International Construction Contracts and the FIDIC Red Book: A New Important Commentary

AuthorBy Christopher Seppala
Published in The Construction Lawyer Volume 43, Number 1, ©2024 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with
permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any
means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.
Forum on Construction Law The Construction Lawyer Volume 43, Number 1
International Construction Contracts and the
FIDIC Red Book: A New Important Commentary By
Christopher Seppala
By Philip L. Bruner
Philip L. Bruner,, is the co-author, with Patrick J. O’Conner, of Bruner and
O’Connor on Construction Law, and received the 2005 Cornerstone Award of the Forum on Construction
Law. He is an arbitrator and mediator and the director of the JAMS Global Engineering and Construction
Panel of Neutrals. (See his CV at
American lawyers representing clients in international construction disputes under contract terms
referencing the FIDIC Red Book should acquaint themselves promptly with the newly published The
FIDIC Red Book Contract: An International Clause-by-Clause Commentary (Wolters Kluwer 2023). The
FIDIC Red Book currently is the world’s most widely used set of international construction contract terms
and conditions.
This comprehensive book is authored in its entirety by the distinguished Parisian lawyer Christopher R.
Seppala, who is one of the world’s leading experts on FIDIC contracts through his service for more than
30 years as legal adviser to the FIDIC Contracts Committee of the International Federation of Consulting
Engineers (known by its French acronym FIDIC). Mr. Seppala also brings his own international
background to his work, having been born and schooled in England, educated at Harvard College
and Columbia Law School, and admitted to the New York and Parisian Bars. In 1988 he founded the
international arbitration practice of the Paris office of White and Case and since then has devoted his
career to contract dispute resolution.
Throughout the 1414 pages of his heavily footnoted book, Mr. Seppala not only provides a detailed
analysis of each clause of the FIDIC Red Book as updated in 2022, but offers commentary on a host of
other subjects important to gaining a more complete understanding of the FIDIC Red Book, such as:
(1) the history of the FIDIC Red Book from its English origins and language modeled upon the
conditions of contract promulgated by the United Kingdom’s Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE);
(2) the many universal legal principles applicable to construction contracts, starting with a com-
parison of principles based on distinctive features of common law (primarily UK and commonwealth
countries) and civil law, together with the 2016 UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial
Contracts (of which he was a member of the working group). His analysis includes key concepts,
such as the duty of good faith, duty of disclosure, defense of non-performance (similar to the US’s
“rst material breach” doctrine), notice of default, contract termination, liquidated damages, force
majeure and hardship, limitation of damages, trade usages, and others;
(3) the common law and civil law approaches to contract legal interpretation; and
(4) dispute resolution of international construction disputes under FIDIC’s prescribed Dispute
Avoidance/Adjudication Board (DAAB).

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