REUTERS | Ruben Sprich

In Kazakh mythology, the great phoenix Samruk laid a golden egg between the branches of a poplar tree and became a symbol of prosperity and happiness for the people of these lands. High above Astana’s beautifully symmetric cityscape, this symbol has been immortalised atop the capital’s viewing platform, the Baiterek Tower.

Having identified some of the key features of the AIFC and its court in my previous article, I intend to take up the birds-eye vantage point of the Samruk and consider some of the interesting facets of the new rules governing the AIFC court’s proceedings. This is not intended to be a comprehensive review of the procedural rules, but merely an introductory insight into some of their distinctive or important features. Continue reading


Two recent cases, one in the Court of Appeal, the other in the Supreme Court, have created significant uncertainty around the acceptability of email service. It seems that there may now be a disparity between the CPR and the Party Wall Act 1996, despite the similarities in the wording of the relevant provisions for the two regimes. Continue reading

REUTERS | Pascal Rossignol

To date, direct procurement has gained varying degrees of traction in the offshore and onshore electricity, water and rail sectors. In our two previous blogs, we explored what the world of direct procurement may look like in the future and the appetite of equity investors to commit to this new model.

A necessary ingredient

This blog, the third in our direct procurement series, focuses on another fundamentally important aspect of the success (or otherwise) of the direct procurement model – the appetite of debt providers to participate in the new regime. Debt forms an integral part of the capital structure and without it there is no value gain for equity in most investment propositions. Direct procurement may never get off the ground if equity and debt considerations cannot be reconciled. Continue reading

REUTERS | Gilles Adt

Some judgments seem destined to be blogged about (at least by me) and Baldwin v J Pickstock Ltd is one such judgment. It’s all about the adjudicator’s decision (or lack of), whether there was an extension of time for reaching that decision and whether the adjudicator had properly resigned and should be paid for the work he did (even though he did not reach a decision). It’s not quite Cubitt Building & Interiors v Fleetglade, but it does demonstrate how adjudicators need to be alive to banana skin tactics, even those coming from the referring party! Continue reading

REUTERS | Shamil Zhumatov

Ambitions for Astana

There is a rising chorus of excitement among international practitioners in London. It centres upon the creation of the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) and its court (AIFC court) in the Kazakh capital, which became fully operational in January 2018.

In this post, I consider some of the key features of the new AIFC court and some questions that may arise in the near future about its operation. Given the fact that the legal architecture of the AIFC and its new court are purported to be based on the “Dubai model” of the DIFC, with the assistance of advisers from the Emirate, it may be profitable to make comparisons with the foundational Law No.10 of 2004 (DIFC court law) and I do so where relevant. Further consideration will be given to the procedural code adopted for the AIFC court in a subsequent post. Continue reading

REUTERS | Ina Fassbender

Construction disputes, whether they arise from inadequate welding in offshore installations or bubbling paint, frequently revolve around the question of whether part of the works carried out has a “defect“. We rarely stop to consider when drafting construction contracts how, legally, we can define inadequate or non-conforming work, despite the fact that ambiguity often leads to intractable disputes. Continue reading

REUTERS | Rafael Marchante

Unless you have been hiding under a rock (or have been on holiday somewhere), you can’t have failed to notice that Coulson J has handed down his last substantive TCC judgment. So much has already been written about Grove v S&T and what it means for the construction industry that there’s barely been room for anything else on my Twitter and LinkedIn feeds. There really is nowhere to hide from all the commentary.

However, I make no apology for adding to the already voluminous commentary because the case is of such importance. I don’t agree with those that consider the case spells the end for smash and grab adjudications, and I want to focus on a point that doesn’t really seem to have been covered in great detail by others, namely what the judgment means in terms of parties having to pay up (and pay up before any merits-based adjudication takes place).
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For several years now, two stage tendering – and with it the use of Pre-Construction Services Agreements (PCSAs) – has been the normal procurement route for major building projects, at least in the London commercial market. The June 2016 referendum vote was widely expected to mark a watershed and to herald a shift back towards a single stage approach, but in our experience that simply has not happened. Main contractors continue to be risk averse and will routinely decline to bid on a single stage basis, other than for “most favoured” clients. Carillion’s recent collapse has only brought the problem into sharper focus and has highlighted the dangers of bidding for work without a full appreciation of the risks involved.

Although widely used, there has until now been little judicial consideration of PCSAs and how they operate in practice. So Jefford J’s recent decision in Almacantar (Centre Point) Ltd v Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd is both welcome and of particular interest. Continue reading

REUTERS | Rupak De Chowdhuri

When I sat down to write this week’s blog, we hadn’t had a published judgment on an adjudication case for a few weeks. That may have changed with Coulson J’s last TCC judgment, which came out today, but I’m leaving that one for Jonathan next week. Instead, you get a short piece on something I feel quite strongly about – adjudicator mentoring. Continue reading

REUTERS | Faisal Al Nasser

Do long-term contracts need to be construed in a particular way? Do contracts that require the parties to work together and cooperate over a period of many years have their own special rules? Do they demand special treatment when it comes to questions of contractual interpretation?

Those are some of the questions raised by the judgment in Amey Birmingham Highways Ltd v Birmingham City Council, in which the Court of Appeal had to grapple with the complexities and oddities of a PFI contract. Continue reading