Partner Appointment for Conexus Law

Mission critical project construction specialist Earle Brady has joined Conexus Law as a partner. Brady, whose career includes senior construction roles at DLA Piper, Addleshaws and Napthens LLP in addition to an in-house role at Kingspan Energy, has built a reputation supporting the delivery of major projects with full service legal advice across the Energy, Mining, Real Estate, Sports and Leisure, IT, Rail and Education sectors. He has worked as a consultant with Ed Cooke, Conexus Law founder and managing partner, since the firm’s inception through his practice esb legal Limited. Brady’s clients have transferred to Conexus Law where he will continue to be their lead partner.

Conexus Law is a rapidly growing boutique firm which works exclusively for organisations working at the intersection of technology, the built environment and people.

Ed Cooke; “Earle is an exceptional construction lawyer with a rare full-service skillset and the ability to work with clients on projects requiring a global overview at scale. He totally gets the bigger commercial, always time critical, picture in which our clients are working. Earle’s loyal client following speaks volumes for how highly regarded he is and we are looking forward to working with the impressive clients who have joined us with him.”

Earle Brady; “I’m thrilled to be joining the Conexus Law partnership at such a pivotal moment in its development and growth and, importantly, making my contribution towards its progress. This is a firm with a clear market focus and a model of working that delivers for clients and our lawyers. The firm already has a strong client base, especially in the Technology Infrastructure space, with exactly the scale of big project work I do. And the team of consultants here are superb.”

Brady is one of several planned partner hires for the next 12 months as the firm sets out on its rapid growth trajectory through recruitment and organic growth.

Ed Cooke; “We’re really keen to hear from real estate, corporate and technology partners who meet our specific criteria including big firm experience, an entrepreneurial mindset and a client following. We’d also like to hear from lawyers, partner level or partner material, with an appetite to head up and grow our sector teams in Clean Energy, Smart Cities, Virtual World and Artificial Intelligence.”

A photograph of Earle Brady accompanies this story.

For more information please contact Liz Whitaker, Marketing Director, on 07792 541443 or [email protected]

About Conexus Law

Conexus Law is a rapidly growing boutique law firm advising clients working at the intersection of technology, people and the built environment. Founder and managing partner Ed Cooke is a recognised legal expert on delivering mission critical, national and international data centre projects. More on www.conexuslaw.com.

Monaco. Conexus Law is coming for you!

Conexus Law is attending Data Cloud Congress in Monaco

Ed Cooke and Nancy Lamb will be there #datacloudglobalcongress meeting current and future clients and contacts.

Please contact Ed Cooke and/or Nancy Lamb for a scheduled catch-up. Otherwise we look forward to seeing you around and about!

Ed Cooke speaks about Legal Trends at Data Centre World Conference

Better management of supply chain issues and transparency around ESG credentials are the key drivers behind a growing demand for collaborative contracting according to Ed Cooke speaking about legal trends at the Digital Infrastructure Advisers Limited (DIAL) panel session hosted by The DCA (Data Centre Alliance) at the Data Centre World conference. Covid 19 had really strength-tested data centre contracts according to Ed, hence the drive to look at building longer term, deeper partnerships with key suppliers through collaborative contracting. Meantime, data centre client demand for accuracy on ESG credentials, was also encouraging improved accountability in supplier relationships. Ed and Conexus lawyer Nancy Lamb are already talking with a number of Conexus clients about introducing the approach to their existing and new contracts.

Asked by panel Steve Hone Hone about how Conexus is advising data centre clients managing the wealth of global growth opportunities, Ed highlighted how the firm is working with investors on applying due diligence to filter opportunities for investors, ensuring data centre expansion plans were rolled out efficiently by keeping them in line with original construction plans and, for US data centres, managing the many and varied nuances of harmonising construction frameworks across Europe.

While all panel members noted the success and growth of the UK data centre sector over the last five years, Ed also predicted a corresponding increase in the regulatory and compliance demands, especially around planning the environment. Ed said the industry bodies, like @DCA, had an important role to play here.

Ed Cooke joins the Digital Infrastructure Advisors Panel at Data Centre World London

Day one at Data Centre World London and Conexus managing partner Ed Cooke is joining the Digital Infrastructure Advisors panel discussion hosted by The DCA (Data Centre Alliance)’s Steve Hone. The 30 minute ‘Connecting the Digital Dots’ session starts at 12.25 in the Edge & Future Strategies Theatre and will explore how investors and customers can overcome current security, legal and sustainability challenges. Other panel members, all members of the DIAL advisory board, are Stephen Whatling, CEO Keysource, Stephen Lorimer Technical Director Keysource and
Jim Hart CEO Business Critical Solutions (BCS).

Stephen Whatling, will outline how newly launched DIAL, as a multi-disciplinary advisory team, can support clients. The discussion will finish with a Q&A.

