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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In Europe, Middle East and Africa, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for seven consecutive years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Arab Emirates > Construction > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


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Clyde & Co LLP is praised for ‘taking a commercial approach to its advice’. Michael Grose, Mark Blanksby and Heather Nevin, who is based in Abu Dhabi, regularly handle high-stakes construction arbitrations involving a range of projects. On the non-contentious side, Grose and senior associate Greg Sibbald advised China State Construction Engineering Corporation on Egypt’s new administrative capital project. The practice was joined by Matthew Heywood from Pinsent Masons LLP, while health and safety expert Alan Henderson was promoted to legal director. Adrian Creed joined Bracewell LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP is ‘a go-to firm’ with ‘deep knowledge and experience of construction disputes’. The firm has a strong track record in airport construction mandates; Michelle Nelson handles non-contentious work, while Sachin Kerur represented GMR Maldives International in a long-running dispute following the termination of a contract with the Maldives government to redevelop Malé airport. Non-contentious highlights included Bill Smith’s advice to Kier on the Dubai Arena project. Mark Raymont and Jed Savager are also names to note.

Allen & Overy LLP provides ‘excellent advice, combining technical expertise and commerciality’. Duncan Macnab, qualified engineer Shaun Beaton, Sachin Karia and counsel Eleanor Milne3 regularly provide non-contentious advice on infrastructure projects; Beaton is advising Masdar on the construction and development of an 800MW solar power project in Dubai. Counsel Nick Jackson in Abu Dhabi is ‘a construction guru who always provides succinct, to-the-point advice’. Christopher Mainwaring-Taylor and senior associate Yacine Francis are key figures for disputes.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP’s wide-ranging experience includes advice to buyers and contractors on hotels and industrial plants, among other projects. Richard Davies is advising Al Tayer Group on several department store fit-outs, and assisted a joint venture company between Yoma Strategic Holdings and Mitsubishi Corporation with a project to redevelop the old Burma Railway Company building in Yangon, Myanmar. Davies also handles contentious matters, as do Charles Lilley and Raza Mithani. Senior associate Anna Gee is also recommended.

Clifford Chance’s ‘deep resources add significant value’. In Abu Dhabi, Tim Steadman, who relocated from London in 2017, and Richard Parris handle construction matters relating to infrastructure projects. In Dubai, James Abbott handles construction disputes arising from projects in the Middle East and beyond. Clients include SOCAR and Emirates Global Aluminium.

DLA Piper Middle East LLP’s construction team is noted for providing advice that is ‘very good and strategically sound’. Duncan Pickering and Trevor Butcher’s transactional highlights include advising Gulf Related on negotiations with contractors for the AED1bn Al Maryah Central development. Henry Quinlan is representing Hircon International in a dispute with contractor Dubai Civil Engineering pertaining to a residential skyscraper and concerning issues of delay, variations and defects. Daniel Jude, the ‘strategic and commercial’ Simon Palmer and ‘hardworking and diligent’ Suzannah Newboult (who was promoted to partner in 2017) also handle construction and engineering disputes.

Dentons’ ‘very strong front- and back-end construction practice’ advises on a range of industrial, infrastructure and skyscraper projects. In Abu Dhabi, Jon Nash advised Emirates Global Aluminium on upgrades to its smelters, while Ian Dalley advised the developers on the Qurayyat desalination plant in Oman. Senior consultant Peter Shaw (who is ‘a market veteran’) and construction practice head Alastair Young, who transferred from the London office, handle construction arbitration work. Senior associate Dean Ryburn re-joined the firm from ACWA Power. Michael Kerr has retired.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer provides ‘very practical solutions to unique challenges’. Erin Miller Rankin is representing the Bahrain government in a dispute concerning alleged defects and delays to a PPP housing project. Also recommended are counsel Kim Rosenberg, associate Sarah-Jane Fick, and senior associate Scott Lochhead, who is part of a cross-office team advising Save The Children on its construction projects.

Hadef & Partners LLC attracts praise for its ‘real strength in depth, well-established links in the region, and great understanding of UAE law and procedure’. Practice head John Smy (‘unflappable even in the most trying circumstances and very client-friendly’) represents contractors and developers in arbitrations. Anthony Edwards is also recommended, as is senior legal consultant Matthew Page, who ‘shows great judgement in his dealings with clients’. Clients include Johnson Controls. Patrick McPherson joined CMS in June 2018.

King & Spalding LLP handles disputes and non-contentious work, often involving public procurement projects. Tim Burbury is advising Bupa Arabia on a new outpatient clinic in Jeddah. Adrian Cole and senior associate John Packer handle construction disputes regarding developments ranging from oil infrastructure through to hotels.

At Trowers & Hamlins LLP, Michael O’Reilly and Cheryl Cairns handle both non-contentious and contentious work. O’Reilly continues to act as project counsel to the Shuaibah 3 combined desalination and power plant project in Saudi Arabia. Cairns and senior associate April Chivers go ‘above and beyond, and always with a smile and a laugh’. Reece Poutawera joined Multiplex Constructions.

At Al Tamimi & Company, key contacts for contentious construction include Naief Yahia for litigation and Thomas Snider for arbitration. Bombardier and Laing O’Rourke are clients. Scott Lambert is now at Beale & Company (Middle East).

