GC2B: Infrastructure – jam today, risk tomorrow?


screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-17-12-51The UK’s population is expected to grow by almost 10 million in the next 25 years putting considerable strain on energy, transport systems, water and social infrastructure. With this in mind, there will be a need for municipal and local infrastructure across the country such as new schools, new homes, more public space, an increase in the capacity of public transport and additional facilities for recycling and waste management. Exciting times ahead for the UK, and infrastructure is very much on the political and social agenda. The recent Autumn Statement saw the Government announce increased spending in this area to encourage growth, ­increase productivity and enhance and promote housebuilding.

How to deliver value

It is well known that infrastructure projects can be exceptionally complicated and often take longer and cost more than expected. Managing risk is critical to delivering value. So what does this mean for the role of the general counsel (GC) involved with infrastructure projects, and what are the main challenges? How will the increase in Government spending affect the day-to-day role of the in-house legal adviser? Does it create an opportunity for high-value goods, services, construction and legal work across the UK, given the Government’s push for exports? How does a GC deal with the challenges of cost pressures and ­issues around labour and skills when a project starts to take shape? And what are the predictions for the short, medium and longer terms as we get closer to triggering Article 50?

These questions, and many more, will be ­discussed on 8 February 2017 at a roundtable which will also look at other areas connected with infrastructure. How does the in-house GC ­balance market opportunities with evolving regulation, financing requirements and consenting and political risks? What are the challenges of ­bigger and riskier projects when it comes to the corporate balance sheet? Has infrastructure emerged as a significant new investor asset class, and what does this mean for large projects in the UK? And how do GCs advise on the legal risks associated with bidding, construction and regulation as infrastructure covers so many areas?

All these factors are important to the future prosperity of the country and will be essential in ensuring the UK is ‘match fit’ as we move into the post-Brexit unknown.

Facilitated and chaired by The Lawyer’s editor Catrin Griffiths and BLP’s head of project, ­energy and infrastructure finance Mark Richards, the discussion will be written up as a feature in The Lawyer. We want to hear from experienced GCs interested in passing down their knowledge to the next generation of in-house lawyers, as well as those newer to the role and keen to learn.

If you would like to be part of this roundtable, to be held at The Royal Exchange in London on 8 February, please contact Emma Bower at The Lawyer (emma.bower@centaurmedia.com) to register your interest.