Steven Walker QC
“Brilliant advocate, very difficult to beat.”
Steven specialises in advising and representing parties to complex commercial contracts relating to a wide range of subject matter including the design and delivery of buildings, oil and gas installations, power generation plant, process and engineering plant, ships, IT systems, telecommunications systems, PFI/PPP, facilities management and professional services.
Steven has extensive experience in the energy sector having been heavily involved in a number of projects concerning the design and construction of offshore wind farms, energy from waste plants and other forms of renewable energy.
Transport-related projects have formed an important part of Steven’s practice over the past 25 years. His first case in the sector concerned the Eurostar high-speed train sets and since then he has been involved in numerous projects in the road, rail and air sectors including the construction of the HS1 high-speed rail link, airport runways and other airport infrastructure, overground and underground rail and tram systems, road construction/extension, and communication systems.
He has appeared as advocate in the Technology and Construction Court (TCC), the Court of Appeal, numerous arbitrations (including ICC, DIAC, UNCITRAL, HKIAC, LCIA and LMAA) and adjudications, and in expert determination and mediation. His arbitration experience includes substantial international experience.
“A “very impressive and very clever” advocate, who handles TCC and Court of Appeal cases. He focuses on a diverse range of contractual disputes including those relating to the construction of buildings, oil and gas installations, and ships.” (Construction, Chambers & Partners)
“Very user-friendly and great at analysing the facts. He’s very cool and calm under pressure.” (Construction, Chambers & Partners)
“He is responsive, user-friendly, approachable and quite direct in ensuring he does what needs to be done.” (Energy & Natural Resources, Chambers & Partners)
CONSTRUCTION, ENGINEERING AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Steven is instructed by employers, contractors, sub-contractors, consultants and insurers on all aspects of construction and engineering contracts, including PFI/PPP projects, and claims involving allegations of professional negligence. Recent cases include:
- Representing an international contractor in ICC arbitration and related proceedings in the Commercial Court in disputes concerning the termination of FIDIC (World Bank) contracts for the upgrading of motorways and restraining calls on performance securities provided pursuant to those contracts. Steven appeared in the Commercial Court (A v B  EWHC 2055) and in the ICC arbitration.
- Successfully conducted the trial of limitation issues under the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978 in RG Carter v Kier  EWHC 729 (TCC)  BLR 441.
- Appeared in the Commercial Court in a claim for payment under a guarantee relating to a Share Purchaser Agreement (Abbot Investments v Nestoil  EWHC 119 (Comm)).
- Acting for the contractor in arbitration proceedings under the UNCITRAL Rules arising from the termination of a FIDIC contract for the construction of process plant.
- Successfully conducted an appeal to the Court of Appeal in Sutton Housing Partnership v Rydon  EWCA Civ 359. The appeal concerned the proper interpretation of a standard form contract for housing maintenance.
- Acting for the contractor employed to construct a 101-storey residential skyscraper in Dubai. The case concerned the termination of the cladding subcontractor’s employment during the works.
- Acting for the contractor employed to construct a 122-floor 500m+ residential skyscraper in Dubai. The case concerned the contractor’s claims for termination of the contract, payment and loss of profit. The claims were for circa. £ 200m. Issues included whether there was an entitlement to terminate and the sums due upon termination.
- Airport infrastructure:
- Acting for the contractor in disputes under an NEC Contract relating to the design and construction of an airport runway and navigational aids.
- Acting for the employer in disputes under an NEC Contract relating to the design and construction of airport facilities.
- Successfully obtaining injunctions in the TCC to restrain a main contractor from taking a subcontractor’s confidential plans that were on site in Saudi Arabia following a disputed termination pending a claim in arbitration (Seele Middle East FZE v Drake & Scull International SA Co  EWHC 435 (TCC).
- Representing the contractor in a trial in the TCC concerning the lawfulness of the termination of a contract for the design and construction of a LDPE plant (Sabic UK Petrochemicals Ltd v Punj Lloyd Ltd  EWHC 2916 (TCC),  Bus LR D81).
ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Steven has acted for owners, EPC contractors, subcontractors and insurers in relation to disputes in the power generation and oil and gas sectors for many years. In more recent years he has worked on numerous projects in the renewable energy sector.
- Acting for EPC contractors and owners in various disputes arising from the design and construction of energy from waste facilities and other power generation plants in the renewable energy sector.
- Acting for a subcontractor in an application under section 44 of the Arbitration Act 1996 to restrain calls being made on performance bonds provided in respect of a contract for the supply of plant for use in a power generation plant in Brazil (Doosan Babcock v Comercializadora De Equipos Y Materiales Mabe Limitada  BLR 33).
- Deciding on a number of disputes between the principal contractor and an engineering contractor in relation to the expansion of an LNG import terminal. Appointed to act as adjudicator by agreement of the parties. The disputes concerned the alleged existence of variations, the definition of the Works and the correct method of valuation of variations.
- Advising and acting for an EPC contractor engaged in the engineering and construction of an onshore plant for the processing of gas from offshore fields. Issues arose as to the operation of the payment provisions of a contract between the EPC contractor and a subcontractor, the assessment of sums due to the subcontractor, the existence and operation of rights of set-off on the part of the EPC contractor and the quantification of sums that might be claimed by way of set-off.
- Representing the employer in an expert determination arising from the supply and installation of power generation plant.
- Advising the developer of an offshore wind farm in various disputes concerning access to wind and weather data and pile installation.
- Acting for the main contractor in relation to a project for the design and construction of a 65MW £200m biomass power plant. The dispute involved proceedings in the TCC relating to three adjudication decisions. There followed three arbitration proceedings relating to the specific performance of subcontract obligations.
- Advising and representing the owner of an offshore wind farm (Greater Gabbard) in relation to arbitration proceedings under the LCIA rules. The proceedings concerned issues relating to the contractor’s alleged entitlement to additional payment (c.£300m), extensions of time and liquidated damages (c.£90m).
- Advising the owner developing an offshore wind farm in relation to issues arising from design modifications to foundation structures.
He has extensive experience in claims involving allegations of professional negligence in the construction sector. Recent examples include Goldswain & Anor v Beltec Ltd  BLR 300 which involved allegations of professional negligence against a firm of engineers in relation to the design of temporary works for the construction of a basement under existing premises which collapsed. Steven successfully defended the claim. Other recent cases include:
- Acting for the contractor in a contribution claim against the designer of a school (RG Carter v Kier  EWHC 729 (TCC)).
- Acting for the contractor in proceedings arising from the Dartington “eco school scandal” which involved the design and construction of a carbon zero school which was demolished in 2016, around six years after completion, due to water damage.
- Acting for geotechnical engineers in relation to claims made relating to ground investigation services and advice in relation to foundation design.
- A claim alleging professional negligence against surveyors retained by lenders to advise on a proposed development and to monitor the construction of the development.
- A claim alleging that quantity surveyors had been negligent in the administration of a target cost contract.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
Steven is instructed by purchasers and suppliers in numerous cases relating to the provision of advanced technology, either on its own or included as part of package of other works and services. His experience includes the following:
- Obtaining specific performance of obligations under a contract for the supply of a tram operating system in connection with the extension of the Manchester tram network and representing the employer in relation to disputes arising under that contract (Transport for Greater Manchester v Thales Transport & Security).
- Obtaining an interim injunction on behalf of Talaris BV restraining marketing of computer software which was alleged to be in breach of an exclusive distribution agreement (Talaris BV v Network Controls International  EWHC 2930 (TCC)).
- Acting for out-sourcing specialists in relation to disputes arising from a long-term outsourcing contract for the provision of (amongst other things) IT and management systems to a public body. Issues included the availability of injunctive relief to restrain the client from exercising termination provisions.