The Chevron Way: How Does their Legal Team Work?
Given his past construction law experience in private practice, Arjun Agarwal tasked with managing the majority of Chevron’s construction disputes and international arbitrations on Chevron’s major capital projects outside of North America. With Chevron Corporation being a multinational energy corporation, we find out all about Arjun’s roles as Senior Counsel and how he thinks construction…
Given his past construction law experience in private practice, Arjun Agarwal tasked with managing the majority of Chevron’s construction disputes and international arbitrations on Chevron’s major capital projects outside of North America. With Chevron Corporation being a multinational energy corporation, we find out all about Arjun’s roles as Senior Counsel and how he thinks construction disputes on major projects will develop over the next years.
What would you say a typical day for you in Chevron looks like?
A “typical” day for me and others in my group is characteristically atypical! The ambit of our jobs requires quite a lot of travel. Our Chevron clients and outside counsel are typically located overseas. Accordingly, we are quite often on a plane traveling to countries around the world where Chevron have operations.
What does Chevron consider when looking to hire outside counsel for a construction dispute?
The construction disputes I manage can generally be characterised as involving: (1) complex and sophisticated issues of delay and quantum; (2) hundreds of individual change order requests/claims; and (3) large sums of money in dispute. Accordingly, when hiring outside counsel, we are looking for lawyers who are first and foremost experienced construction disputes specialists. Extra points if they have demonstrated experience in international construction arbitrations. Management of mega-construction disputes in the international arbitration arena do require special skill sets and, accordingly, we generally look for outside counsel who are experienced in that environment but who can also bring a practical and value-based perspective.
How do you see the world of construction disputes evolving in the next ten years?
One of the striking developments over the last ten years has been the increased size and complexity of construction disputes. Managing sophisticated disputes with the potential for significant exposure requires complete alignment between the internal client, the in-house legal team, and outside counsel. Early development of a case strategy and implementation of that strategy during the course of what can be a multiple year dispute process ensures value-based case management and “successful” outcomes.
What has been your most challenging construction dispute as of yet, and how did you use your expertise to work around it?
I think the most challenging disputes are those where the dispute ceases to be about the traditional nuts and bolts of construction issues (delay, quantum and performance of the work) but rather is driven by one party feeling “wronged.” These types of disputes make it difficult for the parties to find commercial resolutions in lieu of formal proceedings. At Chevron, we endeavour to view disputes as objectively as possible and to always try and evaluate contractor claims within the context of the contract at-issue and the applicable governing law. Early and independent claim evaluation is best-practice. Where possible, we (legal) get involved during the project’s life-cycle to assess potential or actual claims in real-time to provide our project management personnel and executives a considered and objective view on potential strengths, risks and exposure for the company.
Senior Counsel – Litigation
a division of Chevron, U.S.A. Inc.
6001 Bollinger Canyon Road, B1048
San Ramon, CA 94583
My name is Arjun Agarwal. I am Senior Counsel in the Upstream Non-US Litigation group at Chevron. My colleagues and I are responsible for managing pre-litigation, litigation, disputes and investigations stemming from Chevron’s non-US Upstream operations. The group’s case docket includes a variety of matters including commercial disputes, construction, labour and employment, international arbitrations involving other International Oil Companies as well as foreign governments, contractors, insurance, personal injury and property damage. Our group interacts with external counsel located all over the world and are responsible for ensuring that all litigation matters are handled in compliance with all applicable laws and are managed efficiently and in a cost-effective manner consistent with Chevron’s Objectives-Based Litigation Technique (COBALT®), which is a structured and disciplined technique for achieving reliability, efficiency and world class performance in litigation management.
We’re one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies producing safe, reliable energy now and for the future. Our success is driven by our people and their commitment to getting results the right way – by operating responsibly, executing with excellence, applying innovative technologies and capturing new opportunities for profitable growth.