Riaz acts as leading counsel in high-value, complex disputes and advises clients on difficult legal and tactical issues.
Recommendations in Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500 describe his working style as “wonderfully hands-on, with a real ‘can do’ attitude, excellent client skills, very calm under pressure, highly responsive, hardworking, proactive, efficient, user friendly, approachable and always a pleasure to work with”.
Commendations of his legal ability describe him as a “supreme strategist, a top-notch legal mind who always provides excellent and clear advice, has a commercial and pragmatic approach, is quick to spot solutions that other counsel may miss, concise, incisive and very good at getting to the point”.
As an advocate he is commended as “brilliant in court and hearings, a very persuasive advocate, who is a tough, forensic, ferocious and excellent cross examiner”.
Riaz acts in the full range of construction, engineering, infrastructure and energy disputes in the High Court, international arbitration and in adjudication. Outside of construction law, Riaz is instructed in general commercial disputes including investment treaty claims, conflict of laws, insurance claims, bonds, sale of goods, disputes under joint venture agreements and allegations of corruption.
Riaz has direct access rights and is often instructed directly by in-house counsel from governmental bodies and commercial organisations. He is on the LCIA list of arbitrators. He has presided over an arbitral tribunal and is a registered advocate in the DIFC.
Construction, Engineering, Infrastructure, Energy, Investment Treaty and General Commercial Claims
Riaz is instructed as leading counsel in international arbitrations including in the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and wider Middle East, the Caribbean and Europe. Riaz is familiar with the particular challenges of international arbitration disputes including managing mega disputes, the commercial realities of large value projects, issues between joint venture partners, dealing with foreign law (including civil law systems), conflict of laws and jurisdictional issues. He is accustomed to dealing sensitively with a diversity of tribunal members and clients. He has led arbitrations under the major institutional arbitral rules including ICC, LCIA and DIAC.
Examples of recent cases include:
- Leading counsel in a DIFC-LCIA arbitration. Claim value USD$215 million plus. Dispute regarding high rise commercial and residential towers in the UAE. Claim for delay, variations and prolongation costs. Included application to restrain call on a bond. Contract subject to UAE Law.
- Leading counsel in a DIAC arbitration. Claim value USD$150 million plus. Dispute regarding high-rise mixed-use tower in the UAE. Claims for delay, variations and defects. Involved cross-examination of structural and mechanical engineering experts. Contract subject to UAE Law.
- Leading counsel in a DIAC arbitration. Claim value USD$200 million plus dispute regarding high-rise mixed-use tower in the UAE including claims arising from suspension of work during recession in the region. Contract Subject to UAE Law.
- Leading counsel in a LCIA arbitration. Claim value Euro 150 million plus. Defending claim regarding the design and construction of a landmark retail and leisure complex in Moscow. Contract subject to Russian Law. Included issue of impact of respondent’s insolvency on ongoing arbitral claims under the Rome Convention.
- Sole barrister as part of team of lawyers in a Dispute Adjudication Board Referral USD$1 billion plus claim regarding EPC contract for an urban transport network. Particularly sensitive matter as the Project was ongoing and the client comprised a multi-party joint venture.
- Leading counsel in an ICC arbitration. Claim value USD$35 million plus. Defending claim by temporary works sub-contractor in a major road upgrade project in Qatar. Claim involved difficult issues of whether the sub-contractor was entitled to the benefit of payments received under the main contract and whether the main contractor had acted contrary to the requirements of good faith under Qatari Law.
- Leading counsel in an ICC arbitration under Swiss Law regarding rights under a business consultancy agreement for mobile telephone communications in Iran. Particular issues as to whether the contract was void for bribery.
- Sole counsel in an ICC arbitration regarding a hotel management agreement between a government-owned subsidiary and a major hotel chain in the Caribbean. Trinidad and Tobago Law.
- ICC arbitrations regarding upgrade of oil and gas refinery in the Caribbean. Total claim values in excess of USD$300 million. Laws of Trinidad and Tobago.
Riaz has experience of investment treaty claims particularly with a construction or infrastructure element including claims under umbrella clauses in Treaties. Examples include advising on an Investment Treaty Claim relating to alleged expropriation of mining rights. Advising on an Investment Treaty Claim relating to breaches of an EPC contract for the construction of an airport terminal in Africa. He appeared as junior counsel in an ICSID claim representing a European investor seeking compensation for alleged treaty breaches by a West African state Gustav F W Hamester GmbH & Co KG v. Republic of Ghana, ICSID Case No. ARB/07/24.
DOMESTIC LITIGATION AND DISPUTE RESOLUTION
Construction and Infrastructure
Riaz is experienced in leading high court litigation in the Technology and Construction Court and the Commercial Court, in construction contract adjudications and enforcements, in disputes under PFI contracts, in domestic arbitrations under the Arbitration Act 1996 and in advisory work. He is familiar with the major standard form construction contracts such as the JCT, NEC, ICE and FIDIC forms. He has led disputes concerning the full range of projects from infrastructure, oil and gas, renewables, residential, process, healthcare, retail, and sporting to scientific facilities.
Riaz is experienced in the particular disputes and issues arising under PFI contracts including disputes about availability, deductions, the interface between construction defects and service failures, and payment mechanism issues. Riaz has wide experience of conduct of adjudications and enforcement of adjudicator’s decisions under the 1996 Act.
