Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The Society of Construction Law: Mark Woodward Smith

The Society of Construction Law has issued a draft second edition of the Delay and Disruption Protocol, 14 years after the first edition was issued. Back then, its aim was ambitious. It was that, in time, “most contracts will adopt the Protocol’s guidance as the best way to deal with delay and disruption issues”.

 It stated that the number of disputes could be reduced if there was a transparent and unified approach to the programme and the site records. It contained a great deal of detail about the way a programme should be prepared and gave a preferred method of delay analysis - time impact analysis - identifying the shortcomings with other methods. Although it stated this would only work if network programmes and sufficient records had been maintained throughout the project, as recommended by the protocol. On keeping records, it recommended agreeing up front what these should be: differentiating between small and medium to high value/high complexity projects.

It was subject to some criticism at the time as:

 A charter for programming experts (with its preferred (considered to be expensive) method of delay analysis)

Administratively onerous and unrealistic regarding records and
Not worth the paper it was written on as it was not and should never be a contract document.

Has its aim to reduce disputes been realised?

Much has changed in the world of construction claims since 2002. There appears to be no fewer disputes but the method of resolving them has changed dramatically. Adjudication is firmly embedded as the forum of choice. In 2002 it was in its infancy. It is therefore arguably cheaper to deal with disputes on delay and disruption now than it was pre-2002. Have parties embraced recommendations on transparency and detail of programming and records? Contractors remain suspicious as it is not often apparent what the upside is for them. The idea of agreeing at the start of a contract which records will form the basis of a claim may not start the project on the right foot.

The protocol has not changed the atmosphere of “claim and defend” in certain standard forms of contract, although much has been done with different forms of procurement involving a more collaborative approach.

In fact, as well as giving that guidance, the protocol stated general legal principles of delay and disruption claims in relation to concurrent delay: global claims, ownership of float; relevance of tender allowances in assessing compensation, to name just a few. It also contained a good glossary of “claims terminology”. 

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Find out about a typical day for Senior Contracts Consultant

What work do you do for Systech?
Looking at change is a big part of what I do - what changed (if anything), why it changed, what the effects of that change were. Once that’s done, the next step is to be able to explain the change to someone else, sometimes with an analysis of the contract, sometimes with a Gantt chart, sometimes with a table.

What is your typical day?
No such thing really - an assignment might last a while, but you never know what you are going to be presented with which is quite exciting.

What are the interesting aspects of your work?
 Problem solving - working out how to get someones trust, how to validate evidence you’ve been given, how to deal with with a change, how best to tell the story that explains how you are, where you are and where you’re going next.

What are the challenges?
We tend to be involved in some quite difficult projects, and working out the current status can sometimes be hard work - particularly when you’re also trying to manage things that are still happening.

What training and support has Systech given you?
Working with Systech has given me exposure to all sorts of projects and assignments that I would never have had working somewhere less dynamic. Additionally, Systech puts a lot of effort into developing in house resources from experiences from past projects.

What words of advice would you offer someone thinking of working for Systech?
If you like to be challenged, you won’t look back.

What is the culture like?
Friendly and professional. Everyone wants to do the best job possible, but there’s time to talk and to have a personal life too.

What makes working for Systech different from the competition?
Systech has all the knowledge, skills, resources, and expertise that a main contractor might need. Importantly, Systech can help main contractors in many ways, for example by seconding someone to work for them full time on their project, or just providing an individuals expertise when needed from the team in the Systech office, in the UK or internationally.

What has been your greatest achievement working for Systech?
The most satisfying one was drafting an extension of time narrative where the end client had staunchly refused to accept any responsibility for delay. On collecting and validating evidence from a number of sources, I was able to present an explanation of the main way in which the client had caused overall delay whilst backing this up with a number of other delays to bolster the main argument. The main contractor got the extension of time if needed.

Tell us about a project where you have learnt a key lesson?

I was working as Project Controls Manager on a project in Siberia, in an organisational structure where project resources were shared across departments with multiple priorities. I saw the subtle need for ensuring that there were sufficient, properly aligned resources available to every level of the project team.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Mark Woodward-Smith, Group Managing Director UK & Europe

Systech International Strengthens Management Team

Systech International is pleased to announce two senior management appointments;

Jason Palmer in Manchester and Louis Cointreau in Paris.

Jason Palmer

Jason joined the business in March 2015, has been promoted to an Associate
Director and he will take responsibility for the development of our services
in the UK north, based from our office in Manchester. Jason previously held
Commercial Director roles at Galliford Try and Balfour Beatty.

Louis Cointreau

Louis joined the business on 11 January as our Deputy Country Manager for
France. Louis was previously with Technip, Alstom Grid and Areva, where
he was Contract Manager on a number of oil and gas and nuclear power
plant projects. He is bilingual in French and English and has a good working
proficiency in Spanish.

Mark Woodward-Smith, Group Managing Director UK & Europe, says
 “I am delighted with our appointments of Jason and Louis and I look forward to working with them in their new roles. The experience and expertise they have gained whilst working for contractors on major projects will benefit our clients as well as our consultant teams for which they will be responsible. They join our strong management team which is ideally placed to grow the business over the coming years offering a range of co-ordinated services to our contractor client base”.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016


Claims Consultant and Contract Manager Cillian O'Connell talks about relocating from London to Canada to work on a major power transmission project, and the opportunities the country has to offer. Click here! https://www.academia.edu/26948011/Cilian-O-Connell-Canada-markwoodwardsmith.pdf