Caroline Haccoun joined the legal department of Vinci Energies' Power & Mobility unit in September 2015. She tells us about her profession, which calls for versatility, creativity and exacting standards.
Tell us about your higher education.
I studied law, specialising in international business law, at the University of Aix-Marseille. I spent a year in London, which enabled me to learn English and get to know this multicultural metropolis.
Tell us about your profession.
I started my career in the industrial and engineering sectors, where I developed a taste for complex projects.
Today, I work in the Power & Mobility unit of Vinci Energies International & Systems. Like all the legal experts in the team, I work on Mobility's activities and am also involved in those of the Secure (site security), Énergies Renouvelables (wind turbines and photovoltaic renewable energy sources) and Power Plants (hydraulic power stations) departments. Discipline and versatility are of key importance, as we deal with major projects and high-risk activities. We are expected to achieve exacting standards.
As a legal expert, I am involved in the life cycle of a project from start to finish:
- Analysis of calls for tenders and the intended result in order to identify the risks involved. In public contracts, the margin for contractual negotiation is very limited, or even non-existent, so my role entails analysing the customer's contract. The situation is different for private contracts, for which I also have to examine the margin for contractual negotiation and put forward proposals.
- Assistance in negotiating contracts with the customer and partners (co-contractors, suppliers, subcontractors).
- Monitoring the performance of the contract, particular through participation in project reviews (providing advice in the preparation of correspondence, complaints, etc.).
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy its varied nature. At Mobility, the role is interesting as I am constantly learning and it never becomes repetitive. I also enjoy the fact that my role enables me to keep up with the business world and changes in that field.
Have you noticed changes in your role in recent years?
Market conditions have become more severe at every level, including legal, financial and technical.
From a contractual point of view, customers transfer more and more responsibility to contractors through performance commitments, participation in the funding of projects and, in particular, the development of turnkey contracts, in which the contractor is essentially responsible for everything.
In this context, we have to be even more creative and astute in order to protect our interests. Therefore, my role entails anticipating the risks and then monitoring them as the project progresses.
In addition, two major reforms in public and private sector contract law have been adopted this year. With regard to the private sector, this calls into question principles that date back to the Napoleonic code.
Getting to grips with these reforms, and the way in which they will be interpreted by the courts in coming years, is a major challenge for the entire profession.