Examples of experience include:
- Successful defence of TCC Action regarding Development and subsequent Leasehold of Liberty Stadium, Swansea. Directly instructed by the Local Authority. Swansea Stadium Management Co Ltd v (1) Swansea City & County Council (2) Interserve Construction Ltd  4 WLUK 366.
- TCC Part 8 Claim to determine the meaning and operation of the payment mechanism in a joint venture agreement between the contracting parties employed under a NEC3 contract.
- Leading counsel in an adjudication under IChemE Rules in a dispute relating to the construction of a renewable energy biomass power plant – specific issues as to whether changes in the dimensions and orientation of the plant constituted a variation.
- Leading counsel in an adjudication regarding upgrade to a railway station under a NEC3 contract incorporating the Network Rail station design principles. Directly instructed by the Local Authority. Successful recovery of overpayments certified as compensation events.
- Lobo v Corich & Anor  All ER (D) 132 (Jun) Successful grant of charging order for failure to pay adjudicator’s decision. Important decision regarding proper notice and service of adjudication proceedings – Contractor claimed not to have been properly served with adjudication notice.
- Ground Developments Ltd v FCC Construccion SA and others  BLR 532. Successful enforcement of adjudicator’s award. Defendant ran seven objections to enforcement running the full range of jurisdictional objections.
- TCC action successful strike out of claim by hotel owner against building contractor alleging breach of an implied term in a JCT 1998 standard form contract not to charge excessive or unreasonable rates. Oakrock Ltd v Travelodge Hotels Ltd and Others  BLR 593.
- Leading counsel in a PFI dispute regarding the calculation of a payment mechanism for a hospital development.
- Leading counsel in a PFI dispute regarding a claim for deductions arising from defective fire-stopping in a hospital and the interaction between defects under the construction contract and availability of facilities under the service and management contract;
- Leading counsel in a PFI dispute arising from the purported termination of a contract to manage an educational institution prior to the expiry period and the basis for compensation arising.
Riaz has wide-experience of acting in and advising on professional negligence disputes, acting for both claimants and insurers in relation to claims brought against a variety of professionals, including engineers, contract administrators, architects and planning consultants. Riaz is experienced in leading disputes to trial, including cross-examination of technical experts, advising on issues of contribution between defendants and in achieving a successful negotiated settlement where appropriate.
Recent experience includes:
- Leading counsel in High Court proceedings representing insurers for the cladding trade contractor in multi-party High Court claim re defective and dangerous cladding in a central London building.
- Leading counsel in dispute regarding defective cladding representing insurers for the cladding sub-contractor and installer in a multi-party claim involving the main contractor, the cladding sub-contractor, the design consultants and the cladding panel suppliers.
- Leading counsel in High Court Proceedings representing the employer Local Authority in a multi-party High Court professional negligence claim against contract administrator regarding design, contract administration and quantity surveying services provided with regards to a school refurbishment.
- Successful defence in adjudication of a £2 million architect’s negligence claim for a luxury London residence.
- High Court proceedings representing the employer in a professional negligence claim against the construction manager in a development and construction of an industrial distribution warehouse. The claim concerned a failure to properly ensure or advise on site clearance and disposal.
- High Court action for negligent design of gas purification equipment in a biomass waste treatment facility. Case involved highly technical questions regarding design and working of innovative patented technology and important contractual issues regarding recovery of renewable energy payments. McCain Foods GB Ltd v Eco-Tec (Europe) Ltd  CILL 2989.
- High Court multi-party dispute representing insurers of mechanical engineer defending a claim for defective design of a gas supply system.
- High Court claim under the Contribution Act 1978 against consulting engineers for alleged negligence in supervision of water supply works.
Riaz advises on issues arising in general commercial contracts and acts in related litigation. In particular he advises on sale of goods contracts, claims under bonds and guarantees, actions arising from bribery and corruption, supply contracts and joint venture agreements.
- Leading counsel in Commercial Court proceedings regarding non-payment under a policy of insurance for loss of a Yacht at sea – claim value circa £15 million.
- Leading counsel in Commercial Court proceedings seeking an interim injunction for unlawful use of copyright following termination of a sale and purchase agreement for the supply of oil and gas drilling rigs.
- Leading counsel in Commercial Court proceedings against an insurer seeking indemnity under a building works insurance policy and whether the insurer is estopped from arguing an exclusion to cover applies.
- High Court proceedings regarding interpretation of an oral agreement for a seller’s agent’s commission on sale of property.
- Sale of goods dispute under Cayman law involving the sale of scrap metal in a tri-partite agreement between a Hong Kong and Cayman company and a Caribbean government.
- Advising on rights and limitations of liability under an agreement for the sale of aircraft to a national carrier;
- Advised on a number of disputes regarding sale of property in the Middle East and issues arising regarding termination, LAD’s, rights of forfeiture and choice of law including the application and construction of the UAE Civil Code and DIFC Law in Dubai.
- High Court proceedings opposing enforcement of an arbitral award under the New York Convention involving conflicts of law issues, avoiding competing jurisdictions, and the public policy exception under Article V. Honeywell International Middle East Ltd v Meydan Group Llc  2 Lloyd’s Rep 133.