David Thomas QC has a heavy weight practice in construction, engineering, energy and international arbitration as well as related disputes concerning bonds and guarantees.
David is known for his forceful advocacy, incisive cross-examination skills, commercial awareness and the clarity and practicality of his advice. He has been consistently recommended as one of the leading practitioners in his fields by Chambers, Chambers Global and the Legal 500 and he is frequently instructed on high value disputes before international arbitral and other tribunals including the Dubai World Tribunal, as well as the English Courts.
A large part of his practice now arises from GCC countries and Asia. In the UK, he is a regular and notably successful Court of Appeal advocate and frequently appears before the Technology and Construction Court on high profile matters.
In addition, David sits as an arbitrator, adjudicator and mediator both in the UK and internationally.
He is the Editor of “Keating on NEC3” (First Edition 2012) a regular conference speaker and a columnist in the IBA journal “Construction Law International”.
Construction and Engineering
Very clever, straightforward and businesslike”… “cross-examination skills are second to none”… “A very modern silk”...“...“a personable and client-friendly approach”...“respected for his intellectual prowess”...few silks collect as much praise as David Thomas QC, largely due to the ease with which he handles clients”. "He is someone you can actually have a dialogue with; his isn't a tablet down from the mountainside approach." Thomas provides highly commercial advice and is "outstanding on PFI disputes."... “a charming yet forceful advocate”...“like an owl: he looks, considers, and then swoops down to tremendous effect”...“great technical understanding”... "recommended as a Leading Silk in Energy and Natural Resource"..."clear thinking and hard working," Thomas can put over complex cases with great facility...according to sources, David Thomas QC strikes a fine balance between being an "extremely good barrister and a very pleasant person"..."he specialises in PFI-related dispute work, including a high-profile McAlpine case, and involves himself in a range of rail and health adjudications... International arbitration is another string to his bow"..."the "impressive" David Thomas QC is "one of the best people to go to on projects disputes"..."he has recently acted on a case concerning the sinking of an oil rig"... “the doyen of the arbitration world”...“gets to the point quickly and makes an effort to be user-friendly”..."the business: he always reads the papers in intimate detail and brings home the bacon"... "his non-theatrical approach is very refreshing, and instils great confidence in the clients." "the leading authority on the NEC contract” “Very strong on leading developments in the law” “instructed in some of the largest cases to reach the Bar” "if one is seeking a really authoritative view on difficult points it is hard to better the advice he offers."
Energy and Professional Negligence
“Very user-friendly and proactive barrister”...“a great team player, happy to get stuck in with the rest”...“he gives clear commercial advice that is very easy to understand”..."an enormous capacity for detail but cuts through it nicely and delivers concise commercial advice"..."even though he's a silk he doesn't back away, pitching in and getting involved with the rest of the legal team"...“Incredibly easy to work with”...“a great all-round advocate.”
Chambers and Partners / Legal 500
Style of advocacy is good with arbitrators - reasonable when making forceful submissions." “A well-known figure in the construction arena”...“dedicates a significant portion of his time to complex international arbitrations”..."enormous capacity for detail, absorbing and understanding information quickly to give clear legal and strategic advice."
David Thomas has won two Court of Appeal cases in 2012, the first concerned with a contractual indemnities in the long running Rust v. PB litigation and the second in the performance bond case of Hackney Empire v. Aviva.
Other recent cases have been international arbitrations concerning a motorway interchange in a GCC country, a combined cycle facility and a major African highway; Dubai World Tribunal cases related to “The World” and “The Palm”. In the UK, PFI and PPP disputes in relation to roads, railways and hospitals; advisory work and in relation to the NEC 3 contract including in respect of the Olympic Park and other major infrastructure projects, adjudications in respect of NEC 3 disputes. Long term advisory work in relation to a landmark London development.
Also in the UK and internationally disputes related to mechanical electrical and process engineering; energy sector work including construction of power stations and CHPs, oil and gas including FPSOs and pipelines, open cast coal mining and coal handling equipment disputes as well as nuclear waste disposal; railway engineering and train building contracts; and other major infrastructure projects for public and private sector clients including reservoir, road, dam, airport and stadium construction.
David Thomas frequently deals with highly technical issues which have ranged from soil mechanics, to the behaviour of powders in hoppers, stresses in steel members, lead contamination of water, the properties of concrete and turbine performance. He has a formidable reputation for cross-examination of experts. He has also dealt with a number of cases concerning accountancy issues arising from mergers and acquisitions and insurance issues.
David Thomas has experience of all major standard form contracts including the FIDIC, JCT, ICE, NEC and ECC forms, GC/Works/1, CCC/Works/1, ICHEME, MF/1 and SAJ.
Construction and Engineering
- Appearing before the Dubai World Tribunal in relation to a claim by a Dubai World development company against a number of land owners.
