I am a partner of Clarkslegal and I head the firm’s construction, engineering and environmental projects group.
I love the challenging diversity of my work, ranging from contract drafting and negotiating through to all forms of industry dispute resolution or, more preferably and when appropriate, dispute avoidance. Both I and the wider team are recognised by a number of the legal directories, including Chambers and Partners and Legal 500, as leading construction industry lawyers.
I act for all sectors of the industry to include, public and private sector developers and owner/occupiers, main contractors, specialist sub-contractors and professional consultants, whilst our expertise and excellent client service is also recognised through instruction by other law firms, who do not have that expertise, on behalf of their clients.
In addition, I am a non-executive director and former past chairman of the Building Services Research and Information Association, an Advisory Board Member of the Confederation of Construction Specialist and co-chair of our international network, (TAGLaw) construction and real estate speciality group. These positions help both me and our team keep abreast of developments and issues in the construction and environmental sectors and which knowledge we reflect in our advice
In the November 2016 Chambers Directory I have been described by clients as a ”master strategist” who "has an in-depth understanding of construction law and is always very quick to respond with commercial and pragmatic advice."
Project Procurement Strategies
I advise clients on appropriate procurement strategies for new build or refurbishment fit out works, all with the aim of helping them identify and therefore minimise project risks and ensure projects are delivered on time and budget. This advice extends to identifying appropriate standard or bespoke forms of contract to use, timely appointment of the professional design team and any appropriate transfer of risk. I then prepare appropriate project specific terms of contract to reflect the client agreed key commercial and other project specific requirements and objectives, and negotiate and finalise those terms with main contractors and professional consultants alike.
For those developers that have many repeat capital projects (who I term “serial procurers”!), I advise on the procurement, drafting and negotiating of framework building contracts and consultancy appointments and related mini-tender and call-off contracts. I assist clients with presentations to tendering contractors and consultants to explain the reasons for use of proposed forms of contracts and reasons for any amendments made. This helps to ensure that framework appointments or renewals are completed on time and with a minimum need for negotiation of proposed framework and call-off contract terms.
Contract Advice/Negotiation for Contractors and Consultants
I advise contractors and consultants on proposed contract terms at both tender and contract award stages, to help them identify and therefore price or evaluate key contract risks. I will then negotiate on their behalf, often directly with the client, to remove or reduce those risks, and ensure, for example, that they do not take on any uninsured obligations.
I advise and negotiate on the full range of documentation typically required for significant capital projects, including performance bonds and guarantees, joint venture agreements, novation agreements and collateral warranties.
I help clients to prevent or mitigate any dispute and its escalation and so maintain business continuity and, where appropriate, preservation of ongoing business relationships. I have done this, for example, by chairing monthly meetings of the client’s or contractor’s project team at practical completion, advising on strategies that ensure earliest possible completion for the works and minimise resultant risks or liabilities. My strategic commercial and legal advice therefore helps clients to identify and manage project risks, often considerably before practical completion is achieved.
My colleagues and I proactively seek to manage and resolve disputes and so help our clients avoid or reduce exposure to unwanted litigation risks and costs. I advise clients across the entire construction sector in relation to disputes under all standard industry contracts (including all forms of JCT and NEC contracts), bespoke building contracts and consultant appointments on issues arising as a result of defective and/or late design, defective works, failure to carry out and complete work, failure to properly supervise and/or project manage works, negligent certification and wrongful suspension or termination of work. In addition, we help to mitigate or resolve any dispute through all forms of alternative dispute resolution, including direct party to party negotiations, mediations and star chambers.
I undertake all my own advocacy at mediations and do not appoint barristers, avoiding unnecessary and duplicated costs. Other forms of dispute resolution on which I advise and help to implement include expert determination, for example, to help identify cause and responsibility for defects, and partnering workshops. In addition, we regularly undertake adjudication and again we prepare all relevant submissions and undertake our own advocacy without instructing barristers. An adjudicator’s decision can be used to help resolve an important point of principle and which in turn will resolve either an entire dispute or single elements of a dispute, sometimes together with other ongoing negotiations. We also enforce adjudicator’s decisions through issue of High Court proceedings and undertake other litigation or arbitration work when, for whatever reason, in the best interests of the client.
In-house Support and Workshops
I am regularly asked to help clients’ in-house estates, legal or QS/project management teams through provision of workshops and other training on specific issues. Recent examples of topics we have trained clients on include the impact of BIM on contract terms and the pros and cons of using JCT or NEC standard forms of contract. Additionally, we provide in-house support through secondment to help client project teams deliver and manage out key risks to any ongoing projects. This can help to ensure that project programmes and projects are met and save clients from unnecessary exposure to risks and additional costs.
Clarkslegal LLP is a leading, full-service commercial law firm with a reputation for being innovative, practical, commercial and strategic, able to draw on expertise from our associated companies to help deliver solutions for our clients in the UK and internationally.
We act for a wide range of businesses, from start up and SMEs, to multinationals and FTSE250 companies as well as numerous public sector bodies and individual clients.
Our aim is to make things happen for our clients, whether from a legal perspective or by helping them make the right connections to achieve their desired business outcomes.
Internationally, we are part of TAGLaw, a major global network of law firms giving clients access to high-quality legal advice in nearly 100 countries.