John Uff originally trained as a civil engineer, becoming a specialist in geotechnics but after five years practice he transferred to the Bar and became Donald Keating’s last pupil.
While developing an extensive practice in all areas of engineering and construction, he has maintained close interests in writing, lecturing and academia. In 1987 he became the founding Director of the Centre of Construction Law and Dispute Resolution at King’s College, London, and was appointed to the Nash Chair of Engineering Law at the University of London in 1992. Since 2003 he is Emeritus Professor of Engineering Law at King’s College. John Uff’s national and international reputation has led to many appointments as arbitrator in substantial disputes in most parts of the world as well as being appointed to chair Public Inquiries in the UK and abroad.
He has maintained close contact with the engineering world through the ICE and the Royal Academy of Engineering. John has been closely involved in many developments in the construction industry over the past two decades, through committees and publications and has most recently spearheaded the engineering profession's drive to establish new code of ethics in the engineering profession. In 1996 he served as Chairman of a Public Inquiry into Yorkshire water. In 1998-2001 chaired two Public Inquiries into rail accidents: first the Southall inquiry and secondly, sitting jointly with Lord Cullen, into rail safety systems, following the Paddington crash. Most recently he was invited to a chair panel of Commissioners inquiring into the activities of the public construction industry in Trinidad and Tobago. His report, which received wide publicity throughout the Caribbean, was delivered to the President in March 2010. His professional activities have included serving on the Court and appointment as a Vice President of the London Court of International Arbitration and serving as President of the Society of Construction Arbitrators.
“One of the top UK arbitrators in Europe, and his practice also extends around the globe.”
Chambers and Partners 2013
“One of the leading international arbitrators”...“deep-rooted expertise in construction and engineering disputes.”
Chambers and Partners 2013
The "full package" as an arbitrator”…“in-depth knowledge of the legal
issues in infrastructure disputes”…“strong technical understanding.”
Chambers and Partners 2012
"Technical understanding and ability to keep the arbitration process moving in the right direction."
Chambers and Partners 2011
"Ever-popular and dependable."
Chambers and Partners 2010
"Willingness to roll up his sleeves and modify procedure in order to get things moving quickly."
Chambers & Partners 2008
John Uff has worked on many substantial arbitrations, as sole arbitrator, Chairman or Tribunal member throughout the world from Australasia and the Far East to the Middle East, Europe and North America.
- Sole Arbitrator on a wide range of disputes on an off-shore gas rig in Australia.
- Party arbitrator in an ad hoc Tribunal dealing with disputes on design and construction of a nickel and cobalt process plant in Western Australia.
- Party arbitrator in ICC case concerning construction of silos in Middle East.
- Party arbitrator in ICC case concerning a power plant in Kuwait.
- Chairman of a UNCITRAL tribunal dealing with disputes on major building project in Eastern Europe.
- Chairman of ICC Tribunal dealing with issues of delay and defects concerning major power plant in Thailand.
- Chairman of ICC Tribunal on disputes arising from construction of substantial oil-transfer facility in North Africa.
- Party arbitrator on disputes arising from the construction of two high-spec oil drilling vessels.
- Sole arbitrator in LCIA dispute in Caribbean concerning design and construction of substantial beach resort.
- Chairman of ICC Tribunal dealing with issues of delay and defects on international construction project in Gibraltar.
- Chairman of ad hoc Tribunal appointed to determine large number of disputes on design and construction of military air-base in Gulf region.
- Party-appointed member of ICC Tribunal dealing with delay and determination issues arising from power transmission works, South Pacific.
- Chairman of ICC Tribunal dealing with disputes including determination on natural gas process plant, Greece.
Appointed in Adjudications and ADR
John Uff has been appointed on a substantial number of adjudications and ADR proceedings in recent years dealing with claims on major projects.
- Delay issues on central London project.
- Termination of manufacturing plant in North Africa.
- Delay and disruption dispute on national motorway structure.
- Termination of major bank construction project.
- Rail network maintenance contracts.
- Refurbishment works at a major national gallery.
- A major port and ferry terminal upgrade.
Acting as Counsel
Acting for the Treasury Solicitor on projects including:
- PFI project for water services.
- Major facility for UK armed services.
- Disputes on PFI project for National Laboratory.
Also giving specialist advice on construction projects and procedures for dispute resolution, particularly involving international issues and parties.
