Richard Wilmot-Smith QC

Year of call:

+44 (0)20 7832 1111

Excellent, particularly in his imaginative strategies and meticulous cross-examination.’
Legal 500 2017

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.

He is associated with innovation in court procedure, such as the University of Manchester case  (1984) 2 Con LR 43, where he persuaded the TCC court to pioneer the first trial using witness statements as evidence in chief and in 1995 appearing as Leading Counsel for Eagle Star in the six month long Carlton Gate case which was the first major paperless civil trial in the UK.

His past involvement in arbitration and litigation encompasses many iconic structures in the UK, and abroad such as the Tan-Zam highway, Dubai Creek, the GMEX complex, Lloyd’s of London and the second Dartford Tunnel. Recent matters in which he has been involved include the Cheesegrater.

Commenced acting as arbitrator in 1989 in a large domestic construction dispute between a major national contractor and its steelwork sub-contractor. He lectures on international arbitration and construction law extensively; most recently in New Zealand (NZ SCL)  Hong Kong (HK SCL), Delhi (ICC) and London (SCL).

He is a frequent keynote speaker at commercially sponsored conferences most recently in such arbitral centres as Abu Dhabi, Dubai Singapore and Seoul. He is author and editor of ‘Wilmot-Smith on Construction Contracts’ (OUP Third Edition)

He has acted as sole arbitrator, party nominated arbitrator and chairman of arbitration panels under LCIA, DIAC and ICC Rules.

His appointments as sole arbitrator or chairman of the tribunal include

  • Sole arbitrator pursuant to ICC nomination in franchise dispute . ICC rules; London seat. Parties Turkish and South African.
  • President of arbitration panel regarding oil facilities roads and warehousing in Iraq. Seat Paris; ICC rules.
  • Sole arbitrator pursuant to ICC nomination in a dispute concerning alleged delay and defects to 323 residential units in Bahrain, seat Bahrain. ICC rules.
  • Chairman of arbitration panel regarding ancillary oil facilities in Iraq. Seat Dubai; DIAC rules
  • Chairman of arbitration panel regarding a dispute relating to delay and defects in an estate comprising over 300 villas in Dubai. DIAC rules, seat Dubai

As a panel member his party nominated appointments include

  • Multi billion US dollar dispute concerning a hospital complex in Qatar; seat London under ICC rules.
  • Disputes concerning an oil and gas treatment facility in Kuwait. LCIA rules. London seat.
  • Disputes regarding a racecourse, hotel and sporting complex in Dubai. DIAC arbitration; seat Dubai.
  • Dispute regarding a guarantee given under a construction contract in Qatar; parties Qatari and Spanish; seat London; ICC rules.
  • Dispute regarding the redevelopment if a hotel complex in Abu Dhabi; seat Dubai DIAC Rules.
  • Dispute about Heavy Naptha Hydrotreater and Continuous Catalytic Regeneration Platformer Unit and associated works off-shore and onshore in Trinidad. ICC rules; New York seat.
  • Dispute concerning delays and variations regarding an EPC contract for the procurement of nineteen non-process buildings; seat UAE; ICC rules.
  • Dispute concerning EPIC contract for a Block 4 Riser Platform and sub-sea pipelines in Turkmenistan; LCIA rules.

His experience in international arbitrations include power stations, hospitals,  roads, oil platforms, undersea pipelines, naptha plants, docks and oil refineries as well as hotels, housing estates, tunnels and bridges.



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.

“Always one of our first choices for serious, heavyweight construction matters.” “Super clever, very strategic and has got a very good bedside manner with clients.” Chambers & Partners 2018
“Super-clever and very strategic. He has got a very good bedside manner with clients.” Chambers & Partners 2018
Calmly persuasive in court, he delivers excellent results and is an obvious choice for bet-the-company disputes.’ Legal 500 2017
Extremely adept at mastering highly complex technical information.’ Legal 500 2017
Excellent, particularly in his imaginative strategies and meticulous cross-examination.’ Legal 500 2017
He is calmly persuasive in court and delivers excellent results.’ Legal 500 2017
“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.

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