7 Feb 2024

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Stefan Panourgias, the Managing Director at Composite Consult, provides insightful perspectives on navigating the complexities of arbitration in the Middle East’s construction industry. He emphasizes the importance of a sophisticated mix of practical wisdom and strategic foresight, particularly in understanding the unique legal and cultural intricacies of the region.


Asset Tracing as a Proactive Strategy

Panourgias highlights the strategic use of asset tracing not just post-award but as a crucial, preemptive measure to ensure the feasibility of award recovery. This approach informs legal strategies and negotiations, underpinning the risk management strategy in arbitration.


Contractual Compliance

He identifies contractual compliance as the foundation of effective dispute resolution. This involves not only adhering to contract terms but also respecting the contract’s tiered dispute resolution process. Such adherence ensures a structured resolution pathway and minimizes jurisdictional challenges.


The Crucial Role of Arbitrators and Advocates

The selection of an arbitrator is pivotal, with Panourgias noting the difference between arbitrators trained in Civil Code systems and those from the common law tradition. The involvement of seasoned advocates in cross-examination is crucial, though their approach must balance thorough legal examination with the risk of negative perceptions due to aggressive questioning.


Collaborative Environment in Arbitration

Success in arbitration relies on the collective strengths of counsel, experts, consultants, and executives. This collaborative effort is essential for presenting a compelling case before the tribunal.


Understanding Financial Implications

The cost of arbitration in the UAE includes fees for arbitrators, legal counsel, expert consultants, and more. Panourgias points out that delays can significantly increase these costs, making a thorough understanding of all potential costs and funding mechanisms vital.


Future Contracting Strategies 

While arbitration can refine future contracting strategies, it may also lead to overly cautious or rigid contract terms. Panourgias advises balancing insights gained from arbitration with the need for adaptable contract strategies.


Navigating Arbitration with Foresight

Effective dispute resolution requires unwavering contractual adherence, strategic asset tracing, judicious arbitrator selection, and comprehensive arbitration cost management. Panourgias stresses the importance of an objective, independent advisor to prevent unnecessary escalations and guide the case towards a resolution that aligns with the client’s objectives.


Panourgias’s insights underline the multifaceted approach needed to navigate arbitration in the construction sector of the GCC, from pre-emptive strategies like asset tracing to the nuanced selection of arbitrators and the collaborative dynamics of the arbitration process. His emphasis on contractual compliance, strategic financial management, and the balancing of insights for future contracting underscores the complexity and strategic depth required for success in this field.


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