Australia: Corrs High Vis: Episode 17 - Key takeaways from the SOCLA national conference

A 'New Wave' of infrastructure growth is taking place across Australia – what does this mean for construction professionals?

In our latest Corrs High Vis podcast, Partner Shaun Bailey, Senior Associate Jaclyn Masters and Associate Raeesa Rawal discuss the key takeaways from the Society of Construction Law Australia's National Conference, 'A New Wave', held on the Gold Coast in July.

Brought to you by Corrs' Construction team, the Corrs High Vis podcast series tackles the issues that matter in the construction industry, offering you analysis and insights to help you make smarter decisions.

Jaclyn Masters: Commentator – Corrs Chambers Westgarth – Senior Associate, Melbourne

Shaun Bailey: Corrs Chambers Westgarth – Construction Partner, Sydney

Raeesa Rawal: Corrs Chambers Westgarth – Associate, Sydney (on secondment – Germany, Gleiss Lutz)

JACLYN: Hello and welcome to High Vis, the Corrs Chambers Westgarth Construction podcast. My name is Jaclyn Masters and I'm a senior associate in the construction team here at Corrs. Late last month, the Society of Construction Law Australia held its national conference on the Gold Coast with the theme of the conference being the new wave capturing the new wave of infrastructure growth taking place across the country. To speak to some of the key takeaways from the conference and what they mean for clients in the construction industry, I am joined today by my colleagues, Shaun Bailey, a partner in our Sydney team and Raeesa Rawal, an associate in our Sydney team currently on secondment in Germany at Gleiss Lutz. Raeesa, along with Antoine Smiley, was the recipient of the 2017 Brooking Prize essay competition for the paper "Locked Behind Time Bars". So welcome to both Raeesa and Shaun.

Shaun, we heard some exciting presentations on a range of topics facing Australia in the construction industry. What were some of the key themes that you saw emerging from the conference?

SHAUN: What really stood out was the desire to embrace new technology. It wasn't just the construction professionals either. It's also their professional advisors and the discussion wasn't just about looking for different ways to do things. Technological advancement was discussed as a pathway to transformational change in how we live, where we live and what we do. This wasn't a barren detached discussion of the law by any means.

JACLYN: The keynote address at the conference looked at the development of the Hyperloop and the efficiencies it offers in the transport sector. Shaun, why do you think this is a particularly exciting development for Australia?

SHAUN: Once again, it's the Sydney/Melbourne corridor that came up for discussion. For more than 30 years now we've been talking about servicing the corridor with high speed rail. All of a sudden, new technologies are now knocking at the door and we heard from Sean Duggan of Ultraspeed Australia who really challenged the orthodox view of what our future might look like. Just imagine the ability to move people on this corridor in under an hour between the Sydney/Melbourne CBDs. Extending the corridor to Newcastle and Geelong and passing through Port Botany you're really adding freight and containers to the mix. Technology is the economic enabler here. Take friction out of the equation with magnetic levitation and guidance, take aerodynamic resistance out of the equation by running the pods through low pressure tubes and Ultraspeed is talking about speeds over a 1000kmh. This is 2˝ times faster than high speed rail. That kind of speed opens up Shepparton, Wagga and Albury/Wodonga and their surrounding districts as dormitory suburbs for work and projects in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. Indeed, it also opens up the economic opportunity for those rural towns along the corridor. Another aspect that I found to be of great interest is that Ultraspeed is talking about lower land take than high speed rail. Capital costs of up to 25% less than high speed rail. Operational costs of up to 60% less than high speed rail. Fast construction times and lower maintenance requirements.

JACLYN: One of the sessions that I found particularly interesting at the conference was the data analytics session that KordaMentha delivered. Many of our construction industry clients may be aware of the use of data analytics in a disputes context with it being utilised on platforms like Ringtail. One of the opportunities that was mentioned at the conference was that this can now be used to monitor projects in real time to avoid claims or prepare claims as they're occurring. This promises some real commercial and cost saving opportunities for clients in this area. Shaun, what were some of your thoughts on this?

