On July 13th 2010 Brazilian Federal Government launched bidding documents regarding the concession regime and procedures for implementation and operation of the High-Speed Rail (TAV – Trem de Alta Velocidade) that will connect the cities of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Campinas. The project specifies that the construction, operation, and maintenance will be granted to the consortium that provides the lowest fare for service. The final schedule calls for the railway to be completed by 2017, although the Brazilian Federal Government anticipates the line will be partially open before the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. TAV is worth US 20 billion.

An acceleration of the drilling and construction of the Gotthard Base Tunnel over the past years has left its planners faced with the unusual prospect of the project being completed a year ahead of schedule. Work on the 57 km long railway tunnel through the Swiss alps, the longest in the world, was scheduled to be completed in 2017. However, following faster than anticipated progress in the excavation and construction of the tunnel, the consortium of companies responsible for the second phase of the works, the installation of the railway infrastructure, will propose the possibility of a 2016 hand-over date.

Disputes in the construction industry have historically lent themselves to the utilisation of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes. During the boom times of the late nineties and early noughties, parties to construction contracts focussed less on hard dollar contracts and strict legal claims, and more on relationship based contracting and dispute avoidance, such that reliance on more formal ADR fell away.

It seems there is no escaping the football. I’ve come to the FIDIC International Contract Users’ Conference 2010, being held in Beijing this week, for my routine update on the federation’s standard form publishing and training efforts. Now, one might expect that given China’s national team are not a feature of a certain international football tournament taking place in South Africa, Beijing might be the place to get away from the current hysteria gripping those among the human race who are privileged enough to have access to a television that screens the football. Well, for good or ill, one would be wrong.

The U.S. Supreme Court has been deciding cases regarding arbitration at (for them) a furious pace recently, and the latest decision (Rent-A-Center West, Inc. v. Jackson, 2010 WL 2471058 (June 21, 2010)) reconfirms the Court’s continued strong support for enforcing arbitration agreements as written, even where this deprives the courts of any significant role in…

Arbitration has long been established as a method of dispute resolution in the Middle East. In recent times, with the enormous economic growth experienced in the region, and the UAE’s liberal approach to foreign investment, the provision for solving disputes by arbitration has become even more prominent in commercial contracts, aided in part by the fact that it is the favoured method of resolving disputes under many standard form construction contracts.

Under both the contractual process and subsequent formal dispute resolution proceedings, contemporary records form a critical part of the evidence to be utilised in evaluating the contractual entitlement. The importance of good record keeping – by both contractors and employer’s agents or engineers—cannot be overstated.

Reviewing the wealth of commentary on the use of letters of intent in construction contracts, one might speculate that at the time the pyramids were being built some well-intentioned Egyptian lawyer was earnestly hammering out hieroglyphics warning his contemporaries of the potentially dire consequences of commencing construction works without a concluded contract in place. Nevertheless,…

The World Bank and IFC have recently reported that Russia’s current energy inefficiency is equal to the annual primary energy consumption of France. Indeed, the low local cost of energy, a mainly declarative legislation on environmental efficiency and little public interest have long kept Russia out of the global warming debate, and far away from the exotic issue of green buildings.

This trend is hopefully coming to an end with the recent enactment of a new law with compulsory requirements on energy saving and efficiency. This marks a clear ambition by Russian policymakers and will probably enhance the nascent interest in green buildings of the main players in the real estate industry, who were severely hit by the current crisis and seek new growth opportunities.