Sir Robert Akenhead Portrait

Sir Robert Akenhead

Arbitrator, Adjudicator & Mediator

Since retirement as a judge, Sir Robert acts as arbitrator, adjudicator, expert, conciliator and mediator in disputes across the world. He is also appointed to Dispute Adjudication/Review Boards. His international practice means he is involved extensively in arbitrations and disputes relating to projects inter alia in China, India, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Fiji, Egypt, Algeria, Ghana, Kenya, Iran, Yemen, Bahrain, Dubai, Oman, Trinidad, Bahamas, Dutch Antilles, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines, Russia, and Poland.

In continuous practice from 1973 to 2007 as a specialist construction law barrister, Sir Robert Akenhead had an extensive UK and international workload, both in court and in arbitration. His work covered a wide-ranging field of different types of construction: buildings, power stations, dams, tunnels, roads, bridges, oil and gas installations, harbours, pipelines, dredging, reclamation, mining operations, mechanical and electrical works, airports, shipbuilding, and computer technology. He acted for employers, developers, governments, local/administrative authorities, contractors, sub-contractors, all types of construction-related professionals (e.g., architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and project managers) and funding institutions.

Within this specialist field, he acted in various cases involving disputes concerning defects, final accounts, measurement, delay and disruption claims, professional negligence, bonds and guarantees and, contractual and statutory interpretation.

Over his 8 years as a High Court Judge, he dealt with all types of construction, engineering, and technology cases, including appeals from and challenges to arbitral awards.


Examples include:

  • Disputes relating to delay and defects on multi-storey housing blocks. (Gibraltar) – Chairman of ICC Tribunal.
  • President in an ICC arbitration regarding an airport in eastern Africa. Claims in excess of USD130million
  • President in an ICC arbitration regarding the design, supply and construction of a solar photovoltaic power plant in eastern Africa. Claims in excess of USD85million
  • Appointed President in an ICC arbitration regarding a solar farm in UAE. Claims circa USD325million
  • Party nominated arbitrator in an ICC arbitration regarding a desalination plant in Oman based on Reverse Osmosis Technology. Claims in excess of USD20million.
  • Appointed as party appointed arbitrator in an LCIA arbitration regarding damage to a petrochemical plant in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia caused by explosions and causing the death of one person and injuries to others. Claims in excess of 340millionUSD
  • Party nominated arbitrator (ICC) regarding a desalination plant in Qatar.
  • President in an LCIA arbitration regarding photovoltaic modules and PV panels for various solar energy projects across the world. Claims in excess of USD300million.
  • Party nominated arbitrator (ICC) regarding a motorway project in North Macedonia. Claims in excess of USD50million.
  • Appointed as party nominated arbitrator in an ICC arbitration regarding a rapid transit system in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  • President of an ICC arbitration regarding an oil storage terminal in UAE
  • President in an LCIA arbitration regarding an oil field in Iraq
  • Sole arbitrator under ICE rules regarding upgrade works to a major carriageway in UK
  • Party nominated arbitrator (UNCITRAL rules seated Oman) regarding 2 gas supply stations in Middle East.
  • Hydro electric plant in South Asia – Party nominated – (UNCITRAL rules, seat Nepal).
  • IT program for UK Government – Party nominated – LCIA arbitration.
  • Biomass power station in UK – President – ICC
  • Oil and Gas facility in Kuwait – party nominated – ICC
  • Desalination plant in Qatar – President – ICC
  • Hotel resort in UAE – party nominated – ICC
  • Airport in Southeast Asia – Party nominated – SIAC
  • Disputes relating to marine harbour works. (Oman) – ICC arbitration.
  • Disputes relating to power station –delays and damages- English arbitration.
  • Fire Insurance dispute (Tanzania) – Chairman of arbitrators.
  • Power station disputes (Philippines) – Arbitrator
  • Oil processing and refinery dispute (Kazakhstan) –defects – one of three arbitrators LCIA arbitration
  • Oil pipeline dispute (Turkey) – delay – ICC arbitration
  • Naval base reconstruction – UK arbitration
  • Steelworks (Egypt) – variations and delay– ICC arbitration
  • Magnesium plant (Jordan) – termination and delay – ICC arbitration
  • Insurance dispute UK – sole arbitrator – LCIA arbitration
  • Mining infrastructure (crushing plant/railway line/locomotive and wagons and marine facility) disputes – final account – delays – defects – Pacific Rim – chairman SIAC arbitration
  • Gas pipelines arbitration Pacific Rim – delays, variations, and defects – SIAC arbitration, party nominated arbitrator
  • Airport arbitration Middle East– ICC – party nominated arbitrator
  • Process plant arbitration – delays and termination – Middle East – sole arbitrator
  • Oil handling disputes arbitration – accounting disputes – Australia – party nominated member
  • Tram provision contract disputes – UK – sole Arbitrator
  • Oil and gas land installations – Northern Territory, Australia -SIAC Arbitration
  • Caspian Sea Oil platform support services – LCIA Arbitration – party nominated arbitrator – variations and delays
  • Arbitration – Chairman – Australia – power supply issues
  • Arbitration – ICC – Chairman – Power station construction – Iraq
  • Arbitration – ICC – Sole arbitrator – Polysilicon production plant dispute – Middle East
  • Arbitration – ICC – Chairman – East African Airport disputes
  • Arbitration – ICC Chairman – Malawi – Power disputes


