Richard Wilmot-Smith QC

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+44 (0)20 7832 1111

Richard Wilmot-Smith QC is a specialist in all aspects of construction and engineering litigation and arbitration. His experience includes disputes involving performance bonds, guarantees, and related professional negligence claims against architects, engineers and surveyors.

His expertise also extends to issues involving European law, environmental law (including coal and nuclear power and waste incidents), libel, health & safety, railways and oil & gas. He has acted in litigation and arbitrations concerned with major projects in the United Kingdom, the United States, Tanzania, Egypt, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, Iran, Iraq, Dubai, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

His major projects include roads, tunnels and structures including ports and dry docks, housing estates, schools and universities, factories, transport and energy systems (including power stations), food processing, and oil platforms and refineries. He has acted as advocate and as arbitrator in the UK and abroad, in matters ranging from substantial and complex construction and commercial matters, to the smaller arbitrations. His reputation is particularly strong in matters with a heavy technical and engineering content.  As arbitrator he has been appointed on an ad hoc basis and pursuant to ICC nomination.

Recent matters in which he has been involved include:

  • Acting in a major road arbitration in Tanzania.
  • Acting in a series of cases between the concessionaire of a major tramway and TfL’s buses subsidiary over the terms of the concession agreement, the responsibility to expand the system and the terms of proper payment to the concessionaire.
  • Acting for contractor in a dispute in relation to the Dartford Tunnel.
  • Acting in a number of arbitrations involving road disputes in the Middle East – usually involving defective specifications.
  • Acting and advising in relation to flooding claims, including acting for contractors in the current litigation over the flooding of the Tate Gallery basement.
  • Acting in relation to claims, arising out of fires, brought by employers against architects and contractors in multi party actions.
  • Acting for  engineers in claim by the Secretary of State for Transport over  the design of the refurbishment of Thelwall Viaduct.
  • Advising a contractor concerning subsidence damage to a large power station in Venezuela.
  • Acting in breach of warranty claim arising from a large company takeover.
  • Advising in relation to nuclear waste disposal.
  • Acting for an electrical contractor in a major asbestos pollution claim concerning a well known secondary school.
  • Acting for a major light railway company in its claim against the contractor concerning the late refurbishment of  rolling stock which affected the servicing of a major extension to the light railway line.
  • Acting for London Underground in litigation over the construction of a development agreement in relation to the engineering work in the redevelopment and refurbishment of a major central London station.
  • Advising in respect of the liabilities of insurers arising out of the Ladbroke Grove rail disaster.
  • Advice concerning a breach of a contract between a major car dealership and the UK distributor.
  • Advising in relation to the Chancery Lane derailment.
  • Advising in relation to the Gerrards Cross tunnel collapse.
  • Acting in an arbitration concerned with the decommissioning of a major nuclear power station.
  • Advocate for parties in mediations as well as acting as mediator or assistant mediator.
  • Ad hoc arbitrator.

He advises and acts in many cases relating to bonds and guarantees, particularly in cases concerning bondsmen and questions arising over their liabilities under their bonds and their rights under the cross guarantees.

He has given expert evidence on English law to a federal court in Texas.

Recent international arbitrations have involved a dispute between parties from the US and the UAE over the construction of a pipeline and a multi party arbitration between American stockists and wholesalers of self adhesive film for the graphic sign making industries, their guarantors and Belgian manufacturers concerning an agency and sale agreement and associated guarantees.

Richard appeared as Leading Counsel for Eagle Star against John Mowlem Construction in the Carlton Gate litigation, which involved allegations of conspiracy; the resulting six month long trial was the first major paperless civil trial in the UK.


Richard is recommended as a Leading Silk for Construction, Professional Negligence and Energy & Natural Resources by Chambers UK, and as a Leading Construction and International Arbitration Silk by the Legal 500.

