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Dr. C. Haward Soper, Honorary Associate Professor of Law at the University of Leicester, UK, published his latest book, Commercial Expectations and Cooperation in Symbiotic Contracts in February 2020, and reviewers are already commenting!

Reviewers believe his book will arouse high interest from contract and commercial management (CCM) professionals and its appeal to legal and commercial practitioners is equally certain.

The book explores the role CCM practitioners play in the law and in management of modern, complex contracts. In considerable depth, Haward contrasts case law with a large-scale, empirical study of the views of commercial and contract managers overseeing outcomes of these contracts.

As he expounds upon this, several points become clear:

  • The author believes that aligning the law with effective management requires a deep contractual duty for all parties to cooperate in a manner that can be described as constructive engagement.
  • He reveals how this might translate into constructive communication, professional governance, genuine attempts to settle issues (including disputes and misunderstandings), a right to fix defects and a duty to take decisions in a fair and rational manner.
  • He argues that Parliament should extend statutory adjudication to all commercial contracts and that Courts should be more ambitious about using available remedies, including those for prevention and cost penalties. This he believes would help provide incentives for parties to cooperate more fully.

In reviewing Haward’s book, Tim Cummins, President of IACCM, commented on the value of the author’s insights in answering critical challenges that have gone unanswered far too long.

Tim said, “Contracts are key to business survival. And yet, given the prevalence of contracts, isn’t it ironic how little information exists about the practical use and impact of contracts? We spend many hours in their negotiation, but does it matter? We pay extensive fees to lawyers for their preparation, but is it worthwhile? We send millions of contract managers to oversee the process of contract management, but is it effective?

“Haward offers many thought-provoking insights into modern contracting and relationship management. He brings valuable knowledge and understanding to those who are charged with establishing agreements and making them work – so that the world is indeed ‘held together by contracts’.

“The book is based on extensive and wide-ranging conversations and surveys involving those from the front line – the lawyers, contract managers and commercial managers, engineers, project managers and other professionals who prepare, negotiate and manage thousands of these contracts.

Business relationships are becoming more complex, yet underlying legal principles and methods have not fully adapted.  Haward reveals the importance of the contracting ritual, but the reluctance of parties to then invoke their legal rights when things start to go wrong. He reveals that there are typically high levels of cooperation as the parties seek to build common ground and establish a firm footing for their relationship. And he makes a compelling case for these two aspects to be better integrated.”  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Haward Soper is a commercial/contracts specialist who worked in engineering and manufacturing for some 35 years. He graduated in Law in 1981 and his first role was with British Shipbuilders working in a project environment , building a semi-submersible oil exploration vessel, providing commercial support to members of the project team.

He then moved to McDermott International in Ardersier, negotiating and drafting complex subcontracts for fabricated structures and systems for jackets and topsides for the North Sea. After that he worked for NEI on a power station project in India, from where he moved to GEC; where he became a Company Secretary (accidentally), then Contracts Manager. Then when GEC sold the business to Alstom he became a Director and then Vice President Commercial of a £250M, business, progressing to General Counsel of Alstom’s UK Power business, then headed up contracting, from Duisburg, for Siemens’ $6Bn Oil and Gas Division, finally working for Shell in the Hague and Kuala Lumpur as Head Contract Management in the Far East, Middle East and Australasia.

He then retired in 2014, started a PhD in 2015, graduating in 2018. Dr Soper now spends his time between watching Leicestershire County Cricket Club trying to get off the bottom of the County Championship, cooking breakfast for the homeless in Leicester, and travelling the world; all the time doing some academic research.


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