Karen Gough

Year of call:

+44 (0)20 7832 1111

“Immensely hard-working, is tireless, resourceful, well-prepared at all times and a delight to work with.”
The Legal 500, Leading Juniors, Tier 2, International Arbitration: Counsel 2021

‘”Karen is tenacious, accomplished, thorough and constructively fierce when required. One of the best barristers we have worked with.”
The Legal 500, Leading Juniors, Tier 3, Construction

“The sort of advocate that most clients dream of instructing.”
The Legal 500

Karen Gough practises internationally as counsel, attorney-at-law, arbitrator, adjudicator and ADR neutral. She has specialised, for more than 30 years, in complex construction, engineering, professional negligence and general commercial disputes whether resolved by litigation, arbitration or ADR. She represents a wide range of clients including governments, government agencies, local authorities, educational institutions, contractors, sub-contractors, and major commercial organisations. Her construction practice includes disputes concerning private domestic and commercial industrial and retail developments, major public works and infrastructure projects including water, sewage, energy and power plants, nuclear facilities, hospitals, prisons, schools, roads, rail, and sea defences.  She has dealt with all manner of disputes under many SFCs including JCT, NEC and FIDIC, including claims for payment, extensions of time, delay and disruption, termination disputes and other specialist disputes involving complex M&E and building management systems, ground conditions, cladding and roofing projects.

She has undertaken a number of high profile commercial disputes including Azevedo and Alvarez v Imcopa Importacao, Exportacao E Industria De Oleus Ltda and Others, concerning the legality of consent payments in corporate debt restructuring proposals; a number of disputes arising from share purchase agreements; a substantial and long-running banking dispute arising out of an international commodities transaction in Jamaica; and a number of other complex disputes involving financing and guarantees for major commercial developments. In 2015 she appeared in the Privy Council case of National Housing Trust v Y P Seaton & Associates Company Limited a case about the power of an arbitrator to award compound interest under a commercial agreement governed by Jamaican law. Karen also acts for clients in insolvency/insolvency related disputes.  She is the immediate past chairman of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Insolvency Licensing Committee, being the first lay chairman of this important RPB for the regulation of insolvency practitioners in the UK, and in 2017 was elected as a Council Member of the UK Society of Construction Law.

Karen has a strong commercial practice in the Caribbean. In April 2016 she completed a course at the Norman Manley Law School at UWI in Jamaica and was awarded a Legal Education Certificate giving her an entitlement to be admitted to practise across the wider Caribbean. In July 2016, Karen was admitted to practise as an Attorney-at-Law in the Courts of Jamaica and in November 2016, in Trinidad and Tobago.

She has more than 30 years’ experience of domestic and international commercial arbitration, both as counsel and as arbitrator. She is a recognised expert on disputes arising out of projects governed by the FIDIC forms of contract and acts as an expert “Friendly Reviewer” for FIDIC. In 2017 she was also appointed to, and is a member of, the KLRCA (now AIAC) panel of experts advising on the KLRCA new standard forms of building contract launched in August 2017 and the Advisory Board of the Jamaica International Arbitration Centre. Karen is a past President of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators; a Chartered Arbitrator; a Certified International ADR Practitioner of the Asian Institute of ADR, and an accredited TECBAR adjudicator.

She is described in Chambers UK as being “Just the person you want if the battle is going to be hot” in construction claims, and having “immense arbitral experience”, and by Legal 500 as “outstanding in her detailed and analytical grasp of her field and fearless in her protection of the client”.

