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Serena Cheng QC Barrister Atkin Chambers

Serena Cheng QC


Silk 2017

"Her preparation was immaculate and her presentation was brilliant."

"Technically excellent"


Chambers and Partners

Serena Cheng QC is a commercial litigation and arbitration specialist whose practice focuses on technically and legally complex energy, engineering and infrastructure disputes. She is an experienced trial advocate who has represented a wide range of employers and contractors both domestically and internationally, with a particular emphasis on the Middle East.

“Serena has a great ability to express complex legal arguments in a way that is clear and straightforward.” “Tactically very astute, down-to-earth.” (Chambers and Partners 2018)

“A tenacious cross-examiner whose pleadings are excellent.” “She is diligent, efficient and innovative in her approach to complex issues.” (Chambers and Partners 2017 )

“She demonstrates excellent legal interpretation and is commercially savvy.” (Legal 500 2016)

ENERGY AND UTILITIES

OIL AND GAS

  • Counsel for the EPCM contractor in defence of a claim for damages for breach of the exclusivity and confidentiality provisions in Heads of Terms relating to the provision of bridge finance in support of the procurement of a heavy fuel oil-fired thermoelectric power plant in Peru. (US$25 million claimed).
  • Counsel for the market-leading provider of deep-water drilling services in an LCIA arbitration concerning the operator’s wrongful termination of a contract for the provision of a semisubmersible drilling rig for exploration off Libya. (US$87 million awarded).
  • Counsel for the main contractor under an EPCC contract for the first commercial production facility to be brought on-stream in Iraq after the Gulf War. Document-heavy and detailed final account and delay dispute with the main sub-contractor under the LCIA Arbitration Rules. Variations of and delay to two-process-train commercial oil production facility and associated crude oil fluid storage and transfer facilities.
  • Counsel for the main contractor in defence of a sub-contractor’s TCC claim for damages for breach of a cooperation agreement relating to a bid to provide geophysical services to BP on the Risha oil field, Jordan.

NATURAL ENERGY

  • Wind farm: counsel for the main contractor in three-party Commercial Court proceedings arising out of the exploration of the largest wind zone offshore the UK. Technically, legally and tactically complex case concerning the cause of, and liability for, the failure of a monopile and delay to the project.
  • Wind farm: counsel 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 contractor disputed the Courts’ jurisdiction to hear the claim and the applicability of the Arbitration Act 1996 to arbitration with a Scottish seat.

POWER AND UTILITIES

  • Power Station: counsel for the bond-provider in its application for an injunction to restrain calls on two performance bonds ($40 million) given in support of the manufacture and supply of two 360MW boilers for installation at Pecem Power Station, Brazil.
  • Power Station: counsel for the joint-venture purchaser in its highly technical claim for damages for breach of the asset warranties contained in a share purchase agreement concerning the largest combined cycle gas turbine power station in Europe. The JV claimed damages of £121 million. The case was listed for 11 weeks and was one of The Lawyer’s “Top 20 cases of 2013”. The case concerned defects in steam turbines, a natural gas pipeline.A transformer, a condenser, and a firewater ring main. Contractual limitation excluding claims if not notified “as soon as reasonably practicable”.
  • Electricity: counsel for the Master Developer in two conjoined DIAC arbitrations concerning the incidence of liability to pay for electrical connections to sub-developments in a Dubai free zone.
  • Electricity pipeline: counsel for a utility company in arbitral proceedings concerning the engineering Contractor’s entitlement to payment for the construction of an electricity pipeline.
  • 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.
  • Culverts: counsel for the sub-contractor in a DIAC arbitration concerning its entitlement to repayment of bond monies (AED 33 million) called in relation to the construction of the culverts under a development intended to be 50% larger than the Palm Jumeria, Dubai and the contractor’s counterclaim for damages (AED 173.3 million). Involved detailed submissions on the UAE law governing an arbitrator’s jurisdiction.

WASTE

  • Waste-water treatment plant: counsel to the utilities provider in proposed TCC proceedings against six defendants concerning the design and construction of the nitrifying trickling filters at nine wastewater treatment plants across the north of England, on NEC terms.
  • Waste-water treatment plant: counsel 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.
  • Effluent-treatment plant: counsel 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.