Examples include:

  • Disputes relating to final account claims on a nuclear power station related construction project. (UK) – Adjudicator.
  • Dispute concerning an NEC3 contract to provide design and construction works and services for a UK Government facility.
  • Disputes relating to a power station- delays and loss. (Indonesia) – Adjudicator.
  • North Sea Operations dispute – Adjudicator.
  • Hydropower Project (Pakistan) – Dispute Review Board Chairman
  • Nuclear Power Plant in Northern Europe – DAB member
  • Container Terminal in Americas – DAB chairman
  • Airports in Middle East – DAB member
  • Airport in Middle East – DAB Chairman
  • Power stations in South Africa – DAB Chairman


Examples include:

  • West African Hydro-Electric Scheme
  • Underground Railway disputes in Southeast Asia – Mediator/Conciliator.
  • Flood Relief Scheme dispute (UK) – Conciliator.
  • Motorway term maintenance (UK)– expert determination
  • UK Motorway term contract – expert determination
  • Far Eastern airport disputes
  • Middle East dam disputes
  • Refurbishment of an Emergency care Hospital in England under a PFI contract
  • Fire safety issues following refurbishment of a council housing estate in England


Examples of arbitrations (Counsel involvement):

  • 1985-88 – Arbitration (in London) – acted for contractors being claimed against by USA Company for $30m for alleged defects in oil trans-shipment facility marine jetty. After c40 days of hearing the USA company effectively withdrew.
  • 1987-89 – Arbitration (in London) – acted for a Saudi Arabian building materials factory claiming cUS$20m from an American company which counterclaimed cUS$30m. ICC arbitration.
  • 1989 – 1993 – Arbitration (in Paris) – acted for Italian contractors claiming substantial sums against a Middle East government agency relating to the construction of an embassy building in a North African country. Four substantive hearings have established liability in favour of the contractors. UNCITRAL Rules applicable.  Algerian law applicable.
  • 1996 – 2000 – acted as counsel for Italian J.V. on repudiation claim relating to a dam contract in Kenya – three substantive hearings in Paris. Kenyan law. Clients recovered c$6m.
  • 1999 – 2000 – acted as counsel in UNCITRAL arbitration in Trinidad – disputed related to $300m oil refinery refurbishment.
  • 1999 – 2001 – acted as counsel on a US$ 350m river training World Bank funded project-appeared on two DRB hearings in Bangladesh.
  • 1998 – 2001 – acted as counsel on oil platform dispute (Sharjah) with hearings in London.
  • 1998 – 2000 – acted as counsel directly retained by Indonesian clients – claim by Dutch contractors on dredging/reclamation project. Two hearings in Java. Counterclaim for defects.
  • 1999 – Advised international contractors on power station projects in China.
  • 2001 – Acted as counsel on earthworks dispute on Chep Lap Kok airport, Hong Kong. Arbitration hearings in Hong Kong.
  • 2001- Acted as counsel for a government agency on hydro-electric/dam project in China ($300m claims).
  • 2002- 2003 – Acted as counsel for government agency on a water and tunnelling project in China ($400m claims).
  • 2002 – 2004 – Acting as counsel on a major arbitration in Hong Kong in relation to short bored piles.
  • 2002 – 2003 – Retained as counsel in Hong Kong arbitration relating to a building services dispute on Hong Kong Airport.
  • 2003-2004 – Retained as counsel in relation to a major power station project in Indonesia.
  • 2004-2006 – Acted as counsel on land reclamation misrepresentation claim in Hong Kong.
  • Arbitration – ICC – Sole arbitrator – Polysilicon production plant dispute – Middle East.


Sir Robert has over 200 reported cases between October 2007 to August 2015 (see TCC cases on examples include:


  • Editor (Joint), Building law Reports 1999 – date
  • Site Investigation and the Law (1984 Thomas Telford) with J Cottington.
  • Technology and Construction Court Practice and Procedure (2006 OUP) with Michael Davis


2016-2019                  Appointed to the KLRCA Panel of Arbitrators

2010-2013                  Judge in Charge of the TCC


2007-2015                  High Court Judge (Queens Bench Division allocated to the TCC)

1991–2007                 Recorder and Deputy Construction Court Judge

1997                        Bencher Inner Temple

1989                        Appointed Queens Counsel

1972                        Called to the Bar of England and Wales


“Absolutely top notch. He has really good judgement, works hard and is always on top of the papers.” “He is very impressive, effective and spot on with the legal procedure.”

International Arbitration: Arbitrators, Chambers and Partners UK Bar 2021


Sir Robert is recommended as a mediator in The Legal 500 2021


“He has a remarkable capacity to pick up a case quickly.”

International Arbitration: Arbitrators, Chambers and Partners UK Bar 2020


Sir Robert is recommended as a mediator in The Legal 500 2020