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

“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

Karen Gough practises internationally as counsel, attorney-at-law, arbitrator, adjudicator and ADR neutral. She has specialised, for more than 35 years, in complex construction, engineering, professional negligence and general commercial disputes whether resolved by litigation, arbitration, adjudication or other forms of ADR. 

Karen has appeared before the Courts of England and Wales at all levels including the Privy Council.   She is dual qualified as a practising attorney in the Caribbean, a Chartered Arbitrator, a Certified International ADR Practitioner (FAiADR).  She is widely recognised as an expert in the resolution of disputes under the FIDIC and NEC forms of contract and acted as a friendly reviewer of the FIDIC 2017 SFCs and is a member of the working group to produce FIDIC Practice Note(s) as part of FIDIC’S Dispute Avoidance and Adjudication Forum.   

Karen has a strong arbitration practice as counsel and as arbitrator (since 1990) and has conducted as counsel or been appointed as sole, co-arbitrator or chairman/presiding arbitrator in cases conducted under many different institutional rules including LCIA, ICC, SIAC, DIAC and the PCA in the Hague.  She also acts as adjudicator/dispute board/conflict avoidance panel member.

Karen 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 under bespoke contracts and many SFCs including JCT, NEC and FIDIC, concerning private domestic and commercial industrial and retail developments, major public works and infrastructure projects including energy facilities, involving 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.  Her professional liability and regulation practice concerns claims and disciplinary proceedings against construction professionals.  She also acts for clients in insolvency/insolvency related disputes and is a past chairman of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Insolvency Licensing Committee.

Karen is a past global President of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. She is an expert advisor on construction, ADR and arbitration matters to the AIAC (Malaysia), IWHAAM (Bahamas), and JAIAC (Jamaica), a member of the International Statutory Adjudication Forum of Experts (“ISAF”), a member of the ICC UK Arbitration& ADR Committee, a Co-Chair of the ICPC of the IPBA, the Vice Chairman of the SCL UK, and a teaching fellow at the College of Law in Australia.  She is also frequently invited to speak at international conferences and on construction and arbitration/ADR matters and regularly contributes articles to publications on these subjects.

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.

Areas of expertise


"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 arbitration proceedings and has been appointed many times as arbitrator in both domestic and international arbitrations, acting as sole and co-arbitrator and chair of the tribunal.


"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 35 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 and NEC forms of construction and engineering contract.

Her practice has included an enormous range of cases, in many countries concerning all aspects of contractual disputes covering all the principal types of conflict, particularly design and engineering issues, rights on termination, interim and final payment claims, 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 the Vice Chair of the Society of Construction Law UK, and a Co-Chairman of the IPBA International Construction Projects Committee. She is also the Chair of the drafting committee and principal drafter of the ISAF draft Model Law on Statutory Adjudication for Construction Disputes.


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.

Professional Liability

"She has a no-nonsense approach." The Legal 500

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 in the case of Cofely Limited v Bingham and Knowles [2016], and later related proceedings), represents barristers, solicitors and construction professionals on professional conduct charges before professional regulatory tribunals.


  • "Superb rapport with clients and tremendously knowledgeable’" The Legal 500 
  • "Demonstrated expert knowledge and rapidly and incisively mastered the voluminous and intricate documentation’" The Legal 500 
  • "She has a no-nonsense approach, good tactical nous and gravitas to her name’" The Legal 500 
  • "A prominent arbitration barrister, who is great at handling clients’" The Legal 500
  • "She has a no-nonsense approach" The Legal 500
  • “Very approachable and easy to get on with” The Legal 500
  • “Very experienced” The Legal 500