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Richard Wilmot-Smith KC

"One of the great doyens of construction."
Legal 500 2021

“Tough, unequivocal in his advice and excellent with clients.” “An absolute star.”
Chambers & Partners 2021

Richard is a specialist in all aspects of construction and engineering litigation and arbitration and has over forty years' experience in that field, thirty of them at the highest level. He has been in silk since 1994 and sits as an arbitrator and adjudicator worldwide in high value cases. He is Editor of Wilmot-Smith on Construction Contracts Fourth Edition OUP 2021.

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 arbitration 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 airports, 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 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 London's 'Cheesegrater' building.

Richard 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.  Seat: Dubai.  DIAC rules.

As a panel member his party nominated appointments include:

  • Multi-billion US dollar dispute concerning a hospital complex in Qatar.  Seat: London.  ICC rules.
  • Disputes concerning an oil and gas treatment facility in Kuwait.  Seat: London.  LCIA rules.
  • Disputes regarding a racecourse, hotel and sporting complex in Dubai.  Seat: Dubai.  DIAC arbitration.
  • Dispute regarding a guarantee given under a construction contract in Qatar.  Parties: Qatari and Spanish.  Seat: London.  ICC rules.
  • Dispute regarding the redevelopment of 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.  Seat:  New York.  ICC rules.
  • 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.



“One of the great doyens of construction.” – The Legal 500 (2021)
“He delivers first-class advice on complex legal issues and strategy.” – The Legal 500 (2021)
“Always going to be one of the small circle of silks that we will consider on our most important cases.” – The Legal 500 (2021)
“Extremely able and experienced in his field, as well as very hardworking and reliable.” – The Legal 500 (2021)
“Always one of our first choices for serious, heavyweight construction matters.” “Super-clever and very strategic. He has got a very good bedside manner with clients.” – Chambers and Partners (2018)
"Calmly persuasive in court, he delivers excellent results and is an obvious choice for bet-the-company disputes." – The Legal 500 (2017)