Contracts of infrastructure projects in Qatar include arbitration clauses to address disputes, says QICCA’s Dr Sheikh Thani bin Ali

19-02-2024

The Qatar International Centre for Conciliation and Arbitration (QICCA) at the Qatar Chamber recently organized a seminar titled “The Role of Arbitration as a Means of Settling Disputes in Contracting and Construction,” in the presence of QICCA’s board member for International Relations, HE Sheikh Dr Thani bin Ali Al Thani.

The seminar was delivered by Dr. Mohamed Sameh Amr, Dean of the Faculty of Law at Cairo University, Professor of Public International Law at the Faculty of Law, Cairo University, and Founder and Managing Partner of Amr & Partners Law Firm.

Addressing the seminar, HE Dr. Sheikh Thani emphasized the QICCA’s commitment to promoting the culture of arbitration. He highlighted the centre’s efforts in organizing seminars and workshops aimed at fostering the use of arbitration as an alternative method for resolving disputes.

Sheikh Thani pointed to the major infrastructure projects undertaken by Qatar over the past 15 years, particularly in the development of infrastructure and preparation for hosting the 2022 World Cup. He noted that some challenges and disputes inevitably arose during the execution of these contracts, asserting that all contracts included the use of arbitration as an alternative means for resolving disputes.

During the seminar, Dr. Mohamed Sameh Amr reviewed several topics including the definition and types of construction contracts, the causes of disputes, efforts to overcome the difficulties of settling such disputes, the fundamental advantages of arbitration in construction contracts, the differences between arbitration and alternative dispute resolution methods, and the arbitration procedures in settling construction disputes.

He also discussed the terms and challenges of multilateral arbitration in construction contracts, the procedures for implementing the multilateral arbitration clause, the possibility of combining mediation and arbitration systems in settling construction disputes, and the outcomes of combining mediation and arbitration systems in resolving construction disputes.

Dr. Amr also highlighted that arbitration disputes in construction contracts are considered among the most common in arbitration, especially in countries witnessing a surge in development and infrastructure projects.

Elaborating on the advantages of arbitration in construction contracts, he highlighted that they include flexibility and speed of proceedings, confidentiality, the possibility to select arbitrators with expertise in the subject matter of the dispute, and the preservation of commercial relationships.

Regarding the nature of these disputes, Dr Amr indicated that they cannot be postponed and are often governed by the terms of a unified contracting contract for construction projects such as FIDIC. Additionally, these disputes may involve multiple foreign parties and require significant capital.

Regarding the types of construction contracts, he said that they are divided into engineering, procurement, and construction contracts (EPC Contracts), build-operate-transfer contracts (BOT), build-own-operate-transfer contracts (BOOT), and public-private partnership contracts (PPP).

As per cost calculation and means of reimbursement, he indicated that construction contracts are classified into Lump-sum contracts, Measurement & Value contracts, and Cost-plus fee contracts.

He also highlighted reasons of disputes in construction contracts, which include the complexity of the project and its numerous variables, some technical issues, financing problems requiring additional funding from banks, and the necessity to restructure the project (in terms of time, cost, and implementation method) to accommodate unforeseen variables that may arise due to the employer’s requests or changes (Variation Orders).

The reasons also include the need to change the technology used in the project, the use of substances that do not conform to specifications, delays in implementation, malfunctions in manufacturing, and adjustments in the terms of the original contract between the employer and the main contractor, which may necessitate adjustments to the terms of the subcontractor’s contract.

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