SHAUN: Well I must confess that I've sometimes been a little sceptical about some of the grander claims associated with the rise of technology so I found the discussion to be quite thought provoking. Artificial intelligence was really at the heart of the discussion. The common thread that ran through the presentations was technology being used to drive productivity gains, cost reduction and to improve workplace safety. We saw some examples at site level of the kind of technology that is being used such as body sensors that detect physical risks that can lead to injury and sickness. Laing O'Rourke's toolbox spotter was also interesting - apparently it assists in detecting people on railway lines. This was a very practical example of the beneficial use of technology. Driver Trett's discussion concerning the application of IATA project planning was also fascinating. To my mind, the use of principles and processes that are derived from nature to develop algorithms that underline modern AI really start to distinguish these processes from simple logic based coding exercises. We heard about the Darrell and Wallace derived genetic algorithm, the Ant algorithm which apparently is modelled on the processes used by ants to map out routes to their food sources and we heard about particle swarm optimisation which is based on the behaviour of swarming animals. We saw an example of how some of these models can be used in optimising project scheduling. What was particularly interesting was the impact on scheduling once the concept of mutation was introduced into the analysis. Driver Trett showed us that while such an analysis couldn't guarantee that a project would be delivered on time it could clearly optimise the mitigation of the impact of a delay. Not only could this assist some project planners to develop better outcomes but it is also of great assistance in testing whether the mitigation offered is truly best for project and value for money. Perhaps of more direct interest to the lawyers was the discussion on predictive coding in construction litigation. As Justice Vickery, Jenny Baker, Alicia Whey and Heidi Swickert pointed out predictive coding when implemented thoughtfully has the potential to reduce litigation costs dramatically directly through the reduction and discovery cost and indirectly through the greater accuracy is achieved. Justice Vickery's 2016 decision in McConnell Dowell Constructions Australia and Santam (No. 1) looked at the question and endorsed the benefits of predictive coding in appropriate circumstances. This is great news for litigants in the event that they're able to work together in search of mutual benefit.

JACLYN: And what about the use of AI on projects? Are construction lawyers going to become obsolete?

SHAUN: Never! As artificial intelligence grows and learns it's becoming a great tool to assist us. It's helping us to reach greater accuracy in all manner of research. It's helping us with new ways of addressing problems, understanding the data available to us and in doing so we're increasing efficiency but as construction lawyers I think that we're so much more than just technical analysts. We do more than just give an answer to a question. We exercise judgment on esoteric notions such as reasonableness, fairness, good faith and the equities of a situation which so often inform the outcome. We're strategists, we're project managers, we understand the human element whether it be the business relationship that's in play or whether it's working out how best to deal with personalities. I think that the technology will help us to do more, to do it better and to do it for less.

JACLYN: One of the other presentations that really stood out during the conference was delivered by Dr Sean Brady and Dr Brady looked at how we make judgments based on the prism of our expertise be that as lawyers or engineers or other professions. Shaun what did you take from Dr Brady's presentation?

SHAUN: Dr Brady often seems to run the first conference session on a Saturday morning. It's just as well that he's such an engaging speaker. With such a technological focus to the conference, Dr Brady reminded us of the need for human intellectual input and the need for that input to be effective. Dr Brady spoke of a structural collapse brought about by ineffective computerised structural calculations. The computer didn't get the answer wrong rather the operator fed it the wrong input. At one level this might support the notion whether we're better off placing our future into the hands of artificial intelligence with a view to avoiding such mistakes but I was surprised to learn that apparently even the fastest computers struggle to match the speed of the human brain to undertake calculations. What I took from Dr Brady was that as new technologies emerge we need to understand how our thinking is primed to respond to a given situation and we need to be prepared to challenge our own thinking.

JACLYN: Raeesa, if we can turn to you now. We were fortunate to hear both yourself and Antoine Smiley present your Brooking Prize winning paper "Locked Behind Time Bars". We're seeing time bars as a particularly pertinent issue in the context of the John Murray National Security of Payment Legislation Review this year. Can you tell us a little bit about what prompted you and Antoine to write this paper?

RAEESA: Thanks Jaclyn. Antoine Smiley and I had previously researched time bars in-depth. Like many construction lawyers, this is necessary to provide advice to clients who frequently come up against these causes or seek to enforce them, sometimes with quite harsh consequences. When held up against other areas of contract law which prevents such harsh outcomes such as the doctrine of penalties it occurred to us that this was an area in which a better balance could be struck through tailored legislation.

JACLYN: And Raeesa what is the key message that comes out of your paper?

RAEESA: In essence, the paper proposes a model for legislative intervention in the area of time bars. It takes the reader on a journey and begins by looking at the judicially recognised purpose of time bars and then the common ways that claimants seek to overcome them. We point out that a time bar is always enforceable as a term of contract and so the ways to escape their consequences are merely techniques to circumvent rather than cut down a time bar. Absent these narrow methods of circumvention, time bars remain enforceable regardless of their consequences. We then take the reader across the world looking at other jurisdictions and how they deal with time bars and whether there are lessons to be learned from them. We also look at the experience in other industries in Australia where legislature has chosen to intervene in a market and prohibit or limit the effect of setting contractual clauses. Our paper concludes with the proposed legislative model that seeks to introduce a safety net to aid a claimant in those harsher cases. The model seeks to strike a balance between, on one hand, the party's freedom of contract and the important purpose the time bar serve in a construction contract and on the other hand, the need to provide a remedy against the imposition of a time bar without recognised purposes not being served at all. Antoine and I will be discussing our paper in further detail in an upcoming Corrs High Vis podcast.

JACLYN: Thank you for joining me today Shaun and Raeesa. To our listeners, we hope you will join us again for the next episode of Corrs High Vis.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Chambers Asia Pacific Awards 2016 Winner – Australia
Client Service Award
Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (WGEA)

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.