PFI / PPP

  • PFI Hospital: counsel for the NHS Trust in relation to its claims to apply Deductions and Service Failure Points in relation to historic Failures which Project Co had failed itself to record.
  • PFI Hospital: 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.
  • PFI Hospital: 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.
  • Waste-management PFI Project: counsel for the bond-providers in relation to the main contractor’s purported call on bonds given in support of a technology provider’s design and construction of four in-vessel composting plants within the Greater Manchester Waste Management PFI Project.  
  • Waste-processing plant: counsel to the funder in name-borrowing adjudication proceedings arising out of a suite of nine contracts concerning the funding, design, construction and operation of a waste processing plant procured in a PFI context.

TRANSPORT

AIR

  • 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. 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 damages for late payment;
  • Counsel for the structural steelworks sub-contractor in a two-week DIAC arbitration concerning the construction and connection design of the structural steel rack of the Cargo Mega Terminal at Dubai International Airport. The case involved detailed submissions on UAE law.

RAIL

  • Counsel for the rail network in an adjudication concerning the effect of inconsistent clauses in a complex, NEC-based, contract for the extension of the London Overground (underlying claim value £10 million);
  • Counsel for the main contractor in tri-partite TCC proceedings concerning the design of a rail maintenance depot. The case raised issues of geotechnical engineering, rail logistics, programming and the quantification of future losses;
  • 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.

MARITIME

  • Advising the employer in relation to the design and construction of a harbour in the UK.

ROAD

  • Acting in two large road-building arbitrations concerning the foreseeability of site conditions, the identification and valuation of variations and the Contractor’s entitlement to extensions of time and delay and disruption costs.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS

  • Counsel for the contractor in an ICC arbitration concerning a Government’s wrongful termination of a contract for the design, procurement, installation, integration and commissioning of an airport IT system, network and security systems at an international airport in the Middle East.
  • Adjudication proceedings concerning the installation of a trans-European system of fibre-optic cables;
  • Court proceedings concerning billing errors under a three-year mobile-phone air-time on-selling agreement.

CONSTRUCTION, ENGINEERING AND INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Low density polyethylene plant: counsel to the EPC contractor on claims arising out of the termination of EPC contracts concerning two world-scale low density polyethylene plants and the employer’s call on bonds and guarantees given in relation thereto. The employer claimed £133.9 million pursuant to contract. The EPC contractor sought to recover £28.5 million paid by its bondsman and guarantor.
  • Mixed-use development: 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.
  • Mixed-use development: leading counsel for the contractor in a CRCICA arbitration concerning the contractor’s entitlement to extensions of time and loss and expense in relation to the concrete, architectural and electromechanical packages of a 750,000 m2 integrated urban development in Egypt.
  • Stadia: counsel for the control systems sub-contractor in TCC proceedings concerning the design, construction and commissioning of the control systems of Wembley Stadium.
  • Hotel complex: counsel for the employer in arbitral proceedings concerning its entitlement to €32 million and US$10 million for the defective project management of a hotel, conference and commercial development at the junction of the White Nile and the Blue Nile in Sudan;
  • College: counsel for the main contractor in an UNCITRAL arbitration concerning the design and construction of a men’s higher education college in Dubai on FIDIC-based terms;
  • Supermarkets: counsel for the contractor from inception to appeal in TCC proceedings concerning its entitlement to payment for facilities management services at 372 supermarket outlets under letters of intent.
  • Historic structures: counsel for the employer in a six-week final account arbitration concerning the renovation of an historic conservatory, pavilions and park in Liverpool.
  • Private development: counsel for the employer in a three-week TCC trial concerning the contractor’s final account for the renovation of a high-value private residence in Kensington.

PROFESSIONAL NEGLIGENCE 

  • Counsel for the third-party designer in proceedings concerning the design and construction of a print-works in Sheffield;
  • Acting for the engineer in a claim arising out of its design of a methane gas extraction and processing plant;
  • Advising the employer on the liabilities of the contractor, engineer and architect involved in revetment works along the Medway River;
  • Counsel for the architect in a four-week trial concerning the adequacy of its design of a dye-works.

OTHER PROFESSIONAL INTERESTS

Serena is a member of COMBAR, LCLCBA and the SCL.  She served on TECBAR’s Management Committee between c. 2010 and 2017.

She tutors advocacy for Lincoln’s Inn and was, for 15 years, a governor of a Leathersellers’ school in South East London.