DIAL is specialist group with CEO Mike West, providing a range of advisory services to corporates, investment funds, and owners and operators in the data centre market and the wider digital infrastructure arena. Current projects include private and public facilities, colocation and hyperscale developments across the globe.

To find out more about the Digital Infrastructure Advisors, please contact Ed Cooke.

Nancy Lamb Joins Conexus Law to Launch Collaborative Contracts Service

Conexus Law continues its growth and recruitment drive with the hire of Nancy Lamb, a leading expert in data centre construction contracts.

Lamb, who is known for her straight-talking, no-nonsense approach, offers to understand, negotiate and implement construction contracts to maintain project momentum and avoid expensive disputes. Conexus Law’s managing partner, Ed Cooke, and Lamb will be launching a new and unique service using the latest techniques for collaborative contracting exclusively for the data centre industry.

Ed Cooke; “As a law firm specialising in data centres we need lawyers totally embedded in the sector. A construction lawyer with big law firm experience who has super-niched in data centres, Nancy is one of the best and we’re thrilled that she’s joining our growing team at a critical stage in our development. Demand is soaring for a lawyer with Nancy’s exceptional skills and background. I’ve seen her in action, she gets things done, she delivers results.”

Nancy Lamb trained at Pinsent Masons later joining the firm’s top-ranked Construction Team before moving to Hill Dickinson LLP, also in construction. Lamb moved on from private practice law firms to work in various executive roles for Tyco Fire Product, Sudlows and MiCiM.

Nancy Lamb; “Conexus Law is the right choice for me for many reasons and here are my top two. Ed can see the value I will bring to clients because of my unique insight having worked in both the legal world and on project delivery. Second, the potential is huge. Collaborative contracts are so important because they acknowledge and value relationships – rather than processes – and the start to moving away from the existing adversarial and confrontational nature of construction projects. We can do better than that! A collaborative approach is particularly important in the data centre sector because the pool of stakeholders is so small. I’m looking forward to working with Conexus Law clients and introducing my own connections.”

Conexus Law is recruiting technology and corporate partners while broadening its team of consultants. Since launching 2019, Conexus Law has built a consultancy team that includes Emma Cordiner, data centre real estate expert, and Gavin Johnson, who heads up the firm’s Buildtech team.

Ed Cooke; “We’ve set the bar high on our recruitment standards and it takes a special kind of lawyer to join our team. Big firm experience and a track record in our markets are important because clients expect leading edge advice and outlook. We also need ambitious people, with entrepreneurial flair, who are keen to play their part in growing our firm. There is an exciting future for the right candidates.”

Conexus Law is a unique, challenger brand, boutique law firm advising clients operating at the intersection of the built environment, technology and people.

For further advice on Collaborative Contracting please contact Nancy Lamb via her contact details below.

Nancy Lamb
Main: +44 (0)20 7390 0280
Mobile: +44 (0)7771 877234
[email protected]

Working in the Indian Data Centre Market

In 2020, the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology announced its draft Data Centre Policy, designed to make the country more attractive for domestic and foreign investment into the data centre sector. In this article, Ed Cooke, Founder at Conexus Law, shares some of his experiences of working on Indian projects including some of the key differences in design and construction contracts.

The vision

The government’s vision is to make India a global data hub, primarily by promoting the data centre sector to give it infrastructure status and creating a benign regulatory environment. Plans also include establishing Data Centre Economic Zones with high-quality power and connectivity infrastructure, water and other utilities, and creating financial incentives, particularly for the use of Indian-manufactured equipment and hardware. In fact, certain state governments, such as the states of Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, have already announced state-wide policies to encourage data centre development.

Over the past few years, a number of global data centre operators have announced investment partnerships focused on the Indian market. These include the recently announced joint venture between Digital Realty and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, Yondr’s venture with Singaporean Everstone Group, AdaniConneX (a JV of EdgeConneX and Adani Group), and announcements of hyperscale data centre developments by the likes of CapitaLand, Hiranandani, NTT, and STT GDC. In fact, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Delhi are already well advanced as important locations to serve the increasing Digital Transformation among the Indian domestic market and the global communications market. Mumbai, in particular, has been the premier choice for hyperscale developments due to its infrastructure availability and proximate subsea landing stations.

Understanding the differences

At Conexus Law, we have recently been working for US and European based clients on the construction of hyperscale size data centre projects in India. As commercial and legal advisors specialising in technology infrastructure, one of our regular tasks is to help clients enter new markets.

This includes helping them to understand the legal, commercial and cultural differences compared to operating in their ‘home’ environment. We always work with local partners and it is a part of our work that we really love doing.

The Indian legal system is fashioned on English common law, but overlayed with Indian legislation and regulatory laws. Indian court judgments set precedent and so it is important to understand both the legislative and common law context in which you are working.

