In June this year, FIDIC published five standard construction contracts in Chinese. The aim is to foster greater awareness and understanding of FIDIC contracts in the PRC construction sector, for both outbound and domestic projects. The recent publication includes four 2017 editions and one 2008 edition of FIDIC standard forms:

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COVID-19: FIDIC Contracts – Is FM the right answer?

Many of the international construction projects that we have been advising on since February this year have been impacted to varying extents and at different times by a range of COVID-19 related matters, including personnel on sick or isolation leave, governmental or local authority travel restrictions including tighter visa requirements and quarantine rules, factory closures, border closures and export restrictions.  Some contractors have repatriated site personnel back to their home country out of fears for their health and safety, whether in accordance with their government’s recommendations or simply following their corporate health and safety policies.

Invariably the focus is initially on whether force majeure relief applies.  Under English law, force majeure is a creature of contract, not law, so the application of relief will depend on the precise wording of the contract as applied to the facts.

Where contracts are based on the FIDIC forms, however, while the temptation may be to head straight for the Force Majeure clause at Sub-Clause 19 (termed “Exceptional Events” at SC18 in the 2017 edition), there are a number of other likely candidates that also need to be considered.  They all provide varying degrees of protection, but only Force Majeure entitles a party to terminate the Contract for prolonged Force Majeure.  It is therefore important to undertake a careful analysis of the facts and the contract terms to ensure that claims are legally sound.

Emma Schaafsma looks at the points for consideration in her article here.


Emma Schaafsma
Emma Schaafsma
Partner, Dispute Resolution
+44 20 7466 2597

GAR Guide to Construction Arbitration now available to download, including chapter on ‘Construction Arbitration and Turnkey Projects’ by HSF’s James Doe, David Nitek and Noe Minamikata

London-based Construction & Infrastructure Disputes Partners, James Doe and David Nitek, and Professional Support Lawyer, Noe Minamikata, have authored the chapter on ‘Construction Arbitration and Turnkey Projects’ in the third edition of Global Arbitration Review’s Guide to Construction Arbitration.

The Guide to Construction Arbitration is an in-depth review of construction disputes internationally – from preparing contracts and guarantees, to setting up dispute boards, organising arbitration proceedings, analysing documents and evidence, and navigating within particular industries and regions.

This guide is the only book that offers a detailed discussion and commentary on both the principal features of international construction contracts and the dispute resolution methods they typically contain, with chapters addressing key issues in the following general topics:

  1. International Construction Contracts
  2. Dispute Resolution for Construction Disputes
  3. Select Topics on Construction Arbitration
  4. Regional Construction Arbitration

Herbert Smith Freehills’ chapter, ‘Construction Arbitration and Turnkey Projects’ is available to download as a PDF. The full guide can be accessed online at: The Guide to Construction Arbitration – Third Edition

For more information, please contact James Doe, David Nitek, Noe Minamikata or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

Accreditation: An extract from the third edition of GAR’s The Guide to Construction Arbitration, first published in October 2019. The whole publication is available at

James Doe
James Doe
Partner and UK Head of Construction & Infrastructure Disputes, London
+44 20 7466 2583
David Nitek
David Nitek
Partner, London
+44 20 7466 2453
Noe Minamikata
Noe Minamikata
Professional Support Lawyer, London
+44 20 7466 2838