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Steven Walker QC Barrister Atkin Chambers

Steven Walker QC


Silk 2012

“Brilliant advocate, very difficult to beat.”


Legal 500

Steven Walker QC 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 [2017] 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 [2018] EWHC 729 (TCC) [2018] 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 [2017] 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 [2017] 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 [2014] 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 [2013] EWHC 2916 (TCC), [2013] 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.
  • Successfully acted in the Court of Appeal on behalf of the defendant in an appeal against the decision in PBS Energo A.S. v Bester Generacion UK Ltd[2019] EWHC 996 (TCC) [2019] BLR 350 which rejected the appellant’s claim for summary judgment made to enforce the decision of an adjudicator in 2018. PBS Energo AS v Bester Generacion UK Ltd [2020] EWCA Civ 404.
  • 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 [2014] 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.

PROFESSIONAL NEGLIGENCE

He has extensive experience in claims involving allegations of professional negligence in the construction sector. Recent examples include Goldswain & Anor v Beltec Ltd [2015] 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 [2018] 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 [2008] 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.

NOTABLE CASES

PBS Energo AS v Bester Generacion UK Ltd [2020] EWCA Civ 404 – successful defence of appeal against the decision in PBS Energo A.S. v Bester Generacion UK Ltd [2019] EWHC 996 (TCC) [2019] BLR 350.

PBS Energo AS v Bester Generacion UK [2019] EWHC 996 (TCC); [2019] BLR 350: adjudication enforcement – summary judgment refused where decision arguably procured by fraud.

Gosvenor London v Aygun Aluminium [2018] EWCA Civ 2695; [2019] BLR 99: adjudication enforcement – stay of execution – applicable principles regarding fraud allegations raised to support a stay application.

R G Carter v Kier Business Services [2018] EWHC 729 (TCC); [2018] BLR 441: the proper construction of section 10 of the Limitation Act 1980 (claims for contribution under the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978).

Sutton Housing Partnership v Rydon Maintenance [2017] EWCA Civ 359; [2017] 1 All ER (D) 126): the proper construction of KPI and Minimum Acceptable Performance levels in a term contract for the maintenance of local authority housing.

Balfour Beatty Regional Construction v Grove Developments [2016] EWCA Civ 990; [2017] BLR 1: the proper construction of payment provisions in an amended JCT Standard Form Design and Build 2011.

Goldswain v Beltec and anor [2015] EWHC 556 (TCC); [2015] BLR 300: professional negligence and a professional’s duty to warn where harm may occur.

Doosan Babcock v Comercializadora De Equipos Y Materiales Mabe Limitada [2014] BLR 33 – Injunction to restrain call on bonds – approach to injunctions in cases where beneficiary may be in breach – principle that no party may benefit from its own wrong.

SABIC v Punj Lloyd [2014] BLR 43: Delay – Obligation to carry out works “with due diligence” – Meaning – Implied terms – Whether implied term not to hinder or disrupt – Whether implied term to do all necessary to bring about completion of contract – Exclusion clauses – Limitation clauses – Whether clause limiting aggregate liability of contractor applied to claim for payment under termination provision – Whether claims for lost revenue and interest excluded by clause excluding liability for consequential and indirect loss, expense or damage and for loss of production or profit.

Mi-Space (UK) v Lend Lease [2013] BLR 600: Pre-action disclosure and whether contract contained an agreement to refer disputes to arbitration.

Parkwood Leisure v Laing O’Rourke [2013] BLR 589: Whether collateral warranty amounts to a contract for the carrying out of construction operations within the meaning of the Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration Act.

Transport for Greater Manchester v Thales [2012] 146 Con LR 194: Claim for specific performance of obligations.

Transport for Greater Manchester v Thales [2013] BLR 339: Whether reports on performance subject to litigation privilege.

Durham CC v Kendall [2011] BLR 425: Enforcement of adjudicator’s decision – waiver of objection – identity of claimant – whether contract terms in writing.

John Youngs Insurance v Aviva [2012] 1 All ER (Comm) 1045: Extent of fiduciary duty owed by a contractor to the employer.

