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Chris Holwell, Partner & National Head of Construction

Chris Holwell

Partner & National Head of Construction

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He is praised as "very good technically" and "straightforward to work with" by market sources. One interviewee reports that "Chris's knowledge of construction matters is extremely impressive."
(Chambers & Partners, 2019)


Chris specialises in construction and engineering procurement work, acting for employers (in both public and private sectors), contractors, consultants, funders and sub-contractors.

His work includes advising on and negotiating procurement strategies and structures, building, engineering remediation and process plant contracts, framework agreements and call-off contracts, PFI/PPP projects, consultants’ appointments, bonds, guarantees, collateral warranties and associated issues.

Legal Services

Construction

Engineering

Chris has extensive experience of advising in relation to engineering projects in various sectors, including both civil and structural engineering and (see separate section) process plant. He is familiar with NEC, FIDIC, MF/1, IChemE and other forms of contract used in the engineering industries, and also with the issues which differentiate engineering projects from standard construction.

Process Plant

Chris has experience of process plant contracts in a variety of sectors including the pharmaceutical, water, manufacturing and warehousing/distribution industries. He is entirely familiar with the IChemE, MF/1 and other contracts used in the industry and advises on and negotiates them on a regular basis.

PFI/PPP

Chris has advised in relation to PFI/PPP schemes from their inception in the 1990s (e.g. the Sir John Colfox Schools PFI Pathfinder Project), and on the offspring of these main forms of procurement such as LIFT and BSF. Although the market for new projects is nowhere near what it was, he still advises on changes to PFI/PPP structures and the other work flowing from them.

