CONSULTANTS, CONTRACTORS and lawyers will next week publicly urge the Hong Kong government to end its refusal to underwrite unforeseen ground risks on civil engineering projects.
They are expected to warn that continued failure to accept this risk will see the government lose control of its construction costs.
In a move calculated to bring maximum pressure on officials, a conference will be held in Hong Kong to highlight industry support for a government commissioned report backing the change.
Although the report was finished two years ago, the government has so far only circulated it to a select group of industry leaders. It has also clearly opposed recommendations that it take on unforeseen ground risk.
Next week's conference is backed by the Hong Kong Association of Consulting Engineers, Hong Kong Construction Association, Hong Kong Institution of Engineers and the surveyors' and architects' bodies.
Speakers include the report's author and leading US construction lawyer Jesse Grove. Conference chairman is Arthur Marriott QC, a partner at international law firm Debevoise & Plimpton.
In a copy of the report seen by NCE, Grove argues: 'On a practical level, contractors refuse to accept that this risk should be born by them. If forced to accept the risk, they will strive mightily to offset the burden. Excessive claimsmanship and adversarial conduct can be expected. This creates a breeding ground for disputation and its notorious consumption of resources.'
But in an appendix to the report the Hong Kong government argues that it could be exposed to expensive legal action if it were to take on the risk. Instead it has said it will tighten up design checks and suggested that 2% of the value of a project could be set aside for site investigations ahead of contract award.