JUVE Law Firm of the year

Construction

Rising demand as construction continues to grow

The construction sector is booming, which means more business for lawyers. With interest rates historically low, new buildings are springing up like mushrooms. Add to that a housing shortage in many cities – exacerbated by the current influx of refugees – combined with numerous public infrastructure projects and renovations of outdated clinics, and it makes for a plethora of construction cases. At the same time, there is less appetite for conflict: fewer and fewer disputes are taking place before regular courts and alternative forms of dispute resolution are gaining support.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) should also lead to less conflict in the future, because it requires all parties to plan the project together before the first sod is turned. After some lively discussion last year, the first BIM projects are now in the planning stage. Insurance companies are getting into this market in order to insure the remaining risk that projects might take longer and rack up more expenses than planned.

BIM is not the only reform in the construction sector: a new construction contract law is supposed to modernize service contract law and adapt it to the demands of construction projects. However, many construction lawyers are sceptical of the law. They are also wary because the European Commission is shaking up the Fee Regulation for Architects and Engineers (HOAI).

More breadth at market leaders, specialization in midfield

In contrast to the lively building sector, things have been relatively quiet at construction law firms – especially in terms of personnel. Instead, the firms used the boom to expand their advisory range: Leinemann & Partner and Kapellmann und Partner are intensifying work at the interface with real estate. Both firms have an advantage in their large teams, which have no problems handling transactions – and at lower prices than established firms in this field. However, the established firms have the advantage of deep roots in the real estate sector that would be difficult to emulate.

While advice is expanding at leading firms, those in center field are becoming increasingly specialized. Firms such as HFK Rechtsanwälte and Graf von Westphalen are focusing on the growing demand for alternative forms of dispute resolution, while others are committing to specific sectors such as healthcare and infrastructure or, in the case of CMS Hasche Sigle, industrial plant construction.

These different strategies serve to set firms apart from their competition, which is how they can maintain their (still mostly moderate) hourly fees under the current downward pressure on prices.

 


 

Firms in this chapter provide advice on traditional construction law, including contract, architects’ and engineers’ law, fees and liability issues, brokerage, rental and leasing law. Advice for construction projects and representation of the interests of contracting bodies and construction companies, both in and out of court, are also found here. Firms that deal with these issues, but where such activities comprise a large proportion of transactions and/or finance, can be found in the chapter on ?real estate.


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