Mouchel v Van Oord (UK) [2011] BLR 492: Claims for costs under the Contribution Act 1978.

Supablast v Story Rail [2010] BLR 211: Enforcement of adjudicator’s decision – whether arguable defence there were 2 contracts.

Speymill v Baskind [2010] BLR 257 (CA): Enforcement of adjudicator’s decision where fraud is alleged.

HS Works v Enterprise [2009] BLR 378: Adjudication – natural justice – multiple adjudications and method of enforcement using set-off.

QUALIFICATIONS AND AWARDS

2012:  Appointed Queen’s Counsel

1989-1992: LLB (Hons) (1st Class), University of East Anglia

1991: The Observer Mace Mooting Competition (Winner)

1993: Hardwicke Scholar

1993: Wolfson Scholar

1993: Called to the Bar (England & Wales)

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Steven is a member of TECBAR, SCL and the LCLLCBA.

RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS

“He’s excellent at strategy, and has great technical ability and client service. He gets things done quickly and efficiently.” “Very thorough and dedicated, he has an excellent manner with clients and is an absolute pleasure to work with. He has a deceptively understated cross-examination style which is highly effective.”

Construction, Chambers UK Bar 2020

 

“Steven is very assured and provides concise, effective advice. His calm and decisive manner is much appreciated.”

Energy, Chambers UK Bar 2020

 

“Excellent and very bright.”

Construction, The Legal 500 2020

 

“He is a very skilled advocate.”

Professional Negligence, The Legal 500 2020

 

“Clear, reassuring and calm under pressure. His advice is pragmatic and to the point.” “Always available, he gives excellent client service and the right advice. He has an excellent manner both with the client and in court.”

Construction, Chambers UK Bar 2019

 

“Incredibly hard-working, very clever and a real team player. He’s got a really effective, understated style of cross-examination.” “Steven is highly dependable and will produce when called upon.”

Energy, Chambers UK Bar 2019

 

“Brilliant advocate, very difficult to beat.”

Construction, The Legal 500 2019

 

“Excellent technical advice.”

Professional Negligence, The Legal 500 2019

 

“Thorough, dedicated and an absolute pleasure to work with. He has an excellent manner with clients.” “Steven delivers advice in a no-nonsense, straightforward and very clear manner. He has a calm, reassuring presence and is on top of the detail very quickly without losing sight of the overall strategy.”

Construction, Chambers UK Bar 2018 and Chambers Global 2018

 

“He’s very thoughtful, strategic and calm.”

Energy & Natural Resources, Chambers UK Bar 2018 and Chambers Global 2018

 

“He has experience in Dubai skyscraper cases.”

Construction, The Legal 500 Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) 2018

 

“A reassuring presence for clients requiring pragmatic advice.”

Construction, The Legal 500 2017

 

“Very commercial and technically excellent.”

Professional Negligence, The Legal 500 2017

 

“He is technically excellent, considered in his approach and always striving to find a practical solution.”

Construction, Chambers UK Bar 2017

 

“He’s technically excellent and really thinks around the issues to find a practical solution.” “He’s straight to the point – he tells us exactly what we need to do. He’s always available, very responsive, prompt in his advice and just generally nice to work with.”

Energy & Natural Resources, Chambers UK Bar 2017

 

“An excellent strategist whose outstanding client service is second to none.”

Construction, Chambers Global 2017

 

“An expert on technically heavy energy cases”

Energy & Natural Resources, Chambers Global 2017

 

“Steven Walker QC is a highly regarded advocate on the domestic and international scene. One peer notes, ‘He is thorough, gets on top of the detail and leaves no stone unturned – you have to be on your game against him.’”

Who’s Who Legal UK Bar 2017

 

“He steers clients through difficult questions with ease.”

Construction, The Legal 500 2016

 

“He has a quiet air of authority.”

Professional Negligence, The Legal 500 2016

 

The above are a selection of recent client endorsements from the leading legal directories, both UK and internationally. For a complete list of endorsements, please contact the practice management team at Atkin Chambers.