Legal firms are expanding their construction dispute teams at a time when contractors warn late payments, poorly drafted contracts, and a culture that hasn't changed in years could see them exit the market if conditions fail to improve.

There have been a string of notable legal appointments this year as firms beef up their regional construction dispute teams.

International law firm CMS appointed Patrick McPherson as a partner in its infrastructure, construction, and energy disputes team in Dubai. 

CMS is not only one to expand its team: Reed Smith made a three-strong talent acquisition when it appointed Sachin Kerur and Michelle Nelson from Pinsent Masons, as well as arbitration lawyer Shourav Lahiri.

As part of concerted push in the Middle East, the trio of senior appointments will create an oil and gas disputes hub in Abu Dhabi, strengthening the firm’s construction and project sectors, and expanding its international arbitration capabilities.

All of these appointments reflect what some have described as an “adversarial market”. And while disagreements between client and contractor can be healed through dispute resolution and alternative dispute resolution – or ADR – there is a worry that contractors could exit the market if the situation worsens. 

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In this episode of Construction Week In Focus, Neha Bhatia and Oscar Rousseau, editor and deputy editor of Construction Week, look at why the the disputes market is in a perilous position.

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Construction Week In Focus episodes are published each Tuesday at 9am.