Recognised for her particular skill in getting to the heart of complex legal and factual disputes quickly in order to provide clients with commercially focused advice; Fiona specialises in high-value energy and utilities claims. She also has extensive experience in the PFI arena. Her broad practice extends to encompass international arbitration, construction, infrastructure and professional negligence.
Fiona is ranked as a leading silk in each of the fields in which she practices and in 2015 was identified by “The Lawyer” as one of its “Hot 100”.
Fiona has handled many cases, advising and acting for and in against architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, project managers and developers, and solicitors professional negligence proceedings. She has particular experience of cases with limitation and proper measure of loss issues. Examples include:
- Successfully acting for executive search firm in Chancery Division and Court of Appeal in prosecution of professional negligence claims against a city law firm and in related proceedings; Wellesley Partners LLP v. Withers LLP  EWHC 556 ChD;  EWCA Civ 1146 . Addax Bank BsC v. Wellesley Partners LLP  EWHC 1904 QB.
- Acting for a Design and Build Contractor in multi-party proceedings in the TCC in relation to its claims against its structural engineer arising out of the design of a nightclub dance floor which failed due to fatigue. Advising as to nature and extent of contractual and tortuous duties owed by structural engineer, formation of the retainer, measure of loss and limitation issues; Leisure II v. R G Carter Construction Ltd and others.
- Advising a Design & Build Contractor in connection with a potential multi-party professional negligence action concerning alleged defects in the design of a distribution warehouse floor and in particular in relation to the nature and extent of recoverable loss by the Employer.
- Advising Geotechnical Engineer in relation to professional negligence claims arising out of a slope failure. The case gave rise to limitation, scope of duty and nature and recoverability of loss issues; The Sprigg Little Partnership –and- Geotechnical Developments (UK) Limited.
- Employer’s claims for professional negligence and against architects, engineers, surveyors & project managers; limitation of actions, existence and extent of professionals’ duty to warn; Chesham Properties Ltd v. Bucknall Austin Project Management Ltd & others.
- Employers claims for professional negligence against design and build contractors with particular consideration of limitation of actions in the context of claims for breach of contractual and non-contractual duties; ‘no loss’ issues; and the extent of continuing duties owed by a developer to an employer. The extent of obligations upon a maintenance contractor to advise and warn of underlying design defects in building systems under its management and operation.
- Advising concrete contractor in connection with pursuing claims against its professional indemnity insurer for failure to cover professional negligence claims made against contractor by employer. Advising as to effects of settlement of claim with employer on subsequent claims under the PI policy.
ENERGY, PROCESS PLANTS AND UTILITIES
- Appointed as party nominated arbitrator in an ICC arbitration in respect of a large-scale tank terminal located in the UAE.
- Advising a purchaser of an anaerobic digestion energy-for-waste process plant in connection with disputes with its process contractor in relation to extensive commissioning delays and in particular as to whether the root cause of those delays lay in the quantity and quality of the feedstock supplied for commissioning or in design defects in the contractor’s mechanical and process plant.
- Advising a major energy provider in relation to extent of its liabilities for contractor cost and time overruns under an EPC target cost contract for a biomass CHP Plant in Scotland.
- Successfully acting for major energy provider in TCC and Court of Appeal proceedings in disputes concerning the extent of contractor’s sectional completion obligations arising out of NEC3 contract a hydroelectric generating scheme in Scotland; RWE Npower Renewables v. J N Bentley  EWCA Civ 150.
- Successfully acting for consortium of international energy companies in relation to disputes arising out of the termination of an EPC Contract for the construction of the West African Pipeline; including advising in connection with disputes as to the enforceability of contractor’s parent company guarantee; the effect of termination on the parties’ contractual remedies and the recoverability of various heads of loss sustained by the employer as a result of the termination; West African Pipeline Company v. Wilbros  EWHC 396.
- Successfully acting for a defendant process engineering contractor in TCC and Court of Appeal proceedings concerning poor performance of waste water SBR treatment plant in Leeds. Yorkshire Water Services Limited v. Taylor Woodrow Construction Ltd (& others)  EWCA Civ 894.
