Webinar: 2020 Online Annual Conference - Planning For The Unexpected

SCLHK’s flagship Annual Conference moved online in 2020, due to Covid-19. This was a series of 4 webinars held at 6pm on the dates stated below. This 2020 Annual Conference Series was kindly sponsored by ATKIN CHAMBERS, DES VOEUX CHAMBERS, EPIQ, KEATING CHAMBERS, 39 ESSEX CHAMBERS and 4 PUMP COURT CHAMBERS.

Unexpected events regularly occur during the life of a construction project. These may include accidents, unforeseen ground conditions or even force majeure events. Some of these events will have more severe consequences than others. The Annual Conference Series explored how these various unexpected events may impact a construction project, and how to plan for and mitigate such risks, particularly in a post Covid-19 world.



17 November 2020 – Session 1 – Force Majeure / Covid-19

A review and discussion of the contractual provisions and principles governing events of force majeure, including:

  • What is force majeure and how are such events defined under contract?
  • Potential consequences of force majeure events;
  • How has covid-19 affected the construction industry and what are the problems so caused?
  • How has contracting parties dealt with these problems caused by covid-19?

Chairperson: Sean Wilken QC, Keating Chambers

Speaker 1: James Howells QC, Atkin Chambers

Speaker 2: Jennie Wild, Keating Chambers

Speaker 3: Kaiser Leung / Ellen Pang, Des Voeux Chambers

[Speaker's Biographies - Session 1]

[Recorded Session 1]


19 November 2020 – Session 2 – Unforeseen ground conditions

A review and discussion of the common issues concerning unforeseen ground conditions, including:

  • Relevant contractual provisions;
  • Reliance on pre-contract ground survey report; Opportunity to conduct proper site inspection during tender stage;
  • The use of Geotechnical Baseline Reports and their potential problems in providing a realistic, measurable or meaningful baseline
  • Potential claims and defences arising from unforeseen ground conditions. 

Chairperson: Andrew Goddard QC, Atkin Chambers

Speaker 1: Colin Jesse

Speaker 2: Tom Henderson, Golder   

Speaker 3: Jessica Stephens QC, 4 Pump Court Chambers

[Speaker's Biographies - Session 2]

[Recorded Session 2]


24 November 2020 – Session 3 – Impossibility and frustration

A review and discussion of the availability of an argument that a contract or part thereof is impossible to perform, including:

  • What are the legal principles governing impossibility and frustration?
  • When would practical difficulty become an impossibility and how far should a contractor go in proving the impossible? 
  • Who pays for proving and constructing the impossible?
  • What are the potential consequences of impossibility and frustration?
  • Examples of cases where an impossibility argument was made;
  • Were such cases successful and what were the reasons for their success or failure?

Chairperson: James Leabeater QC, 4 Pump Court Chambers

Speaker 1: David Bateson, 39 Essex Chambers

Speaker 2: Stuart Catchpole QC, 39 Essex Chambers

Speaker 3: Eugenio Zoppis, Salini-Impregilo SpA

[Speaker's Biographies - Session 3]

[Recorded Session 3]


26 November 2020 – Session 4 – Insurance and bonds

A review and discussion of the common insurance issues in the construction industry, including:

  • Performance and on-demand bonds
  • Calling a bond and injunctions
  • Insuring for unforeseen risks in construction projects – what are the common issues and pitfalls contractors should be aware of?
  • Insurance for design liability by contractor or consultants
  • Settling claims under an insurance policy

Chairperson: John Scott SC, Des Voeux Chambers

Speaker 1: Julian Cohen, Gilt Chambers

Speaker 2: Iris Chan, Willis Towers Watson

Speaker 3: Mike Campbell-Pitt, McLarens

[Speaker's Biographies - Session 4]

[Recorded Session 4]