Paul Prescott, legal director, and Gabriel Olufemi, solicitor at Pinsent Masons look into the latest version of Qatar Construction Specifications (QCS 2014), and how it will impact the country’s construction industry.
A new technical regulation QS 27/2014 – QCS 2014 – was published in the Official Gazette on February 4, 2015. The purpose of QCS 2014 is to provide technical guidance, and establish a minimum acceptable quality standard in materials and workmanship for works to be undertaken in Qatar.
QCS 2014 is mandatory for all private and public sector projects. It replaces and supersedes the technical regulation QS 27/2010 – QCS 2010 – in all respects.
In December last year, the Minister of Environment Decision (210/2014) required all concerned parties to implement QCS 2014 “three months from the date of publication” in the Official Gazette. QCS 2014, therefore, came into force from May 4, 2015.
Here are some ways QCS 2014 might affect projects and contracts in Qatar.
The minimum requirements and standards in QCS 2010 have been revised and updated in QCS 2014, and the new technical regulation has been realigned to make it more user-friendly. QCS 2014 contains a few new sections and topics.
Section 1, for instance, deals with the welfare, safety and protection of workers. The regulation sets out the minimum requirements for the provision of welfare facilities, in addition to other minimum health and safety requirements.
Section 29 is another new section that applies to rail projects, which was not in QCS 2010. This section sets out the minimum requirements for tunnel design, geotechnical specification, tunnelling (including tunnel boring machine excavation, precast concrete and grouting for segment lining), dewatering and groundwater management, concrete and steel structures, and railway tracks.
The concerned parties – employers, contractors, and engineering or design consultants – must review QCS 2014 to familiarise themselves with the technical changes or additional requirements, and how they might affect their projects and contracts.
In a standard contract governed by International the Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) – FIDIC form of contract is typically used in Qatar – the term ‘laws’ is widely defined to include regulations and other by-laws of any legally-constituted public authority. QCS 2014 would be considered ‘laws’ under the contract, pursuant to Ministerial Decision 210/2014.
Under Sub-clause 1.13, contractors are required to comply with the laws (that is QCS 2014) in performing the contract. Contractors must therefore comply with the requirements set out in QCS 2014 when designing, executing and completing the works, and remedying defects in the works. This also applies to consultants providing design services.
Change in law provisions
Under Sub-clause 13.7 of a standard FIDIC contract, a contractor is entitled to additional time and money if it incurs additional cost or encounters delay as a result of implementing new laws, or as a consequence of repealed or modified existing laws (such as those amended in QCS 2014), which are made 28 days prior to the tender date. If such date is on or after May 4, 2015, the contractor would have no entitlement.
Contracts awarded by government entities in Qatar usually either: deny a contractor any entitlement by deleting the provisions in Sub-clause 13.7 entirely; or limit the entitlement by only granting additional time and money if the change in laws could not have been foreseen by an experienced contractor. Consultants must also check the change in law provisions in their contracts.
How QCS 2014 affects future projects
With QCS 2014 published in February, an experienced contractor or consultant could foresee this change in law from that date. The technical specifications for future projects must be reviewed to ensure they are consistent with the requirements of QCS 2014.
Contractors and consultants must adequately price and programme for any changes or additional scope. If references are made to QCS 2010 in tender documents, bidders should raise tender clarifications to ensure the changes or additional scope are captured and priced for.