During this political season, “Change” has become the mantra. In January 2009, the Fidelity & Surety Law Committee is fully embracing “Change”, returning to a familiar location for the MidWinter Meeting, while boldly engaging two d a y s o f c u t t i n g - e d g e t o p i c s o n c o n s t r u c t i o n , f i d e l i t y , a n d s u r e t y s h i p o v e r t w o f u l l d a y s i n N e w Y o r k C i t y .
To comfort those of us who tend to gravitate toward the familiar, MWM 2009, the 75th Anniversary of the Fidelity & Surety Law Committee, returns to The Waldorf=Astoria, the grand hotel on Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. The Waldorf=Astoria, an Art Deco masterpiece that was once the world’s largest hotel, opened in 1931, only a few years before the inception of the Fidelity & Surety Law Committee. The Waldorf=Astoria retains its status as an official New York City Landmark and will serve, once again, as the location to see old friends and renew acquaintances.
While returning to a familiar haunt, MWM 2009 will be challenging the status quo on other fronts. Rather than the usual Friday program of surety and fidelity topics, MWM 2009 will instead be two days of education and presentations from construction, fidelity, and surety leaders. Thursday and Friday were almost not enough time to present the fascinating topics chosen this year. Although the schedule is new, you can still expect to receive the very best continuing legal education available anywhere. Buckle your seatbelts; we are in for a thought provoking, sensationally educational ride!
The topic of MWM 2009, “Public-Private Partnerships, Co-Suretyship, and Co-Insurance: Managing Risk Within Joint Ventures in Construction, Surety, and Fidelity,” speaks to Change, especially with respect to how America will confront and address overwhelming infrastructure needs in the near and long term, and how sureties and insurers manage high-exposure, mega risk/reward projects. Public entities across America face the challenge of a crumbling infrastructure on a daily basis, including bridges in desperate need of repair, overloaded highways, aging transportation systems, and deteriorating school and waste treatment facilities. To address the growing problems, governments around the world and state and local governments in America are looking to the private sector for financing, design, construction, and operation of infrastructure projects. From the sale of the Chicago Skyway to a multitude of transportation, education, water and waste treatment projects throughout the country, public-private partnerships (PPPs) are emerging as models for how infrastructure shortfalls will be addressed, now and in the foreseeable future.
Those interested in fidelity will get the first opportunity to see how these mega projects and insuring public entities present unique legal issues and risks that must be both understood and managed. These long term projects and the structure of public bodies often create unique risks as public officials, concessionaires and operators seek to collect, handle and distribute the public’s funds.
Moreover, the sheer scope of PPPs and other large projects where exposure must be spread, present issues with respect to the management of the risk, including co-suretyship and co-insurance risks. At MWM 2009, you will hear from industry leaders on the fundamentals and characteristics of successful PPPs, including perspectives from public owners, contractors, sureties, and private equity. In the spirit of the political season, “Debate 2009: What Public-Private Partnerships Mean for America’s Future” is not to be missed.
Co-chaired by Mike Pipkin and Scott Schmookler, the mornings will be filled with plenary sessions, followed by afternoon breakout sessions, further exploring surety and construction topics arising out of PPPs. From a fidelity perspective, the Thursday afternoon breakout sessions will focus on the unique and complicated risks public entity insurers face, and the legal issues arising under fidelity bonds and faithful performance coverages issued to public entities. Friday morning’s program will turn to co-suretyship, co-insurance, and excess insurance, addressing the unique legal and practical issues a surety/fidelity insurer faces when handling claims involving multiple insurers/sureties. That afternoon, in addition to more sessions on PPPs and the new wave of “green” construction, there will be continued sessions on issues arising out of co-insurance and excess insurance and a panel discussion on handling of claims involving coinsurance and excess insurance.
I also want to remind all of you of our year-long, public service, Organ Donor project. For those of you who are not already Organ Donors, we will be there to help you bring happiness and life to others who are in desperate need of our help. Our volunteers will be present to assist you in “signing up” to help those who cannot otherwise help themselves. I urge all of you to help make this effort a smashing success. Let’s do our part to show that the legal community cares about others!
Of course, Change can only go so far, and MWM 2009 will not be entirely without some of the educational and social events with which we have all become accustomed. The “new” tradition of FSLC business meetings on Wednesday, January 21, 2009, will precede the Young Professionals Subcommittee’s “Dutch Treat” dinner, followed by the new tradition of their annual poker tournament (giving another meaning to the word “change”). Thursday and Friday’s agenda also include events sponsored by UPBEAT and our Women’s Subcommittee. Of course, the traditional Thursday Welcome Reception and the annual FSLC Luncheon on Friday are not to be missed. Finally our “Spouses Event” promises to be very enlightening with a special visit to one of the “Big Apple’s” landmarks.
Please register now, and remember to make your room reservations at The Waldorf=Astoria as soon as possible. I look forward to seeing all of you at “the Clock.”
With highest regards, E. A. “Seth” Mills, Jr. Chair, Fidelity & Surety Law Committee Mills Paskert Divers Tampa, FL