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With a dearth of stable greenfield projects to keep firms busy in the UK, leading infrastructure outfits have been developing strong brownfield transactional practices, complemented by financing and dispute resolution capabilities.

Internationally, the Middle East remains a popular destination for energy, transport and water projects, with London-based teams also being engaged on projects in sub-Saharan Africa, South America and other emerging markets.

Domestically, fallout from the Carillion insolvency has been generating a substantial amount of work for firms including Clifford Chance, Dentons and Hogan Lovells, while the Grenfell tragedy has strengthened safety checks and standards in the housing sector.

Meanwhile, following several years of low prices and ‘hard times’, the oil and gas world has started to recover this year.

Oil prices have been creeping beyond $70 per barrel and firms are reporting a return of M&A transactions, investments and even some new projects.

A number of significant projects which had been put on hold during the downturn have now been given the green light and the cogs are turning once more.

Firms are also feeling the impact of US foreign policy doctrines, as they tighten anti-corruption and sanctions compliance demands - particularly in relation to  Russia and Iran.

This also applies to the mining and minerals space, where sanctions and regulatory compliance have always played a pivotal role in the rolling out of investments.

Another notable trend is the growing demand for rare materials such as lithium and cobalt which are used in the manufacturing of technologies such as automatic cars and batteries. This demand is driving capital towards challenging jurisdictions such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Renewable energy – long considered a standalone novelty of the energy market – has now become a staple for most leading power practices.

The domestic subsidies regime is still not providing much support for new projects, but firms are now seeing creative funding structures allowing for the establishment of the first subsidy-free builds. In the interim most outfits have developed expertise either in the financing of international projects, or the disposing and acquiring of assets on the domestic secondary market.

London teams are regularly appointed to advise on district heating schemes and energy-from-waste projects.

Apart from international work which tends to revolve around hydropower plants or sewage infrastructure, water experts are preoccupied with the upcoming regulatory changes. The upcoming pricing review facing the UK water market creates a significant demand for legal counsel among water companies, utility providers and the regulator itself.

With most players waiting until  new guidelines for the water sector become clear, there has been a dearth of new activity, with projects in the space including going work on the Thames Tideway project and a number of Ministry of Defence assignments.

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