Seb Oram > Chambers of David Berkley QC > London, England > Lawyer Profile

Chambers of David Berkley QC
3PB
3 PAPER BUILDINGS, TEMPLE
LONDON
EC4Y 7EU
England

Work Department

Construction and engineering; Commercial; Property and Estates.

Position

Seb Oram is a Commercial and Construction Law barrister. He is recommended counsel in Who’s Who Legal 2019, Chambers UK 2020 and Legal 500 2020. In 2019 he received the International Advisory Experts’ Award in Construction Law.

Typical areas in which he receives instructions include:

Construction 

  • Bringing and defending construction claims
  • Dangerous structures and defective premises
  • Professional negligence (including architects, designers, engineers, M&E and project managers)
  • Disputes arising from interim certificates and final accounts
  • Adjudications and their enforcement
  • Advising in relation to disputes arising under the common-form contract suites (in particular JCT and NEC contracts)
  • Party wall disputes and appeals

Commercial

  • Professional negligence (including lawyers, insurance brokers, finance professionals, and directors’ duties)
  • Insolvency (personal and corporate)
  • Insurance disputes
  • Company and partnership disputes
  • Breach of trust and tracing claims
  • Sale of goods and financing agreements
  • Commercial disputes and joint ventures

Property and Estates

  • Disputes about land (including contracts for sale, new-build developments, land registration and unregistered land)
  • Mortgages and receivership
  • Landlord and tenant (particularly commercial leases and renewals; and private sector residential tenancies)

After reading law at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Seb completed an LL.M. (by research) at the University of Bristol, investigating the impact of European Community law on the investment practices of institutional investors.

Publications and lectures

Construction and engineering

Seb regularly advises and acts in relation to construction disputes, and routinely deals with disputes arising under the common-form contract suites (in particular JCT and NEC contracts). A large part of his practice concerns professional negligence in the construction and engineering context.

In each of his practice areas he represents parties in arbitration, the High Court and the County Court. He also acts in adjudications under the 1996 Act and in the enforcement of adjudicator awards.

Recent cases

  • Defending a final account claim in respect of a high-value Central London redevelopment (ongoing; TCC)
  • Software claim to recover business losses suffered through errors in the design of bespoke customer relationship management software (ongoing; arbitration)
  • Professional negligence claim against structural engineers relating to foundations advice; recovery of additional project costs (ongoing; Technology and Construction Court)
  • Property owner’s claim against design and build basement specialists relating to tilting of the structure (ongoing; TCC)
  • Professional negligence claim against architects arising from deficient design, project management, and cost control, of garden redesign project (2016-2018; TCC, Court of Appeal)
  • Negligence claim against third party M&E contractors, arising from sprinkler system flooding to commercial premises (2017)
  • Acting for the employer in defending a neighbours’ claim arising from an escape of fire from a construction site, and in parallel contribution proceedings against the main contractor (2014-2015, TCC)

Noteworthy and recent cases (Technology / Construction)

Burgess v. Lejonvarn [2017] EWCA Civ 254, 171 ConLR 118 (CA); [2018] 181 ConLR 204 (TCC) – Professional negligence claim against architect; assumption of responsibility in tort for design and project management services provided gratuitously.

Ziggurat (Claremont Place) LLP v HCC International Insurance Co plc [2017] EWHC 3286 (TCC), (2017) 176 ConLR 161 (TCC) – Explored the wording of the industry-standard contractor’s bond, and the insurer’s liability under it on the contractor’s insolvency.

Seeney v. Gleeson Developments Ltd [2015] EWHC 3244 (TCC), [2015] All ER (D) 143 (Nov) – Residential homebuyers’ claim against national housebuilder, arising out of design and construction defects in a new-build home.

West 3 Mechanical Contractors Ltd v Mizen Design Build Ltd [2014] All ER (D) 40 (TCC) – Defence of contractor’s claim for payment, centering on defective installation of gas installation pipework.

Hunt and Ors v. Optima (Cambridge) Ltd and Anor [2013] EWHC 681 (TCC), (2013) 148 ConLR 27 (TCC) – Defects and tenants’ repair claim arising out of the development of 26 new-build properties.

JGD Construction Ltd v. Mills [2013] EWHC 572 (Ch), [2013] BPIR 811 – Appeal considering the extent to which the court has a discretion to make a final third party debt order, notwithstanding the fact that the judgment debtor has entered formal insolvency proceedings.

Commercial

Seb’s Commercial practice focuses on professional negligence, insolvency and business entities (Company Law, LLPs and joint ventures). A significant proportion of the matters in which he acts raise questions of conflicts between international jurisdictions.

In the field of professional negligence, his experience in the Commercial sphere extends to claims against lawyers, insurance brokers, finance professionals, and company directors. He is frequently instructed in claims arising from the misconduct of litigation and conveyancing transactions. He also prosecutes and defends claims for breach of directors’ duties, including derivative claims under the Companies Act 2006.

In each of his practice areas he represents parties in arbitration, the High Court and the County Court.

