Practice

Steven specialises in advising and representing parties to complex commercial contracts relating to a wide range of subject matter including the design and delivery of buildings, oil and gas installations, power generation plant, process and engineering plant, ships, IT systems, telecommunications systems, facilities management and professional services.

He has appeared as advocate in the Technology and Construction Court (“the TCC”), the Court of Appeal, numerous arbitrations and adjudications, and in expert determination and mediation. His arbitration experience includes substantial international experience. He is a TECBAR accredited Adjudicator and has been appointed as an Adjudicator on numerous occasions.

He is recommended by both Chambers and Partners’ and the Legal 500’s most recent editions as a leader in the field.

Construction, engineering and infrastructure

Steven is instructed by employers, contractors, sub-contractors, consultants and insurers on all aspects of construction and engineering contracts. Recent cases include:

Obtaining an injunction under section 44 of the Arbitration Act 1996 to prevent a main contractor from using documents following the purported termination of a subcontract relating to a project in the Middle East (Seele v Drake & Scull International).

Representing the contractor in a trial in the TCC concerning the lawfulness of the termination of a contract for the design and construction of a LDPE plant (SABIC v Punj Lloyd [2014] BLR 43).

Representing the main contractor (Lend Lease) in disputes arising under a target cost contract for the construction of military accommodation (Mi-Space (UK) v Lend Lease [2013] BLR 600).

Acting for subcontractors in proceedings in the TCC concerning the termination of a subcontract for the installation of pressure vessels forming part of a bioethanol plant under construction.

Acting for subcontractors engaged to fabricate offshore platforms for oil production and processing in connection with disputes relating to payment and quality in arbitration in London under the UNCITRAL rules.

Advising the employer in respect of claims for professional negligence (c.£90m) against contract managers, architects and engineers arising from delay and cost overruns incurred in the procurement of commercial and residential developments.

Advising clients in a claim for professional negligence against architects and others arising from the design and construction of a new indoor swimming pool. Issues include liability for detailed design of the pipework and ventilation systems.

Energy and natural resources

Acting for a subcontractor in an application under section 44 of the Arbitration Act 1996 to restrain calls being made on performance bonds provided in respect of a contract for the supply of plant for use in a power generation plant in Brazil (Doosan Babcock v Comercializadora De Equipos Y Materiales Mabe Limitada [2014] BLR 33).

Representing the employer in an expert determination arising from the supply and installation of power generation plant.

Acting for the main contractor in relation to a project for the design and construction of a biomass combined heat and power plant.

Advising and representing the owner of an offshore wind farm (Greater Gabbard) in relation to arbitration proceedings under the LCIA rules. The proceedings concerned issues relating to the contractor’s alleged entitlement to additional payment (c.£300m), extensions of time and liquidated damages (c.£90m).

Advising the owner developing an offshore wind farm in relation to issues arising from design modifications to foundation structures.

IT and telecommunications

Steven is instructed by purchasers and suppliers in numerous cases relating to the provision of advanced technology, either on its own or included as part of package of other works and services. His experience includes the following:

Obtaining specific performance of obligations under a contract for the supply of a tram operating system in connection with the extension of the Manchester tram network and representing the employer in relation to disputes arising under that contract (Transport for Greater Manchester v Thales [2012] EWHC 3717 (TCC) 146 Con LR 194).

Obtaining an interim injunction on behalf of Talaris BV restraining marketing of computer software which was alleged to be in breach of an exclusive distribution agreement (Talaris BV v Network Controls International [2008] EWHC 2930 (TCC)).

Acting for out-sourcing specialists in relation to disputes arising from a long-term outsourcing contract for the provision of (amongst other things) IT and management systems to a public body. Issues included the availability of injunctive relief to restrain the client from exercising termination provisions.

Representing the owners of a large metro system in a £50m ICC arbitration arising out of an ongoing PFI contract for the delivery of a system wide communication system. The dispute concerned the supplier’s entitlement to extensions of time due to alleged failure on the part of the owner to perform enabling works to the network.

Represented a subcontractor engaged in the supply of a range of audio and visual automated passenger information systems for installation on passenger trains in an ICC arbitration. Issues included responsibility for ensuring the electro magnetic compatibility of the information systems with out on board systems.

Recent Reported Cases

HS Works v Enterprise [2009] BLR 378: adjudication – natural justice – multiple adjudications and method of enforcement using set-off.

Speymill v Baskind [2010] BLR 257 (CA): enforcement of adjudicator’s decision where fraud is alleged.

Supablast v Story Rail [2010] BLR 211: enforcement of adjudicator’s decision – whether arguable defence there were 2 contracts.

Mouchel v Van Oord (UK) [2011] BLR 492: claims for costs under the Contribution Act 1978.

John Youngs Insurance v Aviva [2012] 1 All ER (Comm) 1045: extent of fiduciary duty owed by a contractor to the employer.

Durham CC v Kendall [2011] BLR 425: enforcement of adjudicator’s decision – waiver of objection – identity of claimant – whether contract terms in writing.

Transport for Greater Manchester v Thales [2013] BLR 339: whether reports on performance subject to litigation privilege.

Transport for Greater Manchester v Thales [2012] 146 Con LR 194: claim for specific performance of obligations.

Parkwood Leisure v Laing O’Rourke [2013] BLR 589: whether collateral warranty amounts to a contract for the carrying out of construction operations within the meaning of the Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration Act.

Mi-Space (UK) v Lend Lease [2013] BLR 600: pre-action disclosure and whether contract contained an agreement to refer disputes to arbitration.

SABIC v Punj Lloyd [2014] BLR 43: Delay – Obligation to carry out works "with due diligence" – Meaning - Implied terms – Whether implied term not to hinder or disrupt – Whether implied term to do all necessary to bring about completion of contract - Exclusion clauses – Limitation clauses – Whether clause limiting aggregate liability of contractor applied to claim for payment under termination provision – Whether claims for lost revenue and interest excluded by clause excluding liability for consequential and indirect loss, expense or damage and for loss of production or profit.

Doosan Babcock v Comercializadora De Equipos Y Materiales Mabe Limitada [2014] BLR 33 – Injunction to restrain call on bonds – approach to injunctions in cases where beneficiary may be in breach – principle that no party may benefit from its own wrong.

Qualifications and Awards

1989-1992 University of East Anglia, LL.B Hons., First Class

1991 The Observer Mace Mooting Competition, Winner

1993 Hardwicke Scholar

1993 Wolfson Scholar

1993 Called to the Bar of England and Wales

2012 Appointed Queen’s Counsel

Legal texts

Steven is former joint editor of the Building law Reports 1996-1999 and editor of the Technology & Construction Law Reports 1999-2002

Other professional interests

He is a member of TECBAR, The Society of Construction Law and the Commercial and Common Law Bar Association

Please contact our senior clerk, Justin Wilson, for further information.