“Incredibly tough, unequivocal in his advice and excellent with clients.” “An inventive advocate.” Chambers & Partners 2017
“He provides well-thought-out, sensible reasoning, with huge attention to detail.” “He is always someone the tribunal listens to, even when the points are difficult.” Chambers & Partners 2016
“Highly recommended by solicitors.” Legal 500 2015
“Robust and reassuring in his advice.” Legal 500 2015
“Clients love the clarity of his strategy and advocacy.” Legal 500 2015
“A very effective cross-examiner.” Legal 500 2015
“He has great intellectual capacity, good insight and fine judgement.” Chambers UK 2015
“He’s commercial, pragmatic and solution-driven.” Chambers UK 2015
“Recommended for construction and engineering related disputes.”
Legal 500 2014
“A superb advocate with highly reliable judgement” Legal 500 2014
“Commercially aware, intensely knowledgeable and fierce in cross examination.” Legal 500 2014
“An excellent advocate, he is very client-friendly and his legal advice is direct and focused.” “He’s authoritative and robust in his advice.” Chambers UK 2014
“An excellent advocate, he is very client-friendly and his legal advice is direct and focused.” “He has a commanding intellect, great insight and good judgement.” Chambers UK 2014
“a genuine heavyweight who is robust and authoritative with his advice” Legal 500 2013
“He has great intellectual capacity, good insight and fine judgement.” “He’s commercial, pragmatic and solution-driven.” Chambers UK 2014
“‘a superb advocate’ who ‘moves instinctively to the right answer’. Instructing solicitors are impressed by his ‘excellent grasp of difficult and complex cases and his particular gift for making the very complicated sound easy'” Chambers UK 2013
“extremely affable and incredibly bright”
Chambers UK 2013
“Meets with universal praise…is never daunted by a case whatever its size or complexity” Chambers UK 2013
“Authoritative and charismatic when speaking and has amazing gravitas” Chambers UK 2012
Staggering intellect” Chambers UK 2012
“has great insight thanks to his vast experience,” Chambers & Partners 2010
‘”affable yet sharp advocacy style” makes him an enjoyable performer to watch in court.’ Chambers & Partners 2010
“safe pair of hands who is totally unflappable.”  Chambers & Partners 2010
infectiously enthusiastic and hugely dedicated to his work”  Chambers & Partners 2009
A sound strategist” Chambers & Partners 2009
frighteningly clever” Chambers & Partners 2009
Always brings something new to the table, “whether that be a novel way of looking at the facts or an interesting strategy” Chambers & Partners 2009
Articulate and great with clients” Chambers & Partners 2009
an amazing sense of humour as well as brilliant legal skills” Chambers & Partners 2009
judgement, user-friendliness and straightforward advice” Chambers & Partners 2009
Good lateral and strategic thinker” Legal 500 2009
“a stunningly bright man with the finest strategy skills” Chambers & Partners 2006
“giving clear, unambiguous advice” Chambers & Partners 2006
“ability to get on the right side of the judge” Chambers & Partners 2006
“good on his feet and good with judges” Legal 500 2006

Related Cases


Makers UK Ltd v Camden [2009] All ER (D) 301; 124 Con LR 32

Resisting the imposition of conditions which would restrict a party from having recourse to adjudication.

Persimmon Homes (South Coast) LTD v (1) Hall Aggregates (South Coast) LTD (2) Cemex UK Properties LTD [2008] EWHC 2379 (TCC)

A property developer was entitled to recover certain costs and damages arising from the need for the performance of certain remedial works on a development site.

Richardson Roofing Co Ltd v Ballast Plc & Compco Holdings Plc & The Colman Partnership (QBD) [2008] EWHC 1806 (TCC)

When making a detailed assessment of costs, the costs judge should decide whether costs incurred in preparing for and attending a hearing that subsequently had been adjourned were recoverable.

Landfast (Anglia) Limited v Cameron Taylor One Limited [2008] EWHC 343 (TCC)

Trustees of Tate Gallery v Duffy Contractors Plc & anor (QBD) 15 February 2007 [2007] EWHC 361 (TCC); [2007] All ER (D) 197 (Feb)

Preliminary issues in an insurance/construction case about the flooding of the basement of the Tate Gallery.

