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Nicholas Higgs

Nicholas is a dual-qualified barrister and chartered civil engineer having come to the Bar from a previous career with Ove Arup & Partners. He has a busy practice in construction and engineering disputes and international commercial arbitration. Nicholas acts as both junior and sole counsel in disputes in the Technology and Construction Court (TCC), in domestic adjudication and in international arbitrations. He also undertakes instructions as tribunal secretary and in providing advice on construction contracts, in particular the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC), and alternative dispute resolution such as mediation.

Prior to coming to the Bar, Nicholas had a varied career at Arup ranging from bridge engineering to secretary to the firm’s management board, reporting to the group chief operating officer. He has considerable experience in procurement and project and commercial management having been UK infrastructure commercial manager and having led the procurement of several contracts for the Queensferry Crossing in Scotland and of the Garden Bridge in London. Nicolas brings his client-side insight, commercial pragmatism and sector expertise to his work at the Bar. 

Areas of expertise


Nicholas is instructed by employers, contractors and consultants in the construction and engineering sectors on disputes ranging from payment claims to multi-million-pound defects cases, including adjudications. His practice incorporates High Court work, including cases in the TCC, as both sole counsel and as junior counsel, as well as appearances in the lower courts. He is also developing a wider commercial practice and has a particular interest in international arbitration. His experience includes:

  • A number of very large cases related to construction defects in private finance initiative (PFI) hospitals, in both adjudication and litigation, including The Lawyers’ top 20 cases for 2022.
  • A multi-million pound final account adjudication.
  • Retained by CERN to provide contract drafting and dispute resolution advice in respect of the building and infrastructure works at the CERN site in Switzerland and France, in particular in relation to FIDIC-based contracts.
  • Instructed as sole counsel in a five-day TCC trial regarding defective piling.
  • Successful possession proceedings and claim for rental arrears.
  • Advice regarding perjury in international commercial arbitration.
  • Litigation concerning unlawful hacking of mobile telephones.
  • An arbitration regarding a waste treatment plant in East Asia.


While at Arup, in his role as commercial manager for the UK Infrastructure Practice, Nicholas was involved in the resolution of a number of disputes and the negotiation of commercial agreements including:

  • A Court of Appeal case concerning design liability for asbestos and the effectiveness of exclusion clauses.
  • A delay and disruption claim on a tunnelling contract in Scandinavia.
  • Pre-arbitration negotiations on a multi-million pound fee claim with counter-claims for delay and disruption.
  • Leading the negotiation of consultancy contracts on behalf of a three-way joint venture with a joint-venture contractor for complex concept and engineering design of a high-speed railway.
  • Management of procurement of the design-build contractor for the Garden Bridge, including negotiations for termination following cancellation of the project.
  • Leading the commercial management and close-out of £40m and £12m contracts on the Queensferry Crossing project.

International Arbitration

Nicholas has a growing practice in international arbitration where he has been instructed as counsel and as tribunal secretary.

  • Junior counsel for an ICC arbitration for a water treatment plant in the Middle East.
  • Tribunal secretary on an LCIA arbitration concerning claims on the construction of an offshore gas delivery platform.