Recent cases

  • Buyer’s claim against manufacturer, for breach of warranties of quality and description of bulk consumer goods sold under a contract for international sale (2019; Commercial Court)
  • Software claim relating to business losses suffered through errors in the design of bespoke customer relationship management software (ongoing; arbitration)
  • Claim under commercial hire agreements relating to breach of warranty of defective energy turbines supplied under Feed-In Tariff scheme (ongoing; Technology and Construction Court)
  • Warranty claim made against sellers of a dental practice (ongoing; Chancery List)
  • Professional negligence claim against conveyancing solicitors, resulting in transfers of defective title (2018; Chancery Division)
  • Professional negligence claims against financial (tax) advisors, arising from ‘film scheme’ income tax mitigation advice (2018; Queen’s Bench)
  • Acting for an AIM-listed company in derivative action proceedings under the Companies Act 2006

Recent cases (Commercial):

Davy v. Pickering [2017] EWCA Civ 30; [2017] 2 BCLC 260, The Times, 2017, 8 March – The discretion to make directions under s.1032 of the Companies Act 2006, including provision back-dating the deemed date of presentation of a winding up petition.

Dawson v. Bell [2016] EWCA Civ 96; [2016] 2 BCLC 59 – Damages for economic duress / tort of intimidation, arising out of the execution of a shareholders’ agreement.

Green (as liquidator of Al Fayhaa Mass Media Limited) v. El-Tai [2015] BPIR 24 (Ch) – Liquidator’s preference claim considering director’s duty of fairness between creditors, in repaying loans.

Threlfall v. ECD Insight Ltd [2013] IRLR 185 (QB) – Breach of solicitation covenant in director’s employment contract, and in a share buy-out agreement.

JGD Construction Ltd v. Mills [2013] EWHC 572 (Ch), [2013] BPIR 811 – Appeal considering the extent to which the court has a discretion to make a final third party debt order, notwithstanding the fact that the judgment debtor has entered formal insolvency proceedings.

Stupples v. Stupples & Co (High Wycombe) Ltd [2012] EWHC 1226 (Ch); [2013] 1 BCLC 729 – Defence of claim for agent’s fees, based on agent’s conflict of interest.

Asiansky Television Plc & Anor v Khanzada & Ors [2011] EWHC 2831 (QB) – Professional negligence claim in relation to the conduct of litigation.

Imageview Management Ltd v. Jack [2009] EWCA Civ 63; [2009] 2 All ER 666; [2009] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 436; [2009] 1 BCLC 724; [2009] Bus LR 1034; The Times, 24 March 2009 – Extent of a fiduciary’s disentitlement to remuneration following breach of duty.

Property and Estates

Seb’s Property and Estates practice focuses on disputes about land, and landlord and tenant. A substantial part of his practice relates to disputes about property ownership, and defects in land registration. In the landlord and tenant context he is regularly instructed in disrepair claims, particularly those involving expert, technical evidence.

He is a member of the Chancery Bar Association.

Seb has considerable experience of advocacy in the Property Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal, the High Court and County Courts, and has been instructed in the Court of Appeal.

Recent cases

  • Land registry rectification claim relating to charity land
  • Disrepair claims brought by multiple tenants of a residential block, against their landlord
  • Claims to a beneficial interest between joint (co-habiting) owners of properties
  • Joint venture disputes arising from commercial agreements to purchase/develop land

Recent cases – Property and Estates, Chancery:

Dawson v Bell [2016] EWCA Civ 96; [2016] 2 BCLC 59

Damages for economic duress / tort of intimidation, arising out of the execution of a shareholders’ agreement.

Hunt and Ors v. Optima (Cambridge) Ltd and Anor [2013] EWHC 681 (TCC), (2013) 148 ConLR 27

Defects and tenants’ repair claim arising out of the development of 26 new-build properties.

Courtenay Gate Lawns Ltd v. Lee [2012] UKUT 125 (Lands Chamber)

Resisting application to discharge restrictive covenants in a long lease, raising a point of principle as to the effect of a landlord’s conduct in granting subsequent leases in different form.

 

Career

Called 2007; Lincoln’s Inn. Publications of note: ‘Forfeiture of fiduciary remuneration following breach of duty: from contract to conscience’ [2010] ‘Lloyd’s Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly’ 95.

Languages

Speaks French and Spanish fluently, and has a good working knowledge of Italian.

Memberships

  • Associate member of the Association of Business Recovery Professionals (“R3”)
  • Chancery Bar Association
  • Member of the Society of Construction Law
  • Technology & Construction Bar Association (TECBAR)

Education

  • MA (Hons.) Law, Trinity Hall, Cambridge
  • LL.M., University of Bristol

Lawyer Rankings

London Bar > Professional negligence

(Leading Juniors) Ranked: Tier 5

Seb Oram3PBHe has a great ability to absorb complex facts and cut to the heart of the issue. He is methodical and, in terms of bang for your buck, you get a much bigger bang with Seb than you would with other barristers of a similar year of call.