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Zach concentrates his practice in construction-related disputes and specializes in complex domestic and international arbitration proceedings. He has advised clients on nearly every continent in connection with projects in the United States, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. Zach has represented owners, EPC contractors, and equipment manufacturers in disputes arising from a wide variety of construction projects including power plants, airports, commercial buildings, and other civil infrastructure works.

As published in Dispute Resolution Magazine, Volume 26, Issue 3, September 2020.

Imagine a complicated engineering and construction project that has lasted years and has already cost hundreds of millions of dollars. During the project, the contractor submitted dozens of claims for additional time and money – all of which the project’s owner has rejected. Amid mounting costs, claims from various subcontractors and suppliers boiling to the surface, and the threat of liquidated damages or even termination of the project, the contractor proceeds without receiving any relief from the owner. Although the parties have tried to resolve their disputes through negotiation and even mediation, they have not been able to reach an acceptable settlement. The contractor says it has incurred significant costs to perform the work and feels it is essentially funding the owner’s changes to the project. The owner, however, says the disputed issues are the contractor’s, not the owner’s risk. Accordingly, without a dispute resolution mechanism in place to resolve these disputes in real time, the costs continue to mount, and the prospect of a lengthy, expensive, and protracted arbitration or litigation looms.
Continue Reading Dispute Boards: An Approach to the Efficient Resolution of Disputes in the Construction Sector

On September 14, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit addressed the perennially thorny issue of whether the courts or arbitrators retain the authority to resolve questions involving the enforceability of arbitration agreements. In MZM Construction Company, Inc. v. New Jersey Building Laborers Statewide Benefits Funds,[1] the Third Circuit held that the courts must decide questions of arbitrability in cases where a party challenges the validity of the underlying contract that contains the arbitration agreement — even when the putative arbitration agreement refers these questions to the arbitrators. The court’s decision highlights the complexities associated with the enforcement of arbitration clauses and the limits to a party’s ability to compel arbitration.
Continue Reading Not So Severable After All: Third Circuit Lets Courts Determine Arbitration Agreement Existence When Underlying Contract’s Validity Is Challenged

Albert Bates and R. Zachary Torres-Fowler were published in gar insight with their article, “GAR Know How Construction Arbitration.”

This chapter summarizes issues commonly raised during international construction arbitrations seated in the United States or governed by U.S. laws. This chapter should be a useful resource for those seeking to better understand the

Published in Dispute Resolution Journal (June 2020, Vol. 74, No. 3), the flagship publication of the American Arbitration Association. © 2020, American Arbitration Association. It is reprinted here with permission.

EXCERPT:

“There is a deceptive simplicity about the way in which arbitral proceedings are conducted… In fact, the appearance conceals the reality.”

Introduction

Arbitration is simple. Parties select a person or persons — the arbitrator(s) — whose expertise or judgment they trust to resolve their differences in a privatized forum. After each party puts on their case, the arbitrator(s) consider the arguments and evidence and renders a binding decision.
Continue Reading Internationalizing Domestic Arbitration: How International Arbitration Practices Can Improve Domestic Construction Arbitration

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision on June 1 in GE Energy Power Conversion France SAS, Corp. v. Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC, holding that, in some circumstances, even nonsignatories to an agreement may invoke international arbitration. The Court ruled that the U.N. Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the New York Convention) did not prohibit the application of the U.S. doctrine of equitable estoppel to permit the enforcement of arbitration agreements by nonsignatories. In doing so, the Court clarified that the doctrine of equitable estoppel recognized under Chapter 1 of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) for U.S. domestic arbitrations could also be applied to international arbitration proceedings governed by Chapter 2 of the FAA.

For parties who regularly engage in multi-tiered international commercial arrangements like the kind seen in GE Energy, the ruling expands the reach of international arbitration agreements and gives those parties greater clarity into their own ability to utilize international arbitration to resolve complex disputes.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Interprets New York Convention to Allow Arbitration Agreement Nonsignatories to Invoke International Arbitration

Days after the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic, governments from around the world scrambled to enact measures aimed at mitigating the spread of the virus. In the United States, cities and states have enacted travel restrictions, issued shelter-in-place orders, and directed nonessential businesses to shutter. While all aimed at mitigating the spread of the virus, these measures will have an immense disruptive impact on businesses and industries around the world — the construction sector included.

As notices concerning force majeure, changes in law, and change orders swirl, parties should prepare themselves for how these disputes will be managed and resolved. The COVID-19 outbreak will rapidly reshape how the construction sector does business. This article offers our insight into just once facet of the construction industry: alternative dispute resolution and how the COVID-19 outbreak has and will affect construction disputes going forward.
Continue Reading ADR for Construction Disputes During COVID-19: How to Manage Dispute Resolution Before and After the Dust Settles

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend carefully choreographed arbitration schedules, parties, counsel and arbitrators have expressed interest in the use of video-conferencing technology to manage remote arbitration hearings. And while arbitration is no stranger to video conferencing, the arbitration community has never sought to utilize this technology on the scale being imagined today. As a result, counsel and arbitrators have clamored for guidance on how to effectively structure and manage remote arbitration proceedings.

This post seeks to introduce readers to the “Seoul Protocol on Video Conferencing in International Arbitration” as a potential resource. Released in March 2020, but developed long before the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Seoul Protocol offers a standard set of protocols that counsel and arbitrators may turn to for guidance on how to address some of the logistical challenges presented by remote arbitration hearings. While not directly applicable to all circumstances involving video hearings, and principally targeted at international arbitration practitioners, the Seoul Protocol offers helpful default standards that may be more widely applicable to streamline video-conference proceedings.

Some of the key features of the Seoul Protocol are summarized below.
Continue Reading The Seoul Protocol: Guidelines for Remote Arbitration Hearings During the COVID-19 Outbreak

With the signing of the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation in August 2019, there has been a newfound focus on how parties can improve and expand the use of alternative forms of dispute resolution outside conventional litigation and arbitration proceedings.  Pepper Hamilton attorneys Albert Bates and R. Zachary Torres-Fowler contributed

This article was published in Law360 on December 4, 2019. © Copyright 2019, Portfolio Media, Inc., publisher of Law360. It is republished here with permission.

On Nov. 21, the Queen Mary University of London School of International Arbitration, in partnership with the U.K.-based law firm Pinsent Masons LLP, released its ninth annual international arbitration survey focused on international construction disputes.

As a nod to the significance the construction industry plays in the field of international arbitration, the 2019 Queen Mary University survey marks the largest industry-specific survey its School of International Arbitration has ever conducted and offers insights that will undoubtedly be used for years to come.
While the survey data and accompanying report provide a granular level of analysis concerning a wide variety of topics, below are some of the key takeaways of interest to U.S. practitioners.

Continue Reading New International Arbitration Study Offers Construction Dispute Insight