In our experience, most data centre construction contracts in India are either based on a bespoke form of contract or a FIDIC standard form (usually a Yellow Book). There are also other inevitable regional differences.

Areas to focus on

As an example, labour and the supply chain are a huge and complex area in India and we often get involved in advising clients on their approach to procurement, and to monitoring second and third tier suppliers. Performance security, bonds and third-party guarantees/letters of credit are extensively used on large construction projects in India and we play a role in monitoring these. Also structuring payments against milestones – in particular protections around advance payments – are, in our experience, common in India.

The quality and workmanship – and in particular compliance with local and international codes and standards – is an area of real focus and aligns with detailed staged and integrated commissioning processes. There are also a number of compulsory insurances required in India alongside those which would normally be expected by an international client.

Cultural considerations

When we are negotiating in a different country or culture, we work hard to understand how the approach of our negotiating partner might differ from your own. It is always risky to try to characterise a whole nation or culture by a set of rules and so there needs to be a lot of ‘finding your way’ with the relevant individuals. However, we find cultural frameworks such as the well-known Geert Hofstede index, can be useful as a starting point. For example, through that, we learn that Indian culture scores highly in relation to its appreciation of hierarchy. It is therefore important to establish early on where the individuals we are negotiating with fit and ensure that either negotiations on specific points are conducted at the right level. An alternative is to provide enough justification for our stance to enable the individual to take the decision back to his or her superiors and make a convincing argument. It is quite easy to cause offence by not respecting the hierarchical structure (perhaps by seeking to jump a level in order to get faster resolution of an issue). To the western negotiator who is often time pressured, negotiating can feel like a very slow process but it is important to temper frustrations for the long-term goal. Also remember, as with many Asian cultures, that the term ‘yes’ is often used to indicate understanding of the point being made, not agreement to it. In our experience, this can cause clients great difficulty when they report that an issue has been closed out, only to find it has not been.

In conclusion, investment in digital infrastructure is happening at scale in India and there is a vast amount of further potential in this market. In fact, investment in the Indian data centre market is expected to reach US$8 billion by 2026. There are inevitable challenges in meeting the demand of a very tech-enabled population and business sector quickly enough, with reliable infrastructure to overcome historic under-investment in the region, such as quality construction and availability of highly qualified labour. We are proud to be part of it.

How to Ensure Stadiums are Built on Time

Ian Timlin, head of sport at Conexus Law explains how to make best use of the law to ensure your stadium is built on time, on budget, on spec and generating revenue.

If the mantra “Plan, plan and plan again and build in extra contingency” ever applied, it is in relation to the construction of stadiums.

As Bath Rugby Club are finding out in the Court of Appeal (hearing 5 Oct 2021), you need to start with the basics and establish whether you can legally do all that you want at the site. Bath Rugby Limited (“BRL”) hold a long lease of an area in the centre of Bath used for playing rugby and football, known as “the Rec” and are planning to develop that area. However, the beneficiaries of restrictive covenants in respect of the Rec obtained a High Court ruling in September 2020 preventing BRL’s proposed development. Hence their time consuming and costly visit to the Court of Appeal in late 2021.

In tandem with the above, whilst proper site surveys, scoping of works and funding and budgeting, consideration of any likely backlash to the development, getting all stakeholders on-board, getting the legal agreements in place in good time, having a realistic project programme and contingency on many fronts are required, we explore below other matters that are in our experience are unique to getting your stadium built on-time, on-budget, with satisfactory quality and so it generates revenue.