- Acting for defendant process engineering contractor in relation to a claim brought by United Utilities arising out of alleged defects in a water treatment works in Liverpool and an associated group nuisance action launched by local residents; United Utilities v. Degremont (& others).
- Representing international energy contractor in an ICC arbitral claim brought by international engineering contractor under FIDC-based subcontract arising out of termination of a contract to construct part of the BTC Pipeline. Disputes as to legality and financial consequences of termination and defective pipeline construction.
- Successfully representing a major energy company in an UNCITRAL Arbitration concerning responsibility for defective pipework installed in a large Central Asian refinery; questions as to the contractor’s entitlement to additional sums for extra work and prolongation of the project, and the employer’s entitlement to recover various heads of consequential loss including substantial sums for delayed production.
- Acting for a large middle eastern oil company in Commercial Court proceedings concerning disputes arising out of the termination of jack up drilling rig and associated rig transportation contract (in the Heavycon standard form) including disputes as to contract formation, agency, repudiatory breach and mitigation; Dockwise v. North Drilling Company .
- Advising European power company in relation to disputes arising during the course of the construction of two new GGCT power stations by an international engineering contractor; in particular in relation to ground condition risk, liability for industrial relations disputes and claims for prolongation, variations and delay and disruption.
- Advising a major oil company in connection with disputes as to liability for pile failures during the construction of a water injection platform in the North Sea; recovery of losses associated with project delay and related insurance proceedings in the English Commercial Court.
- Advising a major oil company in connection with substantial cost and time overrun claims made by a multi-national engineering contractor and arising out of an EPC contract for the construction of a jack up rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Advising major African energy company in connection with disputes arising out of the design, construction and commissioning of a Low Density Ammonium Nitrate plant in Africa, resisted contractor claim for injunctive preventing call on performance bond; advised in connection with disputes concerning nature and extent of contractual regime surrounding performance testing.
- Representing a major international contractor in an LCIA Arbitration arising out of the construction of an oil rig in South Korea. Successfully defending repudiatory breach, economic duress and loss of production claims advanced by the employer.
- Representing BP Amoco in a 90 day case in the Commercial Court and advising in associated proceedings brought in America in connection with the termination of a contract for supply of giant jack up rig. The case considered issues relating to repudiation of contract; meaning and effect of contractual termination clauses; relationship between common law and contractual rights to terminate, issue estoppel and economic torts; BP Amoco Ltd v. British American Offshore Limited .
- Advising a major UK waste management contractor in connection with disputes arising out of suite of PFI contracts for the construction and long term operation of waste management facilities and waste to energy plants in the North of England; Disputes concerned alleged under performance of process facilities; proper construction of inter party contractual indemnities and proper construction of Paymec provisions.
- Acting for three local authorities in connections to Adjudication and Commercial Court proceedings concerning proper interpretation of excess revenue sharing and trade waste provisions in the Paymec incorporated as part of Central Berkshire Waste PFI Contract: RE3 v. Bracknell Forest BC .
- Advising engineering contractor on connection with legality of LD deductions levied by employer during extended commissioning of an energy-from-waste plant incorporated as part of waste PFI project in North East England.
- Advising local authority in relation to rights to renegotiate unfavourable commercial terms of long-term waste disposal contract concluded with private waste contractors.
- Representing construction contractor in connection with disputes as to potential defects in new hospital facilities constructed as part of hospital PFI project in North East England.
Representing engineering contractor in connection with disputes arising out of transmission and train radio contract as part of London Underground PPP.
CONSTRUCTION, ENGINEERING AND INFRASTRUCTURE
- Advising and successfully acting for the Government of Gibraltar in the TCC and the Court of Appeal in connection with Government’s decision to terminate FIDIC red book tunnelling contract at Gibraltar airport; OHL v. H.M. AG for Gibraltar  EWHC 1028;  EWHC 712.
- Advising and acting for a limited company created by the Gibraltar Government in connection with its disputes with two of the largest Spanish building contractors arising out of the design and construction of extensive new public housing programmes in Gibraltar.
- Successfully acting for rail engineering contractor in connection with disputes with RfL arising out of NEC3 Contract for upgrade of London Overground network.