Harvey Shopfitters Ltd v ADI Ltd (CA) [2004] 2 All ER 982

London Underground Limited v Pillar Broadway Limited (TCC) [2003] EWHC 28 TCC(2003) 87 Con LR 205

Masons (A Firm) v WD King Ltd & Anor, Court of Appeal – Technology and Construction Court [2003] EWHC 3124 (TCC)

Alfred McAlpine Construction Limited v Forum Architects & others (TCC) [2002] CILL 1880

Lord Norman Foster and Foster and Partners v Associated Newspapers [2002] EWHC 1885 (QB)

Nordic Holdings Ltd v Mott Macdonald Ltd [2001] EWHC 455 (TCC)

Trafalgar House Construction (Regions) Ltd v General Surety & Guarantee Co Ltd (HL) [1996] AC 199


Heathrow Airport LTD Thames Utilities Ltd [2009] EWCA Civ 992

Tramtrack Croydon Ltd v London Bus Services Ltd (QBD) 31 January 2007 [2007] EWHC 107 (Comm)

This case determined the levels of compensation to be paid to Tramtrack Croydon for carrying passengers who use bus passes and other concessionary cards on the system.

London Bus Services Ltd v Tramtrack Croydon Ltd (QBD) 19 December 2006 [2006] EWCA Civ 1743

This case concerned the long-term PFI project for the construction and operation of the Croydon Light Rail system.

Bermuda Trust (Guernsey) Ltd v Brackman Chopra and others (QBD) 29 July 2004 [2004] EWHC 1864 (QB)

Thames Trains v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd [2004]

Smith (Administrator of Coslett (Contracts) Ltd) v Bridgend County BC (HL) [2002] AC 336

Great Scottish & Western Railway Co Ltd v British Railways Board (CA)

Deepak Fertilizers and Petrochemicals Ltd v Davy McKee (London) Ltd [1999] 1 All ER 69 (CA)

Odebrecht Oil & Gas Services Ltd v North Sea Production Co Ltd

Scottish Power v Britoil Exploration (CA) TLR 2/12/1997

Professional Negligence

Charles Church Developments Ltd v Stent Foundations Ltd [2006] EWHC 3158 (TCC)

Charles Church Developments Ltd v Stent Foundations Ltd [2006] EWHC 3158 (TCC)

Bonds and Guarantees

AES-3C Maritza East 1 EOOD v Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank and another [2011] CILL 2985, [2011] EWHC 123 (TCC), [2011] BLR 249

Perar BV v General Surety & Guarantee Co (CA) 43 Con LR 110

Administrative & Public Law

Cowl v Plymouth City Council (CA) (2002) 1 WLR 803; (2002) ACD 74

Alternative dispute resolution in judicial review and community care cases.

Construction & Engineering

Lanes Group Plc v Galliford Try Infrastructure Ltd [2011] EWHC 1696 (TCC) 137 Con LR 1 also Court of Appeal [2011] EWCA Civ 1617

Adjudication enforcement: the consequences of a refusal to serve a notice of referral.

Linklaters Business Services v (1) Sir Robert Mcalpine Ltd (2) Sir Robert Mcalpine (Holdings) Ltd (3) How Engineering Services Ltd (4) How Group Ltd (5) Southern Insulation (Medway) Ltd [2010] EWHC 2931 (TCC)

Southern Insulation (Medway) Ltd v How Engineering Services Ltd & How Group Ltd [2010] EWCA Civ 999; [2010] ALL ER 99 (Aug)

Linklaters Business Services v (1) Sir Robert Mcalpine Ltd (2) Sir Robert Mcalpine (Holdings) Ltd (3) How Engineering Services Ltd (4) How Group Ltd (5) Southern Insulation (Medway) Ltd [2010] BLR 537, [2010] 130 Con LR 111 , [2010] NPC 61

How Engineering Services Ltd V Southern Insulation (Medway) Ltd [2010] EWHC 1878 (TCC), [2010] BLR 537

A breach of warranty claim arising out of the fit-out of Linklaters’ London offices. The claim raised important and controversial issues relating to duties of care, the complex structure theory and limitation. Karim was instructed as junior counsel in the 4-week TCC trial and also in the related summary judgment applications and proceedings in the Court of Appeal.

Southfield School for Girls v Briggs & Forrester Electrical [2007] EWHC 3403 (TCC)

A six-week TCC trial dealing with issues of defective design and workmanship, architect’s negligence and the concept of a “reasonable settlement”. Karim was instructed as junior counsel for the main contractor.

Call +44 (0)20 7832 1111 for more information

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