools, to see what’s possible to put to work right now. The Innovation Lab is a living showcase providing hands-on experiences within a simulated connected work-site, powerfully bringing to life the performance improvements

The success of the Innovation Lab is that it’s open to partners with many of the best and brightest construction technology solutions available”