- A Dubai World Tribunal Trial concerning a facilities management contract.
- Acting for the main contractor on Wembley Stadium.
- Acting for Greek contractors in relation to the construction of a major international airport.
- An ICC arbitration concerning a power plant in the Middle East.
- An ICC arbitration concerning a railway in Singapore.
- A SIAC arbitration concerning industrial equipment.
- Acting in an ICC arbitration regarding the construction of a factory in Siberia.
- An arbitration on a major road building project in the Middle East.
- An arbitration about remediation of a contaminated site including issues as to chemical analysis as well as measurement and valuation questions.
- Acting for M&E contractors in a Hospital PFI project dispute, in adjudication, TCC trial and in the Court of Appeal.
- Advisory work and adjudication on Schools PFI Projects.
- A TCC trial for a German multi-national supermarket chain in relation to its' obligations under a lease and agreement for a lease. Also engineering questions as to causes of subsidence.
- David Thomas is frequently instructed to advise on PFI and PPP contracts and has also carried out expert determinations in this field.
- Acting for assignees in a dispute about accrued rights.
- Acting for a local authority in respect of alleged defects at a sports centre.
- An adjudication and expert determination in relation to a major City of London office development.
- Advising architects and acting in an adjudication in a copyright licence dispute.
- Acting for UK clients on the ICC arbitration in relation to the redevelopment of the harbour side in Gibraltar.
- An arbitration about a collapsed waste tip involving technical soil mechanics issues.
- An arbitration about the construction of a reservoir, valuation issues under the ICE Conditions.
- A TCC trial for a train building company in a dispute as to quality with a train operating company. Issues as to the performance of metals.
- Acting for engineers in the Ladbroke Grove Rail Inquiry. Consideration of Risk/Benefit analysis.
- A TCC trial relating to the underperformance of a waste disposal plant. Issues as to the behaviour of powders in hoppers.
- A TCC trial concerning the accounting treatment of profits earned by engineers on long term projects.
- Advising on all related insurance points.
- A dispute related to the control equipment for an undersea gas supply pipeline.
- An arbitration as to an electricity pricing dispute.
- Acting for the manufacturers of coal handling equipment in an ICC arbitration against a mining company, involving factual and expert issues centred on the performance of conveyor belts.
- Acting in an ICC arbitration in relation to the construction of a Power Station in the Bahamas.
- An arbitration on a contractor’s delay and disruption claim arising from mechanical and electrical works at a nuclear facility.
- TCC litigation about the construction of a CHP plant
- Various disputes about the construction of FPSOs
- Advising and TCC litigation for contractors in valuation disputes arising under open cast coal mining contracts.
- An ICC arbitration concerning an LNG terminal.
- Advising in relation to offshore wind farm projects.
- An arbitration relating to a combined cycle power and water facility.
- Advising as to quality issues in pipelines and contractual issues as to a lengthy subsea gas pipeline.
- An arbitration for a local authority in a professional negligence claim against engineers in respect of the design of a new bridge. Technical issues as to the design of steel columns.
- An adjudication on a claim against engineering consultants on a road building project.
- A long running TCC matter for a specialist engineering company in a professional negligence claim against consulting engineers in respect of work carried out at the Sellafield facility.
- Advising on a claim in relation to geotechnical engineering.
- Advising on a claim relating to M & E engineering in an office development.
- Acting for contractors in a dispute about alleged under performance of technology at a computerised distribution centre.
David is a CEDR accredited mediator who has been appointed to act on construction related mediations and more general commercial disputes.
Examples of successful mediations
- A multi-party mediation in respect of conversion of a hospital to residential dwellings.
- Defects case in a new block of flats.
- International trade dispute regarding claims for unpaid freight and counterclaims for trading losses.
- Dispute between main and sub-contractor about defective shopping centre floor.
- Delay and disruption claim relating to construction of a power station. Counterclaim for defective work. Settlement achieved.
- Claim related to defective floor in a warehouse. Remedial costs and trading losses.
- Claim related to defective and late design in nuclear industry. Remedial costs and trading losses.
- Defects claim in conversion of a hospital to luxury flats.
- Delay and disruption claim and repudiation counterclaim relating to refurbishment of central London offices.
