Atkin Chambers Barristers
Serena specialises in construction and engineering, heavy plant, transport infrastructure, utilities, IT and telecommunications and professional negligence disputes, representing a wide range of contractors, employers and their professional advisors both domestically and internationally.
She acts as sole and junior counsel in large, complex, disputes in the domestic Courts, in international arbitration, in adjudication and at mediation.
Serena is recommended in the most recent edition of the Legal 500 as a tier 2 junior in the field of International Arbitration and in Construction. The most recent editions of Chambers and Partners UK recommend her as a leading junior in Construction.
Serena has acted for contractors, subcontractors, employers and their advisers in disputes arising from the design and construction of a wide range of domestic and international building and civil engineering projects, including sports stadia and commercial and residential properties. She has expertise in issues relating to extension of time, delay and disruption, loss and expense, defects, design and diminution in value claims. She is also regularly advised and acted in relation to the FIDIC, JCT, NEC, IChemE and PFI standard forms. Her recent experience includes:
o Junior counsel for the employer in a DIAC arbitration concerning the expansion of an international airport under the Dubai Aviation City Corporation’s Standard Conditions of Contract, Revision 2. The joint-venture Contractor claimed payment of AED 3.8 billion in respect of remeasurement, variations, cost-escalation, mark-up on nominated sub-contract packages and prolongation, plus loss of revenue and other damages for late payment.
o Counsel for the NHS Trust in an adjudication concerning Project Co’s entitlement to a price adjustment of £46 million under the terms of a PFI contract.
o Counsel for the Defendant in enforcement proceedings concerning the effect of contract terms purporting to set aside the obligation to comply with an Adjudicator's Decision in the event of supervening administration.
o Sole counsel for the structural steelworks sub-contractor in a 2 week DIAC arbitration concerning the construction and connection design of the strutural steel rack of the Cargo Mega Terminal at Dubai International Airport. The Claimant claimed payment of AED 9.25 million. By 21 counterclaims, the Respondent sought liquidated and unliquidated damages and/or an abatement of AED 35.6 million. The case involved detailed submissions on UAE law.
o Sole counsel for the main contractor in a 6-day UNCITRAL arbitration arising out of the design and construction of a men’s higher education college in Dubai. The case involved expert issues of engineering, programming and quantum and legal issues concerning the construciton of a FIDIC-based contract.
o Leading counsel for the contractor in a CRCICA arbitration concerning the contractor’s entitlement to extensions of time and loss and expense in a 7-figure sum. The contractor had carried out the concrete and the architectural and electromechanical packages of a 750,000 m2 integrated urban development in Egypt. Its claim involved consideration of multiple critical paths, both running within its 2 packages and affecting each other. The interaction between the causes of the delays to the development, and between the different contract terms governing the elements thereof raised complex questions of delay analysis and law.
o Sole counsel for the employer in arbitral proceedings concerning its entitlement to Euro 32 million and $10 million for the defective Project Management of an hotel, conference and commercial development at the junction of the White Nile and the Blue Nile in Sudan.
o Counsel for the employer in a DCCI arbitration concerning the basis of its entitlement to terminate a FIDIC contract for the construction of a mixed-use development in Dubai, and of the contractor’s entitlement to extensions of time and delay and disruption costs thereunder.
o Acting for an NHS Trust in adjudications concerning the legal basis of the contractor’s entitlement to extensions of time and to payment for variations under a PFI contract.
o Acting for the contractor from inception to appeal in court proceedings concerning its entitlement to payment for the provision of facilities management services at 372 supermarket outlets. The case raised questions of law concerning the proper interpretation of letters of intent.
o Acting for the control systems sub-contractor in court proceedings concerning the design, construction and commissioning of the control systems at Wembley Stadium. The sub-contractor claimed £37.5 million by way of accelleration costs, prolongation costs, delay and disruption and payment for variations. The main contractor counterclaimed damages of £13 million for delay and defects. This matter involved working closely with the client’s internal, legal, and expert team to gather and marshall complicated factual, legal and technical arguments.
o Acting for the employer in court proceedings concerning the effect of clause 39B.4 of the JCT WCD on the exercise of the Court’s discretion under section 45(2)(a) of the Arbitration Act 1996.
o Acting for the employer in court proceedings concerning the proper interpretation of section 1 of the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978 and the true meaning of “payment” for the purposes of the Limitation Act 1980.
