Attractive as the Norwegian market may seem, there are obvious pitfalls and risks for new entrants. You have to understand the business culture, make the right connections and work within a predictable legal and business context. Avoiding unnecessary costs and time-consuming procedures is imperative.
SANDS is one of the leading law firms in Norway, with a strong position on construction law. SANDS has hands-on experience on legal issues from present and previous PPP projects in Norway, in addition to many other infrastructure projects.
SANDS offers a highly specialized team and a tailor-made concept to facilitate and assist international newcomers and companies already operational in the Norwegian market
SANDS is one of the leading law firms in Norway and with one of the largest group of experts on construction law. We represent a “one-stop-shopping” concept with access to a broad range of complementary legal services if needed.
SANDS has people with experience from the former three PPP projects in Norway – the contracts, cooperation, conflict solving and claims handling. We are legal advisors on major national projects within buildings and rail, air, road and sea infrastructure.
SANDS has a very extensive network with decision makers, both within the construction industry, with owners and in the public sector.
How do SANDS contribute?
- Staying close to client and project. SANDS has offices close to the projects - with strong local knowledge, including political insight, stakeholders, local interest groups and business networks. This prevents surprises and cultural/local misunderstandings throughout the project.
- Extended service concept. SANDS offers you an extended service concept encompassing legal and business disciplines like compliance, cultural understanding and lobbying, partnership search, taxation and insurance law, conflict resolution, negotiations – in short a complete one-stop package for a successful start-up on projects in Norway. Many of our staff is multilingual in addition to English.
- Business experience. SANDS has practical real-life experience from management positions with contractors and consultants. We are happy to provide you with a tool box ranging from simple services like office premises and formal start-up prerequisites to full fledge support throughout a building project.
- Dispute resolution. SANDS has special competence on dispute resolution, both through mediation and ordinary court procedures.
- Working environment and HSE. In all construction projects HSE is a constantly important issue. Avoiding accidents and preventing misbehavior are major concerns. SANDS advise on HSE processes and assist on possible conflicts.
- Knowledge sharing. Our lawyers actively contribute to the development of Norwegian contract law, through the development of new contract types and as a driving force in the digitalization of construction processes and we are pleased to share this knowledge with our clients.
This is the age of mega construction projects, says Mr. Geir Frøholm, partner and manager of SANDS’ construction lawyers.
Prepared to assist on all construction projects
By participating on the large construction projects from the very start to the final stages, SANDS is assisting clients to avoid the traditional conflicts normally associated with attorneys. A better role for us - more profitable for the client, states Geir Frøholm
- This is the age of the mega construction projects, says Mr. Geir Frøholm
- Projects are being increasingly larger. Contractual structures are getting more complex. SANDS ambition is to be partner with our client right from the start and be able to manage legal issues and prevent conflicts early in the project. By allocating more resources in designing the contract, time, money and conflict level is minimized to the benefit of the client.
Attorneys with a practical touch.
Geir Frøholm is building one of Norway’s fastest growing centers of excellence within Construction Law. He started in SANDS after almost two decades with Schjødt where he was responsible for the same legal area. Geir has introduced many new strong names to SANDS with a strong ambition and interest for Construction Law. All new employees receive a helmet as a symbol for working with construction industry.
- That helmet is an important symbol. The basic objective for every construction lawyer is that we shall help our clients to avoid the risks and failures experienced by predecessors. This can only be achieved by people who have real life experience. Myself, I am increasingly working hands-on with a practical touch. We give all new employees this symbolic helmet and send them out where the action is instead of sitting at the office writing letters, says Mr. Frøholm
We are experiencing a historical peak in Norway’s financial performance these days. We are producing buildings and infrastructure which are going to last for generations. In the National Transport Plan more than one thousand billion NOKs are allocated for new projects the coming years. In 2017, 60 billion NOKs will be spent for infrastructure projects. The size and complexity of contracts are increasing. Large projects with contractors participating already in the initial phases becomes more common. These are the contracts SANDS is working on, explains Mr. Frøholm:
- SANDS has been working with PPP projects both regarding roads, schools, hospitals as well as rail, HVAC and cultural buildings. In order to serve the client in the best possible way, you need to provide sufficient capacity and quality to manage the project through a complete life-cycle, says Mr. Frøholm.
The art of conflict resolution
Traditionally, construction law has been dominated by barristers, entering the case when the conflict has not been possible to solve by negotiations. SANDS has a very competent team of barristers, but increasingly we try to solve conflicts before it ends in the court-room.
- I have expressed my attitude and skepticism of placing focus on court procedures, not least because of the high costs and focus on the conflict as such and less on conflict resolution. The Norwegian Bar Association now wants to encourage mediation as an alternative to solve conflicts before the costs escalate and front-lines are impossible to soften up, Mr. Frøholm says.
Mr. Frøholm‘s objective is to build a team which is perceived by the client as constructive to solve conflicts with mediation and other alternatives – see also www.mekling.no.
- We want to develop long-term client relationships by staying close to the project. Needless to say, our aim is to make a profit, but this shall not disclose that a client can call us without being invoiced for every minute, says Mr. Frøholm.
Mr, Frøholm’s experience is that the earlier SANDS is invited into a project, the better are the long-term results.
-Today, constructors and designers are employed also in the planning and initial phases of the project, they are involved to develop procurement processes and facts, continue through building processes and finally hand-over of the finished project. SANDS assists throughout the different stages. By being a partner early in the project, we obtain knowledge and experience making it possible to avoid pit-falls.
Participation means responsibilty
When SANDS is participating in the life-cycle of a project, this also implies higher responsibility. You need to have the attitude and understanding of a “managing director” since construction law quite often will influence other legal areas:
-It is our job to provide a strategic perspective. In SANDS public procurement issues are part of the construction law team since these are so interrelated. Myself, I have been working with planning and building law, which has been very useful in connection to construction law issues. In Norway, also employment law and HSE is very important for the authorities. We have been building competence in these disciplines, states Mr. Frøholm.
On the spot
In SANDS, we are proud of our local presence with offices in major Norwegian cities.
- Our strong local presence is unique and a benefit for SANDS. We know the local communities and understand how legal situations are perceived by the inhabitants and decision makers. We have a lot of experience and strong networks. We know the authorities and what the situation is like out there regarding regulations, previous decisions and conflicts etc. This gives a good dialogue and trust with local authorities when we are involved, says Mr. Frøholm.
For a foreign company, it can be difficult to enter the Norwegian market. Our local knowledge and holistic approach on construction projects has put SANDS into a position to assist international clients in the best possible manner.
- We have developed a program where we lead the international client “by hand” through this process. Myself, I have long and substantial experience with this. As for Norwegian clients:
Good planning and legal footwork early in the project saves a lot of “blood, sweat and money” in the end.