As Arbitrator and Adjudicator
David sits as an arbitrator and adjudicator. Examples of recent appointments; disputes concerning
- An NEC 3 dispute arising from an infrastructure project
- An electricity pricing dispute
- A Dubai property development
Selected Reported Cases
- Hackney Empire Ltd v Aviva Insurance UK Ltd
 BLR 728 TCC
- Rust Consulting Ltd v PB Ltd (decision of Edwards-Stuart J)
 EWHC 1622 (TCC);  PNLR 33;  All ER(D) 201 (Jun); in the Court of Appeal:  EWCA Civ 1070;  BLR 427; (2012) 144 Con LR 63
- Rust Consulting Ltd v PB Ltd (decision of Akenhead J)
 EWHC 3243 (TCC);  1 All ER (Comm) 951;  All ER(D) 271 (Dec); (2010) 135 Con LR 69; in the Court of Appeal, twice:  EWCA Civ 899; (2010) 137 Con LR 92;  1 All ER (Comm) 455 and  EWCA Civ 1070;  BLR 427; (2012) 144 Con LR 63
- Fitzpatrick Contractors Ltd v Tyco Fire and Integrated Solutions (UK) Ltd
 119 Con LR 155 TCC and  EWHC 1301 (TCC)
- Taylor Woodrow Construction v RMD Kwikform Ltd
 BLR 383 TCC,  2 Lloyd's Rep 345,  1 CLC 793,  1 All ER (Comm) 770, 118 Con LR 57,  EWHC 825 (TCC) and Bus LR 292
- Tyco Fire & Integrated Solutions (UK) Ltd v Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd
  1 CLC 625,  Lloyd's Rep IR 617,  EWCA Civ 286,  2 All ER (Comm) 584,  BLR 285, 118 Con LR 25 and  14 EG 100
- Aldi Stores Limited and WSP Group plc, WSP London Limited and Aspinwall & Company Limited
 EWCA Civ 1260,  BLR 113,  EWHC 55 (TCC), EWHC 55 LAWTEL TCC, BLM Vol. 25 No. 1 CA and 115 Con LR 49 CA
- Multiplex Constructions (UK) Ltd v Honeywell Control Systems
 BLR 195 TCC,  Bus LR D109,  CILL 2458,  EWHC 447 (TCC) and 111 Con LR 78
- Epping Electrical v Briggs & Forrester
 CILL 2438, EWHC 4 (TCC), 113 Con LR 1, (2007) 23 Const LJ 239 and  BLR 126
- Shawton Engineering Ltd v DGP International
 CILL 2306 CA
- Safeway Stores v Interserve
 All ER (D) 07 TCC
- Costain Ltd v Bechtel Ltd
 TCLR 6 and  BLM Vol. 22 No.8 p.1 TCC
- Emcor Drake & Scull Ltd v Sir Robert McAlpine
 98 Con LR 1 CA
- AMEC Capital Projects Ltd v Whitefriars City Estates
 96 Con LR 142,  BLR 1 CA,  20 Const LJ 338 and  EWHC 393 (TCC)
- Road Management Services (A13) plc v London Power Networks
 All ER (D) 342 TCC
- Canary Riverside Development v Timtec International
 Con LJ Vol 19, No 5 283 QBD
- “Keating on NEC 3” David Thomas QC 1st Ed, May 2012.
- “NEC Contracts: A Lawyers Perspective” SCL Annual Conference, Leeds 2013.
- “Discharge of Bondsmen after Hackney Empire v Aviva”. SCL Lecture, London 2013
- “Practical issues on Projects using NEC 3” Hong Kong SCL Conference, Hong Kong, October 2012
- “The FIDIC Dispute Resolution Machinery following CRW Joint Operation v PT Perusahan Gas Negara” Singapore CIArb and SCL, Singapore, October 2012.
- “International Construction Arbitration: Current Topics.” Korea International Arbitration Summit, Seoul 2012.
- “The 2012 International Arbitration Survey” Construction Law International, March 2013.
- “Contractual Obligations of Good Faith” Construction Law International, December 2012.
- “Standard Form Construction and Engineering Contracts: Current and Recent Developments” Construction Law International September 2012.
- “The New Edition of the I Chem E Suite” Construction Law International June 2013
- Sometimes lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, International Construction Contracts and Arbitration. Contributor, Keating on Construction Contracts – Eighth Edition (2006).
Education and Professional Career
BA in Jurisprudence (First Class Honours), Wadham College, Oxford
Middle Temple Astbury Law Scholar
Called to the Bar (Middle Temple)
Called to the Bar of Gibraltar
CEDR Accredited Mediator
Trained in Dispute Adjudication Board Hearings and Procedure
Technology and Construction Bar Association (TECBAR)
UK Energy Law Group
Professional Negligence Bar Association
The Society of Construction Law
ICC United Kingdom
Dispute Resolution Board Foundation
Commercial Bar Association (COMBAR)
David is a keen gardener with a particular interest in fruit growing and topiary. He also enjoys cricket and is a member of the MCC.
If you would like to discuss ways in which Keating Chambers can assist you or your organisation, please contact Senior Clerk, Nick Child
, in the first instance, on +44(0)20 7544 2600. The teams of Clerks will be pleased to advise you on the member of Keating Chambers appropriate to your requirements.
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