Selected Reported Cases
Landmark reported cases
Bay Hotel & Zurich Indemnity Company v Cavalier Construction  Privy Council Appeal No. 32 of 2000, on enforcement of an AAA award in Turks and Caicos Islands.
John Mowlem Construction Plc v Secretary of State for Defence  CILL 655 Commercial Court, on time limits for the conduct of arbitration.
McAlpine Humberoak Ltd v McDermott International Inc  58 BLR 1, Court of Appeal on the effect of variations in design in the overall interpretation of the contract and in determining entitlement to extension of time.
Department of Environment v Thomas Bates  AC 499, House of Lords, on the recoverability of economic loss in the tort of negligence.
- Contributor, Keating on Construction Contracts - 4th to 8th Edition (2008).
- Joint author, Chapter on Construction Contracts in 28th to 30th Edition of Chitty on Contracts (2008).
- Construction Law, 10th Edition (2009).
- Principal author: Construction Industry Model Arbitration Rules (1998).
- 100 - day Arbitration Rules.
- Principal editor for a series of Construction Law publications, King's College London: Construction Contract Policy (1989), International and ICC Arbitration (1990), Legal Obligations in Construction (1992), Risk Management and Procurement in Construction (1995), Construction Law and the Environment (1997), New Horizons in Construction Law (1998).
- Joint author, Institution of Civil Engineers Arbitration Practice, Thomas Telford (1983).
- “How final should Dispute Resolution be” paper to Soc of Construction Law, July 2010, republished in ACLN.
- The Availability of treaty Arbitrations in Construction (jointly) Int Construction Law Rev September 2010.
- "The responsibility of being an engineer": Presidential keynote address, BA Festival of Science, Exeter University (2004)
- "Legal duties at the fringe: ethics in construction law": 4th Michael Brown Lecture, King's College, London (2003)
- "Engineering Ethics: do Engineers owe duties to the public": Royal Academy of Engineering Lloyds Register lecture (2002)
- "Risk in Engineering": Thomas Hawksley Memorial Lecture, Institution of Mechanical Engineers (2002)
- Keynote paper, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators' Conference, Dublin. "Dispute resolution in the 21st Century." Arbitration r.67 p.4 (2001).
Education and Professional Career
BSc, Engineering, King’s College, London
PhD, Geotechnics, King’s College, London
Called to the Bar (Gray’s Inn)
Fellow, Institution of Civil Engineers
Director, Centre of Construction Law & Management
Nash Professor of Engineering Law, King’s College, London
Head of Keating Chambers
Fellow, Royal Academy of Engineering
Fellow, King’s College, London
Recorder and Deputy Judge of the Technology and Construction Court
President’s Medal, Society of Construction Law
CBE for services to rail safety
Gold Medal, Institute of Civil Engineers
Council of the Institution of Civil Engineers
Standing Committee on Structural Safety
Dept. of Environment Committee on Latent Damage Insurance
DTI Advisory Committee on Arbitration Law
Chairman, Independent Commission of Inquiry into Yorkshire Water
Chairman, Public Enquiry into Southall Train Crash
Joint Chairman (with Lord Cullen) of Public Inquiry into Train Protection Systems
President, Engineering Section of British Association for Advancement of Science
Vice President, London Court of International Arbitration
President, Society of Construction Arbitrators
Honorary Member, Society of Construction Law (KL & Selangor)
Chairman, Comission of Inquiry into Public Construction sector, Trinidad and Tobago
Treasurer, Gray’s Inn
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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John Uff has worked on many substantial arbitrations, as sole arbitrator, Chairman or Tribunal member throughout the world from Australasia and the Far East to the Middle East, Europe and North America. Examples of recent work include arbitrations in Dubai about off-shore oil installations, in Poland concerning motorway construction, in Singapore concerning ship-building and in Kazakhstan dealing with airport construction.
He undertakes as wide range of ADR appointments including many substantial adjudications (recently involving disputed delay claims on a major city project), mediations (recently dealing with a substantial production plant in Northern Ireland), exert determinations and the provision of Joint Advice to parties in dispute. He has also acted as expert witness on construction law issues in an ICSID arbitration; and was instructed by the Treasury Solicitor to lead a team of 6 counsel in an arbitration on a very substantial PFI project.