Karen was shortlisted for The Legal 500 UK Awards ‘International Arbitration Junior of the Year’ in both 2018 and 2020 and ‘Construction Junior of the Year’ in 2019.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Demonstrated expert knowledge and rapidly and incisively mastered the voluminous and intricate documentation.”  The Legal 500 2020

A prominent arbitration barrister, who is great at handling clients.” The Legal 500

Karen was President of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators from 2001-2002. She is a Chartered Arbitrator and is recognised for her vast experience of both domestic and international arbitration law and practice, acting as counsel or as arbitrator (the latter since 1991) in both construction and commercial disputes. She has practiced in the field of international commercial arbitration (since 1987), and holds a Diploma in International Commercial Arbitration. She has worked under and/or gained knowledge of the workings of all the principal domestic and international arbitration and ADR rules. She and has long experience both of common law and civil law procedures.


“Superb rapport with clients and tremendously knowledgeable.” The Legal 500 2020

“Very experienced and very approachable.” Chambers & Partners

She has a no-nonsense approach, good tactical nous and gravitas to her name.”
The Legal 500

In her construction and engineering practice Karen has litigated or arbitrated disputes over a period of more than 30 years under most of the recognised standard forms of building and engineering contract and she has a particular expertise in the arbitration of disputes under the FIDIC forms of construction and engineering contract.

Her practice has included many disputes about interim and final payments, loss and expense and claims for extensions of time.

Karen is an accredited TECBAR adjudicator and a CEDR “super adjudicator” and has undertaken many adjudications both as counsel and adjudicator.  She is currently a serving Council Member of the Society for Construction Law, and a Vice Chairman of the IPBA International Construction Projects Committee.


Karen has undertaken many high value and high profile commercial disputes both in the UK and abroad, and successfully conducted claims/defences in a range of general commercial matters involving debt restructuring, share purchase agreements, project finance, banking and insolvency claims. Karen also has particular experience dealing with claims arising from and relating to the recognition and enforcement of international arbitration awards in different jurisdictions.

Civil Liability

She has a no-nonsense approach.” The Legal 500 2017

In her professional liability practice she has advised and/or prosecuted and defended architects, engineers, surveyors, quantity surveyors, construction management professionals, accountants and solicitors. In addition, Karen has extensive experience of advising arbitrators and parties concerning matters of conduct and procedure in commercial arbitrations (she appeared recently in the case of Cofely Limited v Bingham and Knowles [2016]), and represents barristers, solicitors and construction professionals on professional conduct charges before regulatory tribunals.


Chambers & Partners
International Commercial Arbitration – Construction/Engineering

Legal 500 
International Arbitration

Chambers & Partners Global


‘Superb rapport with clients and tremendously knowledgeable’ Legal 500 2020

‘Demonstrated expert knowledge and rapidly and incisively mastered the voluminous and intricate documentation’ Legal 500 2020

‘She has a no-nonsense approach, good tactical nous and gravitas to her name’ Legal 500 2017

‘A prominent arbitration barrister, who is great at handling clients’ Legal 500 2017

‘She has a no-nonsense approach’ Legal 500 2017

“Very approachable and easy to get on with” Legal 500 2017

“Very experienced” Legal 500 2017

“The kind of advocate that most clients dream of instructing” Legal 500 2016

“She gives clear, concise advice, is extremely easy to deal with and has tremendous rapport with clients.” “She is good at changing the format of something with a long view.” Chambers & Partners 2016

“She provides all-round excellence through her super technical knowledge and practical approach.” Legal 500 2015

“She has superb technical knowledge, and is excellent all-round” Legal 500 2015

“Has a wealth of experience in the construction law arena, both domestically and abroad.  Offers first-rate advice and puts an emphasis on practicality.” “She’s superb with clients, achieving real understanding and empathy.” Chambers & Partners Global 2015

“Has considerable expertise in construction-related contractual disputes… Very experienced and very approachable.” Chambers & Partners 2015.

