Istanbul International Construction Law Conferences – IV

The Unforeseen in International Construction Contracts

İstanbul Bilgi University, Faculty of Law and Schellenberg Wittmer Ltd. co-organized the fourth of the Istanbul International Construction Law Conferences on 15 November 2019. This year's topic was “The Unforeseen in International Construction Contracts”.

A popular saying in the construction industry is that the only thing that is foreseeable in international construction projects is that something unforeseen will happen. In today's world of ever-tighter construction programs and increasing complexity of projects, and in which political and/or economic instability are sometimes additional uninvited guests, this saying has never been more apposite. This year's conference aimed to shed light on how the unforeseen is dealt with in modern international construction projects, starting from the contract and ending with dispute-resolution and as in the previous years, the issue is treated with the contributions of speakers representing a variety of backgrounds: contractors, specialized lawyers and the academia.

Following the opening speech of Prof. Dr. Turgut Tarhanlı, the acting dean of Istanbul Bilgi University Faculty of Law, the conference began with selected case studies taken from real-life practice that illustrated the many ways unforeseen developments can occur in international construction projects presented by Ümit Yamantürk and Elliott Geisinger. It was then examined how the risk of unforeseen events is managed at contract level, both in terms of contractual clauses and in terms of risk management in the life of a project. In this second session, Michael E. Schneider focused on the position of FIDIC Suite of Contracts regarding the matter; Wim van de Koot introduced the effect of owner’s and contractor’s due diligence requirement on the consequences of unforeseen and David Shilston shared an engineering geologist’s experience in managing the risks relating to ground conditions.

The third session chaired by Prof. Dr. Yeşim M. Atamer examined how unforeseen circumstances are regulated in various national laws; the perspective was highly comparative, with a special slot reserved for economic hardship. In this session, a comparative analysis of civil law jurisdictions was made by Prof. Dr. Başak Baysal, followed by a comparative analysis of common law countries by Dr. Tariq Baloch. The session was concluded by Anya George’s presentation on economic hardship.

The last session chaired by Prof. Dr. H. Ercüment Erdem focused on the question of whether, at the dispute-resolution stage, the tendency is to apply or to adapt the contract. Approaches to the unforeseen before dispute adjudication boards was explained by Yasemin Çetinel and approaches to the unforeseen before arbitral tribunals was explained by Prof. Dr. Christoph Brunner. Lastly, the criticial view from the industry was delivered by Alexander Schilling.

At the end of each session, the presenters as well as the practitioners had the opportunity to discuss examples from practice and exchange ideas.

İstanbul Bilgi University, Faculty of Law and Schellenberg Wittmer. would like to thank DRBF, İNTES, ISTAC Arbitration Centre, Association of Turkish Consulting Engineers and Architects, Turkish Contractors Association for their contributions to the dissemination of this conference.



Date: 15 November 2019
Time: 9.30-18.00
Place: Intercontinental Hotel


Organizing Committee:



Yeşim M. Atamer

Bern University /
İstanbul Bilgi University

Tariq Baloch

3 Verulam Buildings Barristers,

Başak Baysal

İstanbul University

Christoph Brunner

Bern University / Peter&Partners

Yasemin Çetinel

Çetinel Law Firm /
DRBF - Country Representative

H. Ercüment Erdem

Galatasaray University /
Erdem & Erdem Law Office

Elliott Geisinger

Schellenberg Wittmer, Geneva

Anya George

Schellenberg Wittmer Ltd,

Wim van de Koot

Rönesans Holding Europe

Alexander Schilling

Siemens AG

Michael E. Schneider

Lalive S.A., Geneva

David Shilston

Atkins / SNC-Lavalin, London

Ümit Yamantürk

Güriş Construction &
Engineering, Ankara