- Acting for major UK infrastructure developer in connection with dispute as to extent of liability of Public Authority to make contributions to cost of infrastructure works under Development Agreement for major re-development in South Wales.
- Acting for a major Wembley stadium sub-contractor in multi million pound delay, disruption, loss and expense and final account litigation and associated adjudications. The dispute required an understanding of the inter relationship between groundworks, drainage and concrete technology issues against and the state of the art structural engineering design for this high-profile landmark project; PC Harrington v. Multiplex Constructions Limited .
- Acting for a defendant design and build contractor in connection with a multi-party dispute concerning the cause of the poor performance of an air conditioning system installed in a prestigious new build office development in Reading; Verizon (UK) Limited v. Bowmer and Kirkland Ltd (& others).
- Advising large European Contractor in relation to disputes arising out of a regional re-development project in Oman; in particular in connection with the contractor’s liability under various performance bonds and parent company guarantees executed as part of a multi-national re-financing package.
- Acting for Cameroon Airlines in a Commercial Court Arbitration application. Successfully overturning an award made in the underlying arbitration (governed by South African law) which had been made against the airline. The underlying arbitration itself concerned disputes which had arisen as to the proper performance of the maintenance contract which governed the maintenance of all aircraft owned by the airline.
QUALIFICATIONS AND AWARDS
1992: Inns of Court Scholar
Duke of Edinburgh Scholarship
1990: LLM (Hons) (Upper Second) Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge
British Academy Scholar
Evan Lewis Thomas Scholar
1989: LLB (Hons) (1st Class) Exeter University
Fiona is a member of TECBAR, COMBAR, the LCLCBA and the SCL.
“Incredibly hard-working, very smart and extremely effective.” “A wide skill set for development and construction work.” “Calm and measured with clients, and tactically excellent.”
Construction, Chambers & Partners UK Bar and Global 2020
“She gets on top of cases across a broad range of areas and is a truly exceptional advocate.”
Energy & Natural Resources, Chambers & Partners UK Bar and Global 2020
“A very no-nonsense, authoritative advocate.” “She is well prepared and always knows what she is doing. She is very hands-on, and a nice lawyer to deal with.”
Professional Negligence, Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2020
“Hardworking, pragmatic, determined and an excellent advocate.”
Construction, The Legal 500 2020
“Works well as part of a team to achieve a common goal, setting out the risks of different strategies.”
Energy, The Legal 500 2020
“She is steely, hard and gracious in equal measure.”
Professional Negligence, The Legal 500 2020
“A very good advocate who is technically competent and very detail-oriented.”
Construction, Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2019
“Determined and authoritative, she’s very good at ignoring the noise in a case and getting to the crux of the matter.” “She is really good at cutting through huge amounts of technical information and dragging out the key points.”
Energy, Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2019
“A hard-working and able advocate.” “She is very thorough and won’t go to court without being fully armed.”
Professional Negligence, Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2019
“Significant expertise in the water sector, she is able to understand complex engineering issues and distil them into relatively straightforward issues.”
Construction, The Legal 500 2019
“Quickly gets a handle on the issues, provides robust advice and is easy to work.”
Energy, The Legal 500 2019
“Able to understand complex engineering issues and distil them into relatively straightforward issues.”
Professional Negligence, The Legal 500 2019
“Very impressive, tenacious and extremely hard-working.” “Gets to grip with the issues quickly, very client-friendly and easy to work with.”
Construction, Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2018 and Chambers Global 2018
“She is great for complex claims with multiple counterparties – she really stays on top of the details.”
Energy, Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2018 and Chambers Global 2018
“Gets to grip with the issues quickly, and is very client-friendly and easy to work with.”
Professional Negligence, Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2018
“Amazingly diligent, incisive and dedicated like no other.”
Construction, The Legal 500 2017
“Solid number crunching skills and outstanding work ethic.”
Energy, The Legal 500 2017
“Impressive and technically very able.”
Professional Negligence, The Legal 500 2017
The above are a selection of recent client endorsements from the leading legal directories, both UK and internationally. For a complete list of endorsements, please contact the practice management team at Atkin Chambers.