“Just the person you want if the battle is going to be hot.” Legal 500 2014

“Superb skills in a variety of areas and the first port of call on complex arbitration issues.”  Legal 500 2014

“Offers first-rate advice and puts an emphasis on practicality.” “She’s superb with clients, achieving real understanding and empathy.” Chambers & Partners 2015

“Always impressive.” “She is utterly indefatigable.” “Offers first-rate advice and puts an emphasis on practicality.” “She’s superb with clients and achieves real understanding and empathy with clients.” Chambers & Partners 2014

Instructing solicitors are full of praise… recalling that she “instantly earned the respect of the building trade professionals who formed our interdisciplinary team.” She is “always meticulously prepared and is never caught off-guard by either counsel or arbitrator,” sources say, while others are impressed by her “immense arbitral experience.” Chambers and Partners 2013

Construction expert Karen Gough spends much of her time acting as counsel in arbitrations and has extensive experience of a range of institutional proceedings… offers particular expertise in disputes arising from the Caribbean. Sources point to her “formidable arsenal of legal knowledge” and her “excellent advocacy skills.” Chambers & Partners 2013

Who displays ‘great knowledge and leadership’ Legal 500 2012

Is ‘outstanding in her detailed and analytical grasp of her field and fearless in her protection of the client’ Legal 500 2012

Related Cases

Construction & Engineering

PBS Energo a.s. v Bester Generacion UK Limited [2018]
Advising and representing PBS Energo in adjudication proceedings [as the successful respondent] and related adjudication enforcement proceedings [as the successful claimant]. Also representing PBS in the trial of the action before the TCC, claims arising from termination of the contract, including disputes about delays and payments.

Advising and representing an Airports Authority in the Caribbean in claims arising from an airport refurbishment contract [2015 – 2015] – on-going.

Arbitration – advising employers on disputes arising from a substantial commercial development in Ghana.

NHT v Y P Seaton & Company Associates Limited [2014-16]
Advising Jamaican company in connection with disputes arising from terminated development agreement including extension of time and final account claims under a construction contract.

Y P Seaton & Associates v Housing Association of Jamaica [2014]
Advising Jamaican company in connection with claims on final account agreements and summary judgment application.  Claims for time and money.

Advising UK Health Trust on potential claims arising in connection with alleged breaches of PFI agreement.

Advising as a consultant to Trinidad and Tobago Attorneys on disputes arising in connection with a public procurement process between a government agency and substantial international developer.

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.

Lanes Group Plc v Galliford Try Infrastructure Ltd (2012)
Arbitration of construction dispute for additional payment and extensions of time.

Pilon Ltd v Breyer Group Plc 23 April 2010 [2010] EWHC 837 (TCC)
Adjudication enforcement – The court set out the law in relation to the enforceability of an adjudicator’s decision where he had taken an erroneously restrictive view of his jurisdiction, with the result that he decided not to consider an important element of the dispute referred to him.

(See also under Arbitration, Adjudication and ADR below).


LCIA Arbitration between Central European and Russian parties involving disputes arising from a major share purchase agreement.

LCIA Arbitration between BVI and Cayman Islands registered companies involving a commercial contract dispute and claims amounting to more than USD120 million.

RBTT Bank Jamaica Limited by Y P Seaton and Ors [2014]  JMSC Civ 34
Acting as international legal consultant to Jamaican group of companies in long-running litigation concerning funds seized from bank accounts of customers by predecessors to the Claimant bank in the early 1990s,  Currently advising on appeal proceedings.  Whether bank entitled to take money from account of customer – Allegation of overpayment – Quistclose trust – Mistaken payments – Money had and received – Abuse of process.

Ibid.  [2014] JMSC Civ. 139
Acting as international legal consultant on related and parasitic claims forspecific disclosure, compound interest, costs on the indemnity basis, interim payment on account of costs and interest on costs.

Jamaica Mortgage Bank Limited v Ebony View Limited and Ors [2014]
Advising Jamaican clients on proceedings commenced by the Bank concerning loan agreements and guarantees.

Addestone Properties & anr v Gohil [2014]
Proceedings for freezing injunction and claims arising from commercial loan agreement.

Azevedo and Alvarez v Imcopa Importacao, Exportacao E Industria De Oleus Ltda and Others [2012] EWHC 1849 (Comm) & CoA.
The legality of consent payments in corporate debt restructuring proposals.

