Few in the UK – or Europe for that matter – will have escaped news of a shrinking construction sector as public sector cuts across the continent look set to drastically reduce funding for public infrastructure projects. Reuters only last month was reporting a forecast 4% decrease in construction output in 2010
In the UK, the head of the National Audit Office (the body scrutinising public spending on behalf of Parliament) has called for a project-by-project review of future private finance initiative contracts, with stricter criteria being employed than in the last two years, to establish the most appropriate funding methods.

One of the most interesting aspects of working in different jurisdictions is seeing how different regions approach the same issues in different ways – both legally and commercially. An example of this in the context of PPP transactions, is the differing approach taken in the UK and the Middle East in respect the inclusion of delay liquidated damages regimes in Project Agreements.

The general principle is that subject only to the “fraud exception” claims for payment under Advance Payment Guarantees (“APGs”) and Performance Guarantees or Bonds (“PGs”) should be met on demand. The Courts have not been kind to those resisting payment, even when the claims are doubtful, potentially dishonest and/or clearly overstated.