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New Qatar construction standards and practices may cost contractors, says expert

Contractors working in Qatar should check their contracts to see how new regulations will impact current and future projects, said construction expert Paul Prescott of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Apr 2015

A new technical regulation coming into force on 4 May gives guidance on how construction projects should be managed in Qatar, and establishes minimum acceptable quality in materials and workmanship. Known as QCS 2014, it will affect all contractors in the region, and may apply to live projects, Prescott said.

"Qatar needs to continue to adopt, develop and maintain best international standards and practice in the construction industry. This new regulation applies to all private and public sector projects, and is a good development for the country in that it will improve quality, safety, performance and efficiency in buildings and infrastructure," he said.

However, Doha-based Gabriel Olufemi of Pinsent Masons said it is "not entirely clear whether the new regulation applies to live projects. If it does, there could be a significant cost and time impact on these projects due to the changes that will be needed: redesigning work, re-sequencing programmes, amending method statements, or re-executing works".

Contractors and design and engineering consultants working on live projects should review their contracts to see whether they include an obligation to comply with laws "as amended", and if so, whether the contract's "change in law" provisions allow extra time and money to implement new laws, Olufemi said.

"In our experience, contracts awarded by Qatari government entities provide limited or no entitlement in relation to costs incurred or delays resulting from changes in the law. This could create difficulties for some companies," he said.

"The regulations were published on 4 February, so an experienced contractor or consultant could have foreseen this change in the law," he said.

For future projects, bidders should check tender documents to make sure the new requirements are covered and priced for, Prescott said.

Two other aspects of the regulations are worth comment, Prescott said. The first is a section dealing with the welfare of workers: minimum requirements are set out on welfare facilities and minimum health and safety requirements.

Second, new requirements are brought in for rail projects, which were not covered under previous regulations, he said.

"This section sets out the minimum requirements for tunnel design, tunnelling, dewatering, railway tracks and other rail related work. Contractors working on the Doha Metro Project need to familiarise themselves with these requirements, and how they might affect their projects and contracts," Prescott said.

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