N. Plains Res. Council v. United States Army Corps of Eng’rs, No. 4:19-cv-00044-BMM, 2020 BL 35412 (9th Cir. May 14, 2020)

Oil and gas pipeline construction may no longer proceed under Nationwide Water Permit 12 (NWP 12). The Ninth Circuit, by way of a two-judge panel, denied challenges to a district court decision vacating NWP 12 and enjoining the United States Army Corps (Army Corps) from authorizing oil and gas pipeline construction projects pursuant to NWP 12. The Order, which was issued without an opinion, has national effect and set a briefing schedule for reconsideration of a motion for an administrative stay. N. Plains Res. Council v. United States Army Corps of Eng’rs, No. 4:19-cv-00044-BMM. Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Orders Enjoinment of Oil and Gas Line Construction Proceeding Under Nationwide Water Permit 12

On April 17, the California Court of Appeal decided Crosno Construction, Inc. v. Travelers Casualty & Surety Company of America,1 effectively narrowing the scope of enforceable “pay-when-paid” provisions in construction subcontracts to the extent the subcontractor seeks recovery against a general contractor’s payment bond surety. Although the Crosno case involved a public works project, the rationale and holding should apply with equal force to private works projects. Basing the bulk of its decision on the Wm. R. Clarke Corp. v. Safeco Insurance Co.2 case, the court found that an open-ended “pay-when-paid” provision in a subcontract is not enforceable against a subcontractor that seeks to recover on a public works payment bond claim. This article discusses the Crosno decision and the implications for contractors on both sides of the contract moving forward. Continue Reading California Appeals Court Provides Guidance on ‘Pay-When-Paid’ Provisions in Construction Subcontracts

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

On April 20, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf amended his March 19, 2020 Order Regarding the Closure of All Businesses That Are Not Life Sustaining. Under the previous order, construction was permitted to continue only if the business qualified as “life-sustaining” and was performing emergency repairs or if the business obtained a waiver.

The amended order paves the way for construction projects to start again throughout the Commonwealth. On April 23, Gov. Wolf announced that statewide construction can commence on May 1, 2020 and provided additional information related to the amended order in an accompanying document titled “Guidance for Businesses in the Construction Industry Permitted to Operate During the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency.” Gov. Wolf specified that the amended order applies to “all businesses in the construction industry in the Commonwealth, including those in new construction, renovation, and repair[.]” Prior to May 1, all construction industry businesses must continue to follow existing guidelines. A full list of businesses that may maintain in-person operations before May 1 can be found here. Continue Reading Pennsylvania Governor Paves Way to Reopen Construction on May 1

Much has been written about whether and how COVID-19 qualifies as a force majeure event, and some additional information can be found here. But typical force majeure provisions entitle contractors to only schedule relief. While force majeure clauses may limit exposure to liquidated or consequential damages for delays, contractors who incur increased costs resulting from COVID-19 related delays should carefully evaluate the entirety of their contractual rights to not only an extension of time, but also recover prolongation costs. To assist in this endeavor, this article looks beyond force majeure to other potentially relevant contractual provisions. Potential remedies under the various contractual clauses discussed below will depend on the specific contractual language and project-specific facts. Continue Reading COVID-19 and the Construction Industry: Looking Beyond Force Majeure to Recover Time and Costs for Delay

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 the Dispute Boards: A Different Approach to Dispute Resolution chapter to the 2020 Special Issue of The Comparative Law Yearbook of International Business. The chapter introduces the concept of “dispute boards,” a common dispute resolution method in the construction industry, to a wider audience.

The chapter explains how practitioners have used dispute boards within the construction industry to resolve complex construction disputes and explores how dispute board practices vary between jurisdictions and rules. The piece also examines whether disputes boards, a practice that is uniquely suited to the world of complex construction disputes, might be adapted to other forms of disputes and industries.

Read the full chapter: Dispute Boards: A Different Approach to Dispute Resolution

COVID-19 has created a severe disruption to the construction industry. Certain jurisdictions, including Boston, San Francisco and Pennsylvania, have placed restrictions on construction projects deemed “nonessential” and require waivers for certain projects to continue. Owners, contractors, suppliers and others may currently have more questions than answers. This article addresses some important concerns, and provides links to additional resources that more specifically address these concerns. Continue Reading COVID-19 and the Construction Industry: Important Considerations

This article was originally published in the April 2020 issue of ConsensusDocs Construction Law. It is republished here with permission.

State and local governments throughout the country continue to issue orders in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Many states have ordered the shutdown of all businesses, with various exceptions such as businesses that are “essential” and/or “life-sustaining.” Each jurisdiction has provided a list and/or guidance on what kinds of businesses must close and what can remain open. Pepper Hamilton continues to monitor these orders and update its “COVID-19 – State Business Impact Tracker” map, an interactive tool that shows shutdown orders by state. The Business Impact Tracker can be accessed at https://covid19.pepperlaw.com/.

Whether construction projects can continue is an ever-changing issue. In some jurisdictions, such as Boston, all construction projects were shut down. In other locations, whether construction can continue may depend on the county, or even city, where the project is located and/or the type of project. However, those supplying labor, materials and/or equipment to construction projects should closely monitor how their projects are being impacted, including whether and when to exercise statutory remedies available, e.g., ‘ lien, stop payment notice and/or bond rights. In many states, the statutory deadlines to assert these rights are triggered by “completion” of a project. Continue Reading Continuous Cessation of Labor on Construction Projects Can Trigger Statutory Remedy Deadlines

This article was originally published on December 3, 2019 on ConsensusDocs. It is reprinted here with permission.

Construction contracts often include a “no damage for delay” clause that denies a contractor the right to recover delay-related costs and limits the contractor’s remedy to an extension of time for noncontractor-caused delays to a project’s completion date. Depending on the nature of the delay and the jurisdiction where the project is located, the contractual prohibition against delay damages may well be enforceable. This article will explore whether an enforceable no-damage-for-delay clause is also a bar to recovery of “acceleration” damages, i.e., the costs incurred by the contractor in its attempt to overcome delays to the project’s completion date.
Continue Reading Does a No-Damage-for-Delay Clause Also Preclude Acceleration Damages?