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Sir Robert Akenhead Portrait

Sir Robert Akenhead

Arbitrator, Adjudicator & Mediator

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 numerous different types of case involving disputes as to defects, final accounts, measurement, delay and disruption claims, professional negligence, bonds and guarantees, contractual and statutory interpretation and the like.

His international practice took him to most parts of the world (Africa, Middle East, Asia, Australia, USA, Caribbean, Europe). He was 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.

He also had and has an extensive practice as arbitrator, adjudicator and conciliator. He was and is involved in Dispute Adjudication/Review Boards. He is an editor of the Building Law Reports.

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

Since retirement as a judge, he has acted as arbitrator, adjudicator, expert and mediator in disputes around the world, including Singapore, Australia, Central America, Europe, Hong Kong, the West Indies, the Middle East and the UK.


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 transhipment 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 – Saudi Arabian law applicable.  Two substantive hearings.
  • 1988-90 – Arbitration (in Paris) – acted for British contractors who claimed £15m from an Egyptian financial institution. ICC Arbitration.  Following c5 weeks of substantive hearings, contractors recovered c£8m plus in two awards.  Dispute related to 30 storey office building in Cairo.  English law applicable.
  • 1992 – Arbitration (in Singapore) – acted for Dutch/Singaporean J.V. who were effectively proceeded against by a government authority for abandoning a dredging/reclamation project. After 7 weeks of hearings, the case was compromised favourably.  Singapore law applicable;
  • 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;
  • 1992 – 1994 – Arbitration (in London) – acted for German contractors claiming c£50m from an African government who counterclaim c£75m. The dispute related to some 80 miles of road construction.  Substantive hearings in December 1993;
  • 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 – 2002 – Acted as Counsel on oil operators dispute (India) – hearings in London;
  • 2001 – Acted as Counsel on earthworks dispute on Chep Lap Kok airport, Hong Kong. Arbitration hearings in Hong Kong;
  • 2001- Acted as Counsel for 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);
  • 2001- 2004 – Acted as Counsel on a power station dispute for Indian owners and operators. ICC arbitration in London. Claims for delays, non-performance and defects cUS$120m;
  • 2002 – 2004 – Acting as Counsel on a major arbitration in Hong Kong in relation to short bored piles;
  • 2002 – Acted as Counsel on disputes relating to a power station in the Philippines;
  • 2002 – Retained as Counsel in an ICC arbitration relating to a major mining collapse in India. Hearing in London;
  • 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.


Sir Robert has sat as arbitrator in cases over the following disputes (amongst others):

  • Disputes relating to delay and defects on multi-storey housing blocks. (Gibraltar) – Chairman of ICC Tribunal.
  • Disputes relating to final account claims on a nuclear power station related construction project. (UK) – Adjudicator.
  • Disputes relating to a power station- delays and loss. (Indonesia) – Adjudicator.
  • Disputes relating to marine harbour works. (Oman) – ICC arbitration.
  • Disputes relating to power station –delays and damages- English arbitration.
  • Mining Related disputes – English arbitration.
  • West African Hydro-Electric Scheme – Mediator.
  • Underground Railway disputes – Mediator/Conciliator.
  • North Sea Operations dispute – Adjudicator.
  • Hydropower Project (Pakistan)- Dispute Review Board Chairman.
  • Fire Insurance dispute (Tanzania) – Chairman of arbitrators.
  • Flood Relief Scheme dispute (UK) – Conciliator.
  • Motorway renovation dispute (UK) – Arbitrator.
  • Motorway delay loss and expense disputes (UK) – Arbitrator.
  • Power station disputes (Philippines) – Arbitrator
  • Oil processing and refinery dispute (Khazakhstan) –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
  • Motorway term maintenance (UK)– expert determination
  • Magnesium plant (Jordan) –termination and delay – ICC arbitration
  • UK Motorway term contract – expert determination
  • 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
  • DAB container terminal Central America – chairman
  • DAB container terminal Eastern Europe – party nominated member
  • 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
  • DAB Middle Eastern airport disputes – sole member
  • Mediator – Far Eastern airport disputes
  • Mediator – Middle East dam disputes
  • Arbitration – Chairman – Australia – power supply issues
  • Arbitration – ICC – Chairman – Power station construction – Iraq
  • 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



Called to the Bar of England and Wales


Appointed Queens Counsel


Recorder and Deputy Construction Court Judge


Bencher Inner Temple


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


Judge in Charge of the TCC



Appointed to the KLRCA Panel of Arbitrators


“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