Autumn 2022 International Conferences

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Over the last two months, Bill Barton visited three countries for construction and property conferences/seminars. Below, he shares his experience from each trip alongside some pictures of the events.

Seoul – Korea

In early October I was once again fortunate to travel to Seoul to catch up with a number of clients and contacts, and to host the inaugural Barton Legal seminar on “How to reduce disputes in construction projects”, which was held at the British Embassy in Seoul. We were incredibly fortunate to be able to secure speakers from the best construction and engineering practices in Seoul: Matt Christensen of Kim & Chang, Mino Han of Peter & Kim, Young Suk Park of KL Partners and Yeongjoon Pyeon of FTI Consulting.

This seminar focussed on the many steps and actions that parties can take, ranging from raising more queries on bid documents, to properly reviewing contractual terms and assembly of documents. It also looked at the cultural aspects of negotiation and the actual and perceived imbalance between parties.

A reception in the Embassy gardens afterwards offered a great chance for everyone to mingle and network and we are already looking forward to next year’s event.

During the trip, meetings were held with Doosan Heavy Industries & Co; Byucksan Engineering Co. Ltd; GS E&C; as well as a number of the best law firms in Seoul, including Shin & Kim, Kim & Chang, KL Partners, Peter & Kim, Kwon & Co, and a number of the local consulting practices.

Seoul is an incredibly vibrant market, and Korea is bustling with significant domestic build, an increase in renewable energy and a continued resolve from its contractors to undertake major international projects.

I even managed to squeeze in a trip to the city of Busan on the south coast, (and sample the amazing bullet train – LNER and others take note that is how we all want to travel), which is hoping to host the 2030 World Expo.

Korea is a vital part of our growth strategy and if you are interested in learning more or if you have contacts in Korea that you are willing to share with us then please drop me an email

If you are travelling to Korea and would like my top tips for business travellers then also give me a call and hopefully you will avoid some of the mistakes I have made.

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DRBFCluj – Romania

A two day conference focussing on the merits, use and working methods of dispute boards.

These were highly practical and leadership driven sessions, where the experience of each panel was brought to share and discuss with the audience. Consequently, there was a very high level of engagement and discussion, with many issues and points hotly debated.

Bill spoke on a session entitled “Trick or Treat? Opinions and Informal Assistance”, which debated the extent to which a dispute board member can give an opinion and or provide assistance in any way. That might range from their initial inspection of the site/project to offering some comment during any hearing.

Bill also moderated the session “The Untouchables: independence and Impartiality”, where the panel discussed why it is imperative that the members of the dispute board are seen to be and act in this way. The dangers of diluting this message and the preconceived views of the parties to the dispute were also discussed (argued?). 

The conference had 75 in person delegates and as evidence of the extent of participation, virtually everyone was still present when the last session concluded at 5.30 on the Friday afternoon.

If you are interested in learning more about dispute boards, how they are used and when and where, then please either contact us at or go to the DRBF website .

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International Bar Association (IBA) Miami

The international conference was held this year in Miami, after false starts over the last two years for reasons we all know.

This is a gathering of over 6,000 lawyers and consultants and other organisations linked to the legal world, where you have the opportunity to attend fascinating sessions organised by the various sub-committees of the IBA, meet those people who rarely venture from their office or are too closely guarded ever to gain personal access to, and even to attend the occasional conference party.

This year as part of the International Construction Projects (ICP) group, I was moderating a session entitled “A new era of collaboration? The rise of multi-party and alliance contracting”, which had the very best panel of the conference, including Claus Lenz of Lenz Dispute Resolution (Hamburg), Thais Fernandes Chebatt of Pinheironeto (São Paulo), Andreas J. Roquette of CMS (Berlin) and Christian Johansen of Bruun & Hjejle (Copenhagen).

This covered issues from planning, including scope, price and programme; an examination of real-life examples such as a large biomass project in Germany; issues of mistrust and insufficient information, leading to inherent bias and mistrust in dispute resolution provisions; and an absence of an organised structure. Each of the speakers then gave examples, good and bad, from their own countries of collaboration and the use of alliance contracts; the impact of duties of good faith and partnering. There were many questions from the audience and lively debate and disagreement, surely real signs of an interesting and stimulating debate and discussion, as opposed to a lecture.

Throughout the week the ICP group organised a number of other sessions, which were all well attended and focussed on actual issues and problems, shown by the high level of attendance and lively inter-action between the audience and panel in each session. If you would like more details of the sessions then please drop me an email to

There were of course a number of after conference events and parties and I can only comment on a few! Watching the Miami Heat basketball team was a real highlight – 30,000 people houting “more HEAT!” is quite something (and they won!). A visit to a couple of the museums and galleries as part of events and of course the IBA World football match, once again brilliantly organised by Keith Oliver of Peters and Peters. Following surgery and on medical advice, they had the joy of me refereeing this year and not impersonating a goalkeeper.

Next year the IBA is in Paris and even more people are expected to attend. If you are interested in learning more about the IBA and in particular the ICP then please drop me a line. If you were in Miami and we didn’t manage to meet then I am very sorry, but it was action packed from start to finish – complete with a hurricane to see me leave!

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