  • Normal expectations for competitive tendering do not apply. For example, you go out to 6 main contractors for competitive build costs. In our experience, for certain specialised packages of the build (eg seating) all 6 potential main contractors come back with seating prices from the same or say two seating sub-contractors because of the limited supply pool. So how do you get competitive and transparent pricing? You need transparency in the tender process to understand what makes up the pricing of the proposed main contractors’ packages. You may even need to obtain and pass on the results of your own investigations for bespoke packages to proposed main contractors, or adopt a procurement approach which is more akin to management contracting.
  • Very large bespoke packages only available from limited suppliers often need a long lead time depending on other stadia being constructed in your region/continent at any given time. The procurement of the seating package is paramount and must be given early consideration and priority as should complex M&E elements.
  • You must absolutely adhere to the requirements of the sports’ governing body for the stadium’s proposed use/s especially regarding the playing surface and arena configuration requirements or player’s facilities (eg the construction materials and measurements of a running track or dimensions of a football pitch and dressing rooms and hospitality).
  • The views of stakeholders (eg athletes, local residents, governing bodies, disability groups, emergency services, health and safety, hospitality, fans, tv and media, match day or event operations, non-match day revenue generation, future maintenance operations) must be canvassed early to decide what of their views and requirements can or need to be incorporated in the proposed development.
  • In respect of stakeholders, do not underestimate the impact of television, media and smart technology on your stadium. Facilities must be appropriate and future proofed to accommodate television, media and smart technology (eg smart turnstiles and hospitality and food and beverage offerings equipment and offerings) with more than adequate data connectivity.
  • The traditional legal tool to try and get any construction project delivered on time is liquidated damages – a pre-agreed daily/weekly amount to be paid to the employer by the contractor for late completion of the construction project. However, in our experience on a mission critical stadium construction project (eg the London Stadium for the 2012 Olympics), no amount of accrued daily/weekly liquidated damages (however large) is going to compensate for the stadium not being ready for its planned event. The reputational damage to the employer, governing body and contractor plus the costs of moving an event to another stadium does not bear thinking about (eg moving TV, media, officials, competitors, training grounds and accommodation to an alternative existing venue). So creative thinking needs to be brought to bear to this issue. For example, you may not engage the cheapest main contractor on price but the one with the largest reputation to protect and who demonstrates in the tender process the serious steps that it will take to protect its business reputation whatever.
  • Consequently, stadium construction must be subject to the tightest of regular programme management, an understanding of what is on the critical path at all times, accurate, truthful and honest information flows from the contractor to the employer and its professional consultants and vice versa, quick and straightforward dispute escalation and resolution processes. The project culture must be open and collaborative in actions as well as words and be backed up with adequate legal drafting in contractual documents if any party decides to deviate from that path. All team members should understand schedules and deadlines before construction begins.

The state of the art Tottenham Hotspur Stadium which opened late in April 2019 at a reported cost of circa £1billion (seating capacity of 62,850), being a multi-purpose stadium featuring the world’s first dividing retractable football pitch, which reveals a synthetic turf field underneath for NFL games in London, concerts and other events which includes smart tech such as the revolutionary bottom of the beer glass filling in the longest bar in Europe (65 metres), shows how far stadium have progressed and the trials and tribulations faced in their construction.

Contributors to this article were Ian Timlin, head of sport, Ed Cooke, Conexus managing partner and Earle Brady, specialist construction and engineering lawyer. Legal advice in the sports sector includes acting as one of the principal construction lawyers working for the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games; and advising two Premiership football clubs over a period of 15 years on construction and engineering projects in and around their stadia and including two significant stadia extension projects.

For further legal advice in the sport sector, please contact Ian Timlin via his contact details below.

Ian Timlin
Main: +44 (0)20 7390 0280
Mobile: +44 (0)77 6742 7332
[email protected]

Emma Cordiner on real estate legal skills for data centre acquisition

In this episode of Inside Data Centres, Emma Cordiner talks about the real estate legal skills required for data centre acquisition.

If you would like more information, please contact Emma Cordiner.

Cyber Security Interview with FMJ

Interview

The Queen’s Speech May 2021 – Legal Update

This year’s Queen’s Speech contained several points that are relevant to our clients and the sectors we operate in. We have pulled together a list of the relevant legislative proposals, some of which were already known about, or carried over from the previous parliamentary session. We will continue to monitor the progress of these and provide timely updates.

ADVANCED RESEARCH AND INVENTION AGENCY BILL

This Bill is about developing the Life Sciences sector so it attracts people and business from across the world. This includes increasing public expenditure on research and development to £22 billion and creating an Advanced Research and Invention Agency which will be focused on funding high-risk, high-reward research and development.

PLANNING REFORM

Reforming planning laws and improving building safety were central to the Queen’s Speech. The change in planning laws to increase the number of new houses being built was announced proposals for areas which will be designated for growth, protection or regeneration, with developments in growth areas being harder for local opponents to block. The speech also made reference to the ongoing overhaul of the Building Regulations system in the UK with The Building Safety Bill still going through parliament.

PRODUCT SECURITY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE BILL

This is designed to ensure that smart consumer products, including smartphones and televisions, are more secure against cyber-attacks, protecting individual privacy and security. It also includes a commitment to the roll out of 5G mobile data coverage and gigabit-capable broadband to support better telecommunications coverage and connectivity.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS (SECURITY) BILL

This will give the Government new powers designed to ensure the long-term security and resilience of the UK’s telecoms networks and infrastructure and minimising the threat of high-risk vendors. It will also strengthen the security and oversight of technology used in telecoms networks including the electronic equipment and software used across the network which handle internet traffic and telephone calls.

ONLINE SAFETY BILL

The Online Safety Bill has been highly publicised and aims ‘to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online’, improving protections for users, especially children, whilst protecting freedom of expression, making companies responsible for their users’ safety online, and supporting a thriving and fast-growing digital sector. This will likely mean working with the industry to ensure there are clear legal definitions of what constitutes harmful online content, setting out the responsibilities that companies of different sizes have to observe and establishing clear codes of practice.