Day one of FIDIC contract users' conference gets off to flying start

28 Nov 2023

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The first day of FIDIC’s 2023 International Contract Users’ Conference event in London on 28 November 2023 kicked off with a fireside chat discussion with Mark Wild, CEO of SGN, one of the UK’s largest gas distribution networks and the former CEO of Crossrail, Europe’s largest infrastructure programme.

In conversation with FIDIC’s CEO Dr Nelson Ogunshakin, Wild made an impassioned plea for effective client leadership on mega-projects and said that their input was crucial in ensuring that the industry had certainty of work and a pipeline that enabled companies to plan for the future.

Client leadership was important on mega-projects and the idea of ‘owning the whole’ was critical, said Wild but “Collaboration is vital, but it is not enough,” he said. Being able to see the “end state” ahead of time was a key role of successful clients on major projects and one that the industry needed to see more of, Wild said.

The discussion with Wild was followed by a conference session on Opening the FIDIC contracts toolbox, where attendees looked at how FIDIC contracts have responded to current challenges, including the pandemic, rising inflation and global conflict and political uncertainty. Next, a Going Underground session launched a reprint of the FIDIC Emerald Book and the publication of a new guide to its use. Both the reprint and the guide were updated and amended to take into account industry feedback.

The afternoon session took an in-depth look at the global use of FIDIC contracts in the company of speakers from Priscilla Torres Rossel, project procurement chief at the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Jan Jackholt, procurement director at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Simon Chirwa, practice manager at the World Bank and Thaís Chebatt, partner at Pinheiro Neto Advogados.

Another session on FIDIC contracts examined a diverse range of issues including design responsibility and fitness for purpose under FIDIC forms, the often-vexatious question of professional indemnity insurance and the variations under FIDIC forms. The first day concluded with the opportunity to quiz members of the FIDIC contracts committee on their work and future plans for new and updated contracts. This session saw a range of questions put to members of the committee and in truth could have gone on longer than the allotted 60 minutes.

With parallel discussion tables taking place on the use of the FIDIC White Book and Bronze Book, there was plenty to keep delegates busy at FIDIC’s annual event for its international community of contract users. With topical discussions on dispute avoidance, mega-projects, arbitration, latest case law developments and another delve into the FIDIC contracts toolbox, then day two promises to be just as interesting as the first.

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