UK Bar: Construction 2018

Our most detailed look yet at the UK construction Bar has revealed 90 outstanding barristers who handle an array of disputes concerning some of the most significant projects in the UK and worldwide, including major matters in the Middle East.

Most Highly Regarded
1. Marcus Taverner QC Keating Chambers
2. David Streatfeild-James QC Atkin Chambers
3. Sean Brannigan QC 4 Pump Court
4. Roger Stewart QC 4 New Square
5. Adam Constable QC Keating Chambers
6. Stuart Catchpole QC 39 Essex Chambers
1. Calum Lamont Keating Chambers
2. Rupert Choat Atkin Chambers
3. James Bowling 4 Pump Court

Mainly acting as arbitrator

Several leading construction arbitrators are based at KEATING CHAMBERS.
Tim Elliott QC is recommended for his standout expertise as an arbitrator in construction cases. Sources say: “Tim is a very fair tribunal member who is considered, takes points on board and is very quick.”
Stephen Furst QC is a superb arbitrator who is “experienced and excellent for technical cases”, according to sources. One barrister adds: “He is a reliable person to have on your tribunal.”
Richard Fernyhough QC is regarded as “perhaps the best arbitrator currently working in the construction field”, according to one solicitor, who adds: “Nothing gets past him and his very quick mind.”

 “Outstanding arbitrator” Andrew Bartlett QC at CROWN OFFICE CHAMBERS is a “very, very bright bloke” who is “super on top of things as an arbitrator and really thorough”. He boasts more than 25 years’ experience in the role and has presided in disputes under an array of rules including ICC, UNCITRAL and ARIAS.

Richard Wilmot-Smith QC of 39 ESSEX CHAMBERS is highlighted as “a very solid arbitrator who understands the issues and brings rigour into the arbitration world”. Another source says: “Richard asks all the right questions; he just has that killer question that helps resolve and focus the issues. I would recommend him to anyone as an arbitrator.”

Douglas Jones AO at ATKIN CHAMBERS is a leading light as an arbitrator in construction disputes worldwide. Sources say: “He is very well organised in dealing with procedural matters and very knowledgeable on international construction matters.”

Mainly acting as counsel


Top construction set KEATING CHAMBERS dominates this year’s listings, with its barristers comprising more than 40 per cent of all silks listed. Its 23 QCs in our listings are seven more than rival Atkin Chambers.
“Amazing advocate” Marcus Taverner QC stands atop our listings this year, with sources calling him “a class act who gets rave reviews”. One peer states: “He is a top name and one of the best senior silks in the market. He has infectious energy and enthusiasm and is a great man to have in your corner.”
Adam Constable QC is a “very tenacious” advocate, according to one instructing solicitor, while others describe him as “a safe pair of hands who is really leading the field”. He is noted for his work in both litigation and arbitration and is experienced at handling offshore cases.
Commentators call Alexander Nissen QC a “creative thinker and an excellent lawyer”, while one describes him as “the man with two brains”. One source comments: “He is honestly brilliant. The way he manages a team is very impressive in difficult cases.”
David Thomas QC is a “very big name in the Middle East” for complex construction disputes in the region. He is also noted for his “very effective cross-examination”.
John Marrin QC is an “outstanding arbitrator” who is “indisputably one of the top names” in the market. He is also well known for his work as counsel and receives plaudits from the market for his recent victory in the Supreme Court in MT Højgaard v E.ON Climate & Renewables UK, concerning a wind turbine project in the Solway Firth.
Simon Hargreaves QC is highlighted by impressed sources as “a very user-friendly and strategic” counsel, whom interviewees also call “a big thinker”. He handles a wide array of disputes and also acts as an adjudicator on PFI matters.
New silk Lucy Garrett QC is an “outstanding, first-class” barrister who has extensive experience in major arbitrations in the construction industry. Says one source: “She is very clever, very hands-on and very client-friendly. They all love her and for good reason.”
Jonathan Selby QC is a “very clear, focused advocate with a natural sense of humour” who is “really bright and very effective at what he does”. His depth of construction expertise is coupled with “a very dogged approach which clients love”.

ATKIN CHAMBERS also performs extremely well in the research this year with a superb roster of silks in the construction field. In total, 16 leading QCs are highlighted.
David Streatfeild-James QC is “at the top of the tree”, says one instructing solicitor, who adds: “David’s ability as an advocate is unparalleled in the construction Bar at present.” He has wide-ranging international experience across disputes involving bridges, roads and shopping centres among others.
Andrew White QC impresses all who come across him, with fellow barristers calling him a “formidable opponent” who does “all the hard work”, while solicitors highlight his “extraordinary attention to detail and diligence” as well as his “acute strategic brain” and “very smooth advocacy”.
The “absolutely excellent” Nicholas Dennys QC is a “highly experienced construction counsel with a superb reputation in both the UK and Hong Kong”. In addition to this extensive advocacy experience, he also appears as arbitrator in a range of complex disputes.
Stephen Dennison QC is “an absolutely class advocate” who is “worthy of inclusion” in the listings according to interviewees. He has notable experience in the mining and shipbuilding sectors as well as on infrastructure projects.
Christopher Lewis QC is described as “absolutely first-rate in every way; a fantastic advocate who is great on the detail”. Although a new silk in 2017, sources point out that “he has been operating at that level for a long time”.
Stephanie Barwise QC is widely respected by both colleagues and adversaries, with sources variously commenting that “she is great to work with” as well as “an outstanding opponent”. They add: “She is really focused on achieving a good outcome for the client and facilitates a good negotiation between the parties.”
Manus McMullan QC is another standout name at the set whose “ability to comprehend complex issues is at an expert level”, according to commentators. His truly international practice includes deep expertise in arbitration as well as major litigation.

