Strategic Research Sponsor of the American Bar Association's Section of International Law
Roger ter Haar QC
Office:
2 Crown Office Row
Temple
EC4Y 7HJ
City:
London
Country:
England
Tel:
+44 20 7797 8100
Fax:
+44 20 7797 8101

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Construction

Roger ter Haar QC is an English QC who has been in practice for 40 years. He has a wide practice as arbitrator and counsel which includes insurance, reinsurance, professional negligence and general commercial work in addition to his core construction law practice. His publications include Construction Insurance & UK Construction Contracts (co-editor), Emden’s Construction Law (contributor), The Guide to Construction Arbitration (contributor) and Remedies in Construction Law (author).

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO ENTER THE LEGAL PROFESSION?

Like many young entrants, I had dreams of promoting justice, but having started in the profession I found the interaction of intellectual problems with the ups and downs of the human condition fascinating: even in major construction disputes it is very often personality clashes that lie at the heart of many arbitrations and court cases.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO FOCUS YOUR PRACTICE ON THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR?

This just seemed to happen, but I am very glad it did!

WHAT ARE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGES CURRENTLY FACING PRACTITIONERS IN THE CONSTRUCTION SPACE?

In the context of international arbitration, where the bulk of my practice lies, the modern practice of concentrating very large and complex disputes into the short time slots made available by busy arbitrators makes hearings particularly intense, with a grave risk of one or both parties finding it difficult to get their case understood.

WHAT EFFECTS DO YOU ENVISAGE THE DIPLOMATIC CRISIS IN QATAR HAVING ON THE CONSTRUCTION PLANS FOR THE FIFA WORLD CUP 2022?

It seems inevitable that this will lead to numerous disputes.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT IS THE LIKELY IMPACT OF THE GRENFELL TOWER DISASTER ON LITIGATION IN THE UK?

Apart from the appalling death toll and huge emotional and physical consequences for the survivors, the commercial consequences seem likely to generate a mass of litigation and arbitration as landlords, property managers, contractors and design specialists argue about who will pick up the enormous bills for rendering hundreds of buildings across the UK safe.

WHY DO YOU THINK ARBITRATION HAS BECOME SUCH A POPULAR FORM OF DISPUTE RESOLUTION FOR THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY?

The great advantages of arbitration, particularly in international disputes, are the involvement of highly experienced professional arbitrators whose independence can in all but the most unusual case be guaranteed; the flexibility of proceedings; confidentiality; and management of the dispute process by professional bodies with long-established expertise.

WHERE DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF CONSTRUCTION LAW HEADING?

There is likely to be ever-greater assimilation of the law relating to construction contracts, particularly as common lawyers and civil lawyers gain better understanding of each other’s legal traditions. This trend is obvious in international arbitrations where very often civil and common lawyers come together to form an arbitral tribunal.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST MEMORABLE MATTER THAT YOU HAVE WORKED ON?

Probably an insurance dispute about a project to construct a tourist resort in the desert beside the pyramids at Giza, which was cancelled in reaction to political pressure. This, over 30 years ago, was an early taste of the political pressures of modern commercialism impinging upon highly valued Middle Eastern cultural sensitivities.

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