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France: Construction 2016

After a period of weak macroeconomic conditions, the fortunes of the domestic construction industry appear to be improving. France’s construction output grew steadily in 2015 thanks to the relaxation of government regulations and an increase in private investment. Emerging markets still present construction companies with business opportunities abroad; however, a slowdown is expected given the tenuous situation in China and Brazil at this moment in time. However, given the specialist nature of France’s practitioners, 2016 should see a continuation of their active work in the sector despite the negative conditions abroad. In this chapter, 10 leading practitioners are selected for inclusion. 

International law firm White & Case heads of our research with an impressive three listings. The firm’s construction practice advises clients on the full spectrum of construction-related needs from contractual administration to dispute resolution advice. Andrew de Lotbinière McDougall, the head of the firm’s disputes section in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, is famed for his “fantastic advocacy skills”, as well as his “ability to digest and manipulate large amounts of technically complex information from the various parties involved in the construction process”. Charles Nairac is a highly regarded practitioner in international construction law and arbitration. His primary focus is in the energy sector in which he is noted for his “significant high-profile industry experience” – he is currently representing a European construction company in ICC arbitration proceedings in relation to the construction of a hydroelectric project in Chile. The “esteemed” Christopher Seppälä is a seasoned practitioner who is noted for his “strong international practice” and his “outstanding insight and technical expertise” in construction law and international construction dispute resolution.

The Paris-based Bouckaert Ormen Passemard Sportes – BOPS has an “impressive” construction law practice. Clients repeatedly praise their “longstanding relationships with reputed experts” which ensures “fantastic service and results”. Romain Dupeyré enjoys a “sterling reputation” as an “acclaimed” arbitrator and litigator renowned for his significant expertise in contractual law, insurance matters and recovery proceedings.

Clyde & Co is represented in this chapter by the “distinguished” David Brown. Sources praise his “diligent handling” of international arbitral disputes and claims relating to the construction, infrastructure and energy sectors. More recently, he has been active in the burgeoning nuclear industry throughout Europe and the rest of the world.

Law Offices Elliott and Kearney is a small Paris-based boutique specialising in construction, oil and gas, engineering, rail, defence and electric power generation industries. Founding partner Derek Elliott has over 40 years of experience in the field of construction law and concessions and is praised by his peers for his “strong negotiation skills” and “careful attention to detail”. He is also a “seasoned arbitrator” with a particular focus on the construction and joint-ventures sectors.

Frilet – Société d'Avocats specialises in domestic and international construction projects, including infrastructure concessions and other PPP projects. The “outstanding” Marc Frilet is lauded for his “flexible and adaptive approach” and his “exceptional skillset” when carrying out due diligence work, and the drafting and negotiation of contracts.

Altana is an independent Paris-based law firm that advises some of France’s largest engineering companies on their prospective projects and their claims and disputes in the construction sector. Christophe Lapp heads the firm’s team and is renowned for having a “fantastic command of the classic issues involved in construction”. Sources are effusive in their praise of Lapp’s “technical expertise” and “superb attention to detail”.

US law firm Jones Day garners one inclusion in this chapter. Michael Bühler, a partner in the Paris office, is particularly proficient in international dispute resolution and complex arbitrations arising in the construction, energy, and oil and gas sectors. He is seen as a “dynamic and polished arbitrator” who is furnished with a “comprehensive understanding of the issues and technicalities of complex construction law” on the global stage.

At Three Crowns, Todd Wetmore is singled out as a “fantastic practitioner”. An active arbitrator in “high profile” cases in the construction and energy sector, Wetmore recently led a team handling disputes arising out of the construction of a nuclear power plant and he also defended substantial claims in the context of a joint-venture dispute relating to the development of a plant in Ukraine. Sources were particularly impressed with his “strategic approach” and his “deep understanding of construction and contract law”.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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W11 1QQ, UK