Excellent civil and commercial set 4 PUMP COURT performs well, with six silks listed in this edition.
Sean Brannigan QC is an “outstanding” name who is “extraordinarily well known and fantastic”, according to peers. Sources praise his witness handling skills, commenting “I’ve seen him do an excellent job getting witnesses on the other side to agree with anything he has to say”, while others highlight his “practical and pragmatic solutions for clients”.
“Very clear and calm advocate” Alexander Hickey QC “comes across very well” and is “excellent at witness handling”. His broad-based practice covers a range of construction issues and he has acted as both counsel and arbitrator in ICC arbitrations.
Lynne McCafferty QC is a “wonderful” barrister who was identified as one of the leading juniors in the market before recently taking silk. She is widely experienced in all types of construction disputes, including mediations, adjudications and arbitrations.

“Impressive silk” Roger Stewart QC at 4 NEW SQUARE is an “excellent and experienced” barrister who is highlighted for his professional negligence work in the construction industry. He is “a very able technical lawyer who gets to the point quickly”, while another source adds: “Tribunals love him and I can see why.”

At CROWN OFFICE CHAMBERS, the “absolutely fantastic” Roger ter Haar QC is “great with clients and fantastic in front of a tribunal”, according to impressed interviewees. Commentators also note his “substantive experience on construction disputes in the Middle East and his very good knowledge of issues unique to the region”.

At 39 ESSEX CHAMBERS, seven silks are highlighted.
Stuart Catchpole QC is described as an “excellent advocate who is easy to work with” by instructing solicitors, while fellow barristers highlight his international expertise, including in arbitration.
Paul Darling QC “stands out” to market sources for his exceptional advocacy and ability to handle complex cases. He has a strong international practice and has experience in all manner of engineering and construction disputes.

FOUNTAIN COURT CHAMBERSAnneliese Day QC is a “terrifyingly good lawyer who’s got it all really”, says barrister, who praises her “ferocious work rate that runs you ragged as an opponent”. Commentators are quick to note her burgeoning reputation for work in Hong Kong.


Two leading Scottish silks stand out for their abilities in construction.

Robert Howie QC at AMPERSAND STABLE is regarded as “an out-and-out leader in Scotland” who is “very, very good, no question about it”. He has more than 30 years’ experience as an advocate and regularly appears in major litigation and arbitration.

Garry Borland QC of AXIOM ADVOCATES is another well-known name for construction disputes who brings valuable experience as a solicitor to his outstanding practice as an advocate.


KEATING CHAMBERS’ junior bench is among the strongest at the construction Bar, featuring a number of established and talented names. Seven juniors are listed in this chapter this year.
The “absolutely brilliant” Calum Lamont emerges as the top junior in this year’s research by some distance. Sources are “impressed by his attention to detail and industry knowledge”, while his combination of “a great legal brain” and an “ability to get things done quickly” makes him a firm favourite in the market.
Richard Coplin “stands out” to sources as a “highly recommended” barrister who is “very flexible on his feet”. Peers comment on his experience as an engineer as a key facet of his successful practice.
Paul Buckingham wins plaudits for his “clear-sighted and helpful approach to problem solving” and is also praised for his exceptional understanding of quantum issues. He handles both major litigation and arbitration and was part of the team that secured victory in the Supreme Court for MT Højgaard against E.ON Climate & Renewables UK.
Tom Owen is a standout junior who “exhibits a maturity beyond his years” and “is a clear first choice at his level of call”. Interviewees add that “he is bright, persuasive and reassuring – exactly the type of counsel clients like”.

ATKIN CHAMBERS also has a strong junior bench, including Rupert Choat, who is regarded as “a QC in the making” for his construction-orientated practice, which features substantial work as both arbitrator and counsel. Sources highlight him as “excellent on his feet” while also noting his “clear legal reasoning and thorough understanding of complex construction issues”.

Four juniors from 4 PUMP COURT are recognised for their construction capabilities.
The “truly excellent” James Bowling is “very involved in the industry and in developing the industry”, according to peers. Interviewees also identify his “brilliant practice doing adjudication work”.
Jessica Stephens is an “extremely thorough”, “very proactive” and “well-informed” counsel who is “one to watch”, according to impressed sources. She “produces some really excellent work” in matters in an array of areas such as offshore energy projects and shipbuilding.

At 4 NEW SQUARE, Paul Cowan is regarded by one solicitor as “the standout junior for me at present”. He is noted as “clever, responsive, good with clients and a strong advocate”.

Jane Davies Evans of 3 VERULAM BUILDINGS is a former counsel at a magic circle firm who has “made the switch back to the Bar well”, according to peers. She is highly rated as both counsel and arbitrator and has widespread experience in disputes in Asia and the Middle East. Sources note her standout abilities in cases involving nuclear energy.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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