South Korea is the third-largest economy in Asia. Part of the reason for the country's strong long-term economic performance has been its construction sector, whose participants have become increasingly internationally focused. For some, this has also created challenges in getting to grips with unfamiliar legal and commercial frameworks. Unchecked, this risk exposure could become a problem. For that reason we launched the Pinsent Masons Infrastructure Academy to help commercial teams engage with risk.

The challenge

South Korea is replete with home-grown success stories of construction contractors taking the world by storm. Daewoo Engineering and Construction, Doosan Engineering and Construction and Hyundai Engineering and Construction have all made huge strides in recent years.

That success has been felt around the world; one study by the Middle East Economic Digest found that five of the top ten most successful contractors working in the Gulf region came from South Korea.

Amid these positives, some contractors were concerned that their lack of familiarity with certain legal and commercial concepts at an operational level could leave them disadvantaged.

We launched the Pinsent Masons Infrastructure Academy to help commercial teams engage with risk

The solution

Working with one significant contractor client, we identified an opportunity to help it manage and minimize legal costs. By training its own personnel to improve on-the-ground contract management we could help the client reduce the number of disputes and increase the likelihood of commercial settlements rather than disputes.

In partnership with our client we compiled and reviewed the most common types of legal query within the clients' business and developed a syllabus around that.

To manage costs, this work was undertaken by a mix of full time and contract resource brought in from Vario, Pinsent Masons' hub of freelance lawyers.

We subsequently brought together a group of 50 contract managers who were working on projects of major commercial significance for the client around the world.

Over 10 days the contract managers participated in an intensive programme of presentations, workshops and feedback sessions. The objective was that, by the end of the programme, contract managers would be able to draft simple but legally robust claims documents based on contractual, quantum, delay and technical analysis.

The results

In a sure sign that the programme is working in reducing risk for the client, the Pinsent Masons Infrastructure Academy has become a regular fixture. It is now used partially as a means to identify and fast-track high performers. Further, the firm is engaged on complex and critical matters for South Korean contractors across Hong Kong, Singapore, the Middle East, Africa and South America.

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