Cases

  • Advising project managers and quantity surveyors Gleeds in relation to their appointments for a wide range of projects in the UK and overseas.
  • Acting for London Luton Airport in relation to construction and engineering contracts for their expansion project (published value £100 million). The project included a major expansion to the terminal building; including a significant extension with fit-out and refurbishment of the existing building with work both airside and landside, building a new aircraft access pier to accommodate additional aircraft arrival and departure gates, and new roads, car parks (including multi-storey) and accessways to increase the airport’s capacity from 12 million passengers a year to 18 million.
  • Advising on contracting strategies, procurement advice, drafting and negotiating civil engineering contracts and building contracts, consultant team appointments, security documents, other related construction and engineering documentation, and advice in relation to EU Procurement Regulation issues.
  • Acting for the developer of a luxury hotel, involving the complex refurbishment and extension of a Georgian building dating from the 1740s. The work included the incorporation of adjoining buildings of the same age into the expanded hotel. Chris acted in relation to the building contracts, professional consultant appointments and all other construction aspects of the project.
  • Advising contractors on AMP framework contracts with water companies and on the joint venture agreements needed in order to deliver the framework contract requirements.
  • Acting for a multinational pharmaceutical company on the MF/1 contracts for the purchase. This involved the installation and commissioning of a new fill/finish line and the associated isolator for its main UK production facility.
  • Advising Mortar Developments – the developer of a 400+ bed student accommodation development in London, which also included commercial office space and retail space let to Sainsbury’s and others. The site was complicated by the tube station next door, the tube line running under the site, and a 40 foot Victorian brick embankment dropping to the railway main line into Kings Cross at the rear of the site.
  • Advising developers on the contracts for the creation of two distribution parks. Chris’ work includes giving advice on the contracts for the installation of infrastructure and the construction of the anchor tenant units. He also advises on all associated consultant appointments, warranties, bonds and guarantees.
  • Drafting and negotiating for Blueprint (a public/private joint venture between Aviva’s Igloo fund and Nottingham City Council), the significantly amended NEC3-based contract for civil engineering works at its Waterside site. This included ground remediation, alteration of levels, installation of infrastructure and substantial repairs to the largely submerged cofferdam constructed walls which line the banks of the Trent running along one side of the site and the canal basin which projects within it. He also advised on all contracts for the building out of the site as a new residential district, including contracts for PV and ground source heat pumps.
  • Advising the developer of Nottingham Science Park in relation to the civil engineering contract for the remediation and alteration of levels at the site and installation of main infrastructure. Also in relation to the design and build contracts for the construction of the first two buildings.
  • Advising a multi-national pharmaceutical company on the procurement strategy to source three long-term framework contractors to carry out maintenance, reconfiguration of production plant, utility supply upgrading, building alterations and new construction works to its main UK pharmaceutical production facilities, provision of scaffolding and other access solutions, provision of engineering design staff and CAD support and providing engineering project management staff. As well as the procurement advice and assistance with tendering and tender assessment, we also drafted the bespoke contracts to cover the work. These included KPI and Core Group arrangements with payment structures to incentivise high performance.
  • Advising a Highways Authority in relation to the drafting, tendering and negotiation of a 14 year Highways term maintenance contract, with the value of £150 – £900 million. The contract was based on the HMEP-amended version of the NEC3 Term Service Contract and the framework was drafted so as to be useable by a number of other authorities in the region.
  • Acting for the Midlands Highway Alliance (a grouping of around 20 Highways Authorities) in drafting the Medium Schemes Framework Contract for use by all MHA member Authorities.
  • Advising two major mechanical and electrical engineering contractors on a construction joint venture agreement to tender for projects in the nuclear power sector.
  • Advising two Highways Authorities on a series of joint framework contracts for highways works within the two cities. The work included initial strategic advice, resulting in the production of a paper setting out the best options for the Authorities, based on an analysis of their previous experience of highways frameworks. Also, the drafting of NEC3 based call-off contracts to implement the agreed strategy, using a variety of different NEC3 contracts rather than the Term Service Contract on which their previous framework had been based.
  • Advising international project managers on their contracts relating to nuclear decommissioning work in Canada.
  • Advising a pharmaceutical company in relation to its ongoing requirements for engineering work, These included upgrades to UPS/HV system, glatt filtration system maintenance and upgrading (including explosion suppression system upgrades), installation of new dust extract systems for manufacturing areas, replacement of purified water production and distribution system, Class 100,000 air provision, and works to create appropriate airlocks to comply with GMP, FDA requirements, etc.
  • Advising major retail clients on Sortation and Racking Systems for distribution centres. This included MF/1 based contracts for the design, supply and installation of warehouse racking systems and automatic sorting systems to take products automatically from the warehouse pick-face, sort them into batches, pallet, wrap and label them automatically for delivery to the correct shops. Based on both orders received from the shops and on automatic stock control reports.
  • Advising a multi-national pharmaceutical company on the procurement strategy to source three long-term framework contractors to carry out maintenance, reconfiguration of production plant, utility supply upgrading, building alterations and new construction works to its main UK pharmaceutical production facilities, provision of scaffolding and other access solutions, provision of engineering design staff and CAD support and providing engineering project management staff. As well as the procurement advice and assistance with tendering and tender assessment, we also drafted the bespoke contracts to cover the work. These included KPI and Core Group arrangements with payment structures to incentivise high performance.
  • Advising a leading European soya processing company, in relation to the construction of its first factory in the UK. This included both construction of the building and the procurement, installation and commissioning of complex process plant to make soya milk and soya milk products. As well as the processing plant there were also both chilled and ambient storage facilities and a significant waste water treatment plant. Chris subsequently advised in relation to the extension of the factory and substantial alterations to its waste water treatment plant, to increase both its capacity and its efficiency, to meet new and higher standards.
  • Advising the contractor in relation to the Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham combined waste disposal and waste to energy PFI project – this included a combination of civil engineering and building construction work. The contract price is confidential but the total deal was valued at £750 million and was supported by £77.4 million of Government PFI Project Funding.
  • Advising the Contractor in relation to the Sandwell Housing Pathfinder PFI project, with a project value of £203 million.
  • Acting in relation to numerous BSF schools projects, some of them Academies, for both Contractors and Authorities.
  • Acting for the contractor in relation to a PFI project for the design and construction/refurbishment of 16 combined Fire & Rescue stations across the North West of England.
  • Advising the bidders in relation to several Competitive Dialogue procurement processes, including two major housing PFI schemes.
  • Brentwood Community Hospital PFI – advising our client on and negotiating in relation to the Project Agreement, construction contract and related documents for this £30 million project.
  • Advising in relation to medical facility-related contracts from hospitals to renal treatment centres. The latter the ongoing running and maintenance of the dialysis facilities over a 10-25 year period, bringing in considerations of maintenance of equipment and facilities, and upgrading to meet changing regulations.