She has wide experience acting for contractors, manufacturers and professionals on litigation and adjudication proceedings arising out of the design and/or construction of treatment and processing plants. Case examples include : -:
o Electricity : sole counsel for the Master Developer in 2 conjoined DIAC arbitrations concerning the incidence of liability to pay for electrical connections to sub-developments in a free zone.
o Water : counsel for the statutory undertaker in arbitral proceedings and cross-proceedings concerning the contractor’s entitlement to a price adjustment and the value of the Employer’s Final Account under a framework agreement for the installation of new service connections throughout the Greater London area.
o Power Station : acting for the purchaser joint venture in its claim for damages for breach of the warranties contained in a share purchase agreement concerning the largest combined cycle gas turbine power station in Europe. The JV claims damages of £119 million.
o Low density polyethylene plant : acting for the EPC contractor in relation to the termination of EPC contracts relating to 2 world-scale LDP plants and the employer’s call on bonds and guarantees given in relation thereto. The employer claims £133.9 million pursuant to contract. The EPC contractor seeks to recover £28.5 million paid by its bondsman and guarantor.
o Wind-farm : acting for the employer on its appeal from an Arbitrator’s award in relation to the design and construction of a wind-farm in Scotland. The claim concerned the Courts’ jurisdiction to hear the claim and the applicability of the Arbitration Act 1996 to arbitration with a Scottish seat.
o Electricity pipeline : acting for a utility company in arbitral proceedings concerning the engineering Contractor’s entitlement to payment in relation to the construction of an electricity pipeline and the interaction between the parties’ NEC contract and their subsequent settlement agreement.
o Waste-water treatment plant : acting for the joint-venture, design-and-build, sub-contractor on claims for delay and disruption; extensions of time; entitlement to performance incentive payments, and the valuation of additional work.
o Effluent-treatment plant : acting for the employer in court proceedings concerning the design and construction of an effluent treatment plant built to serve a cider mill under a limited letter of intent.
o Waste-processing plant : acting for the institutional funder in name-borrowing adjudication proceedings arising out of a suite of 9 contracts concerning the funding, design, construction and operation of a waste processing plant procured in a PFI context.
Serena has experience of IT and telecommunication project disputes and has acted variously for client, supplier and consultants. Recent matters include:
o Acting in adjudication proceedings concerning the installation of a trans-European system of fibre-optic cables.
o Acting in proceedings concerning billing errors under a 3-year mobile-phone air-time on-selling agreement.
She has represented employers and contractors on disputes arising from road and rail projects and infrastructures. Her cases include:
o Counsel for the main contractor in tri-partite TCC proceedings concerning the design and design review of a rail maintenance depot. The case raised issues of geotechnical engineering, rail logistics, programming and the quantification of future losses.
o Advising the employer in relation to the design and construction of a harbour in the UK.
o Acting in two large road-building arbitrations concerning the forseeability of site conditions, the identification and valuation of variations and the Contractor’s entitlement to extensions of time and delay and disruption costs;
o Acting for a major rail network in an arbitration concerning the cause and consequences of differential settlement of land, and the incidence of liability for that settlement.
Serena has acted as sole counsel and as junior counsel variously for and against engineers, architects, project managers and design consultants in the construction and engineering sectors. Instructions include:
o Acting for the engineer in a claim arising out of its design of a methane gas extraction and processing plant.
o Advising the employer on the liabilities of the contractor, engineer and architect involved in revetment works along the Medway River.
o Junior counsel for the architect in a four-week trial concerning the adequacy of its design of a dye-works.
Walter Lilley & Co. v. Mackay and DMW Developments Ltd. (2012) 143 Con LR 79.
Carillion Construction Ltd v. Stephen Andrew Smith (2011) 141 Con LR 117.
Carillion JM Ltd v. Phi & Robert West Consulting  BLR 504.
Straw Realisations (No. 1) (In administration) v Shaftsbury House (Developments) Ltd (2010)  BLR 47.
Workspace Management v. YJL London Limited  BLR 497.
Braes of Doune Wind Farm (Scotland) Ltd v. Alfred McAlpine Business Services Ltd (2008) 1 Lloyd's Rep 608.
Taylor Woodrow and George Wimpey Southern Counties v. Barnes & Elliott  BLR 377.
Baker & Davies Plc v. Leslie Wilkes Associates  3 All ER 603.
1999 - 2000 Inns of Court School of Law - Outstanding in
1996 - 1999 King’s College London - LLB (Hons)
Serena is on the management committee of TECBAR. She is a member of Combar and the Society of Construction Law.
Please contact our senior clerks, Simon Slattery and Justin Wilson, for further information.