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Construction Lawyers Will Have to Adapt to Changes, Too, After COVID-19

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Builders are following new practices on-site during the pandemic, but their attorneys will have to adapt to changes as well. In a recent Bloomberg Law article, Joanna Horsnail and Casey Williams, attorneys for Mayer Brown LLP, looked at the various trends that legal professionals will have to adapt to going forward.

One trend, the authors write, is that force majeure provisions will need to be bolstered and lawyers should scrutinize these clauses more than ever. “All parties to a construction contract should be focused on risk allocation and procedures to address a potential resurgence of COVID-19, or a similar pandemic,” they write.

Another trend is that construction will involve new safety options. According to Horsnail and Williams, project owners and contractors “are thinking about implementation of designs that enable social distancing and regular deep-cleaning of facilities.”

The owners also are considering ways facilities can be retrofitted post-COVID-19. However, in contracts for new projects, “Attorneys should pay close attention to the safety protocols and carefully allocate responsibility for protective measures during the construction period, including PPE, health screenings, staggered shifts, deep cleaning and similar considerations,” the authors advise.

A third trend is an increased emphasis on construction performed remotely with the use of robotics and autonomous vehicles.

“Attorneys practicing in this space must be aware of the risks that come with implementing new technology on a construction project, and agreements need to appropriately allocate novel risks,” Horsnail and Williams write. “Parties should consider issues such as data breaches and cybersecurity, confidentiality, licensing/intellectual property rights, and defects and safety issues in light of technology being used on a particular project.”

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