Frontera Eastern Georgia Limited v Arar Inc and Ors [2013] Comm Ct
Commercial Arbitration, resisting enforcement of international arbitration award.

Ali Marzook Ali Bin Kamil Al Shamshi & Ors v Terna Bahrain Holding Company Wll [2012] Comm Ct
Resisting enforcement and anti-suit proceedings and challenging international arbitration award involving disputes arising from a substantial share purchase agreement.

Arbitration, Adjudication and ADR

LCIA arbitration, LCIA court appointed arbitrator, in a dispute arising from a share purchase agreement between a Cayman Islands claimant and a Cayman Islands based foreign company.

LCIA arbitration seated in Jordan, acting as party appointed arbitrator in a dispute between Indian and Iraqi parties concerning a power facility. 2019.  Ongoing.

Numerous adjudications under HGCRA and SFC adjudication rules including JCT and NEC.

Counsel in arbitration 

Acting for Trinidadian government agency in case remitted by the Privy Council [2015 – ongoing]

Acting for Trinidadian state entity in major commercial construction arbitration, including related court proceedings [ongoing].

Cofely Ltd v Bingham and Knowles [2016] Application to the Commercial Court to remove an arbitrator on the grounds of apparent bias, significance of the IBA guidelines on conflicts.

The National Housing Trust v Y P Seaton & Associates Company Limited [2015] UKPC 43
Acting as lead counsel in an appeal to the Privy Council from the Jamaica Court of Appeal The appeal concerned a dispute about the jurisdiction of an arbitrator to award compound interest on an award which had been upheld by the Jamaican Court of Appeal.

Party nominated arbitrator (2014)
Appointed to resolve disputes arising from a substantial construction project in Dubai under the FIDIC 1999 conditions of contract for construction and DIAC arbitration rules.

Adjudicator of disputes arising from major construction contract (2013-2014)
Acting as adjudicator appointed by TECBAR in 3 related construction adjudications.

Counsel in substantial private adjudication proceedings (2013)
Acting as counsel for major UK company in proceedings brought by local authority concerning alleged breaches of a waste management contract.

Lanes Group Plc v Galliford Try Infrastructure Ltd (2011-2012)
See above under “construction” acting as counsel in arbitration and adjudication proceedings arising from the termination of a construction contract.

Lead Counsel in an International Arbitration
Between a government agency in Trinidad and Tobago and contractor in US30m dispute concerning a major hospital construction project (2007-2011)

Acting as counsel in an International Arbitration between major Irish/Spanish JV and Employer
Concerning a major motorway upgrading scheme in the Republic of Ireland, value of some €200 million.

2009/10 Acting as an arbitrator appointed by the Government of Botswana
In a dispute between the Government and a major contractor concerning a major infrastructure project in Botswana.

2006-2008 Acting for a member of a substantial group of companies based in Turkey
Engaged in the provision of power generating facilities in Turkey in (a) a dispute with a major international construction company over an EPM contract under ICC Rules; and b) in a dispute with an Italian company in connection with a contract for the design, supply and installation of plant and equipment under CPR Rules for Non-Administered International Arbitrations 2005.

Professional Negligence

McGowan v Sense of Space Limited and Anr [2014]
Claim for professional negligence and breach of contract brought against architects and contractors.

Gibson v L M Associates Limited [2012]
Substantial claim for damages against a firm of architects.

Co-operative Group Limited v John Allen Associates and Ors [2010] EWHC 2300 TCC, and Court of Appeal (2011)
Engineers design duties and ability to rely on advice from specialist sub-contractors in discharge of those responsibilities.

Charles Church Developments Ltd v Stent Foundations Ltd & Anor (2006)/(2007) [2006] EWHC 3158 (TCC)
Engineers negligence; limitation, failure of Claimants to comply with pre-action protocol for construction and engineering disputes.

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