Infrastructure & Project Finance

Chris advises on infrastructure contracts and projects in a variety of sectors, particularly highways, the water industry and aviation.

His work covers not only the contracts, but also Joint Venture agreements on the supply-side of the infrastructure industry, which are becoming ever more common.

Cases

  • Advising a Highways Authority in relation to the drafting, tendering and negotiation of a 14 year Highways term maintenance contract, with the value of £150 – £900 million. The contract was based on the HMEP-amended version of the NEC3 Term Service Contract and the framework was drafted so as to be useable by a number of other authorities in the region.
  • Acting for London Luton Airport in relation to construction and engineering contracts for their expansion project (published value £100 million). The project included a major expansion to the terminal building; including a significant extension with fit-out and refurbishment of the existing building with work both airside and landside, building a new aircraft access pier to accommodate additional aircraft arrival and departure gates, and new roads, car parks (including multi-storey) and accessways to increase the airport’s capacity from 12 million passengers a year to 18 million.
  • Acting for the Midlands Highway Alliance (a grouping of around 20 Highways Authorities) in drafting the Medium Schemes Framework Contract for use by all MHA member Authorities.
  • Advising two major mechanical and electrical engineering contractors on a construction joint venture agreement to tender for projects in the nuclear power sector.
  • Advising two Highways Authorities on a series of joint framework contracts for highways works within the two cities. The work included initial strategic advice, resulting in the production of a paper setting out the best options for the Authorities, based on an analysis of their previous experience of highways frameworks. Also, the drafting of NEC3 based call-off contracts to implement the agreed strategy, using a variety of different NEC3 contracts rather than the Term Service Contract on which their previous framework had been based.
  • Advising international project managers on their contracts relating to nuclear decommissioning work in Canada.
  • Acting for project managers in relation to a number of rail industry contracts, relating to both track maintenance and improvement and works on stations. Work has involved both rail-based and major developments at stations such as Kings Cross, London St Pancras.
  • Acting for a major national contractor in relation to the upgrading of a number of overground and London Underground railway stations.
  • Advising the Contractor in relation to the construction for London Busses of the £30 million, 12,000 square metre West Ham Bus Garage. This is the largest bus garage in Europe, providing for a capacity of 350 busses. It is also one of the most environmentally sustainable with over 20% on-site renewable power generation, a green roof and landscaping to increase the site’s biodiversity.

 

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To contact Chris or for more information…

Call: 0845 050 3667
Or email: Send an email

 

Testimonials

“Chris has a great understanding of our market and the expectations of our clients and delivers succinct and clear advice, allowing us to easily make decisions. He clearly recognises the commercial realities of the industry and this allows him to focus on what is important, saving much time and money.”

(Ken Reid, Gleeds)

“Chris Holwell is a non-contentious construction procurement specialist. He advises developers, contractors and employers from both the private and public sectors on the procurement of highly significant projects. Clients say: ‘Chris is exceptionally well organised and his advice is always very well considered and pragmatic’.”

(Chambers & Partners, 2018)

“Chris Holwell is very highly regarded by clients and peers alike, who describe him as ‘an excellent transactional lawyer’ who is ‘exceptional on contracts.’ ‘He is very knowledgeable, very impressive and gives good clear advice,’ sources say. He recently advised on the documentation for the construction of a student accommodation, retail and offices project on Caledonian Road.”


“Chris Holwell is a respected figure in the market, winning praise for his understanding of the industry and ability to get straight to the core of a matter.”


“It is always a pleasure to work with Chris and his team. When you engage Chris you are assured of a very professional, competent and expert service – irrespective of the short notice and limited timescale generally given. The support and advice is always delivered clearly and succinctly – all issues are identified but more importantly solutions are also provided in a proactive and positive manner. Having worked on numerous projects with Chris it is very apparent that he is held in the highest regard by his peers.”

(Tim Spencer, Investment & Development Director, Mansell)

“Chris Holwell is recognised for his provision of front-end procurement advice. He regularly advises on sophisticated projects in the UK and internationally, and is described by interviewees as ‘a standout lawyer’.”

(Chambers 7 Partners, 2016)

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