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James Howells QC Barrister Atkin Chambers

James Howells QC

Silk 2014

"A phenomenal Silk”

"Very user-friendly, hands-on barrister with formidable advocacy skills".

Legal 500 and Chambers UK Bar

James Howells QC has a wide ranging practice encompassing all areas related to the construction, engineering and technology fields. He has extensive experience in domestic and international forms of contract and involvement in domestic and international disputes of all sizes relating to infrastructure projects, construction and engineering; energy, power and natural resources; professional negligence and technology.

James has had involvement in some of the largest UK and global construction, infrastructure and IT projects of recent years both in an advisory capacity and as an advocate. He regularly advises upon and acts as an advocate in international arbitrations both in the UK and overseas and has been instructed in relation to disputes in many areas of the world including Africa, Australia, the Caribbean, Europe, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Pakistan, the Philippines, UAE and Oman, Russian Federation, Singapore and Thailand.

He is also frequently involved in alternative forms of dispute resolution such as mediation and, when appropriate, early neutral evaluation.

James is regularly recommended as a leader at the Bar in legal UK, Asia-Pacific and Global directories for his expertise in construction, IT and telecommunications, power, energy and natural resources, international arbitration, commercial arbitration and professional negligence.


James has wide experience of disputes in respect of construction and engineering projects and disputes with professionals arising from such projects. Examples include:

  • Acting for US successor to Hong Kong based power generation company in UK High Court proceedings (including two visits to the Court of Appeal) in proceedings against globally renowned engineering consultancy for negligence in design of foundations for a US$350million coal fired power station in the Philippines.
  • Numerous UK court and domestic and international arbitrations relating to construction of buildings and process plants in UK and overseas.
  • Extensive experience of disputes relating to UK PFI and PPP projects for major public-private projects including hospitals, schools, road and rail renewal and new-build


James has been instructed in a number of the largest and most complex IT disputes to have arisen in the UK including public, private and private finance projects. Examples include:

  • Acting for US software house in contract claims relating to the termination of the UK government Libra project intended to provide a centralised IT system for the UK courts service.
  • Acting for systems integration service provider in respect of claims relating to termination of one of the world’s largest civilian IT projects.

James has also had wide experience of IT disputes in international arbitration and in relation to international projects including:

  • Acting in international arbitration relating to the implementation of a global airline web-based booking and e-ticketing and hotel reservation system.
  • Acting in dispute relating to design and implementation of an integrated vessel chartering and commodities trading, risk management and hedging system


James has experience of a wide range of construction and commercial disputes related to the onshore and offshore energy and power industries particularly in international arbitrations. Examples being:

  • Acting for Indian private power company in international arbitration in relation to dispute relating to design and construction of combined cycle power station in Karnataka.
  • Acting for Thai company in disputes relating to construction of biomass power plant, at the time the largest such plant by output.
  • Acting for Omani employer in relation to dispute following termination of contract for exploratory onshore drilling.
  • Advising on disputes relating to delay claims arising from construction of oil pipelines in UAE.
  • Advising an Australian oil company in respect of a commercial dispute arising from UK government offshore drilling licences.


Numerous domestic and international road and rail projects including most recently:

  • Acting for joint venture contractor in relation to design and construction of new light rail system in the Middle East, one of the largest disputes by value in the world at that time.
  • Advising and acting in disputes relating to the renewal of a UK metro system under a public-private finance partnership.
  • Advising and acting in court, expert determination and mediation of disputes relating to geotechnical design of major arterial road in UK.


James has been involved in a number of shipbuilding disputes arising from private and UK and foreign state naval procurements. James’ experience includes disputes relating to design and construction of FPSOs, drill ships, LNG carriers and naval projects, including:

  • Acting disputes relating to the design and construction of next generation naval vessels for UK fleet.
  • Delay claims relating to design and project management of refurbishment and upgrade of semi-submersible rig.
  • Delay claims relating to design and construction of FPSO.
  • Claims relating to sale and leaseback of bulk carriers