Baker Botts L.L.P.provides high-quality advice’ to developers and some contractors, primarily in disputes regarding the construction of infrastructure. Stephen Burke and John Lonsberg are names to note. Jonathan Sutcliffe is now with K&L Gates.

CMS’ Nicholas Kramer ‘leads by example and is well-respected within and outside the firm’; he is advising an Abraaj Group fund on the procurement and construction of twenty hospitals in Africa and South Asia. Jeremie Witt acts for contractors in disputes concerning megaprojects. Patrick McPherson was a new arrival from Hadef & Partners LLC in June 2018.

Dechert LLP has ‘an excellent reputation for construction disputes’. Ravinder Bhullar, a new hire from legacy firm Nabarro (prior to its merger with CMS), is ‘highly experienced and takes a client-friendly approach’ – he handles a range of DIAC and LCIA arbitrations for clients including government-linked developers. Associate Alex Freeman is ‘hardworking and employs a very commercial approach’.

Boutique firm Fenwick Elliott LLP is praised for its ‘practical service, which takes into account the specific requirements of each project’. The team handles dispute and potential dispute work, covering high-profile projects in the UAE and wider region. Ahmed Ibrahim is ‘an excellent practitioner who combines deep construction knowhow with excellent arbitration expertise’, while Nicholas Gould provides ‘a good awareness of the political position and appropriate strategy’.

At Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, Craig Shepherd and Caroline Kehoe provide ‘sage, hands-on support’ in high-stakes construction disputes, often regarding oil infrastructure. They are representing Leighton Offshore in ongoing and potential disputes regarding Iraqi refinery projects. Senior associate Geoffroy Hermanns, who handles non-contentious work, is ‘clearly well-versed in his field and provides highly reliable and accurate advice’.

Hogan Lovells (Middle East) LLP handles a range of issues arising from challenging and high-profile developments, including disputes and contract reviews. Nabeel Ikram, in addition to being ‘one of the best construction dispute resolution experts in the local market’ for many, also handles advisory work. Christopher Cross handles transactional matters related to skyscrapers and industrial structures.

Shearman & Sterling LLP’s Alex Bevan is ‘a top class advocate and team leader’. In an illustration of Bevan’s track record in heavyweight construction arbitrations, he is representing Areva in a dispute regarding a nuclear power project in Finland.

Addleshaw Goddard’s Bevan Farmer and Andrew Greaves represent consultants and contractors in various disputes, often concerning significant projects. Clients include Arabtec Construction and Multiplex Constructions.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP handles a range of construction matters, often tying in with the firm’s strengths in energy. Marc Hammerson is advising Ventura Group on all aspects of a $2bn gas pipeline. Chadi Salloum advises the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA).

BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP provides ‘an excellent level of service, with a high level of industry expertise and good relationships with its clients’. Antonios Dimitracopoulos regularly acts for contractors and subcontractors and ‘provides very precise and clear advocacy in arbitration hearings’.

Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla’s arbitration team provides ‘responsive, knowledgeable and to-the-point advice’ on construction disputes. Habib Al Mulla handles arbitration and litigation concerning large developments and infrastructure projects.

For some, Beale & Company (Middle East) is ‘a top-flight niche practice in the construction field’. Newly promoted partner Claire Miller is ‘a very effective, no-nonsense litigator who gets results’. Scott Lambert joined from Al Tamimi & Company in January 2018.

At Galadari, Advocates & Legal Consultants, Thanos Karvelis and senior associate Daniel Brawn are representing an MEP contractor in a DIAC arbitration involving complex issues of UAE law. On the employer side, the two also provide contentious and non-contentious advice to Terna. Abdulla Ziad Galadari handles construction litigation in the courts.

In addition to its transactional expertise, Gowling WLGcan stand toe to toe with larger firms’ in construction disputes. James Foster advises buyers on construction projects, while Jonathan Brufal – for some ‘one of the best construction lawyers in the market’ – is advising Abu Dhabi Capital Group on an EPC contract for the construction of a hospital in Abu Dhabi.

For some HFW is ‘more adaptable and ingenious than its competitors’, and handles contentious and non-contentious work concerning real estate developments, as well as more unusual projects. Practice head Beau McLaren (who joined from Dentons) is ‘hardworking, client friendly and extremely innovative: all the attributes of a great lawyer’. Senior associates Jane Miles and James Plant are also recommended. Clients include Alstom, Denholm Yam and several Korean contractors.

Kennedys’ Mark Wilson and Andrew MacCuish handle contentious and non-contentious work respectively – Wilson represents leading contractors in disputes, while in the non-contentious space MacCuish advises Emaar Properties on a review of its standard form construction and engineering contracts.

At Simmons & Simmons Middle East LLP, David Risbridger handles significant DIAC arbitrations and complex development projects. Lucy Bushell is a key managing associate.

Taylor Wessing (Middle East) LLP’s construction practice attracts praise for its ‘focus on clients’ needs and the ability to take the lead rather than just delegate to associates’. Key figures include Nick Carnell, who ‘conducts his manners with old-school sophistication and a little bit of swagger’, and Mark Fraser, who is representing Norconsultant International in a Thai Arbitration Institute dispute regarding resurfacing the runways at Bangkok airport.

White & Case LLP’s Michael Turrini primarily represents employers in high-stakes disputes arising from energy and water infrastructure developments and high-rise projects. On the non-contentious side, Luke Robottom is advising ADWEA on the construction aspects of the Barakah nuclear project.

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