Simon Hughes QC

Call: 1995 Silk: 2011


Tel: +44 (0)20 7544 2600

Practice Overview

Simon Hughes joined Keating Chambers after coming top of his degree year at Oxford. He was made a Queen’s Counsel in 2011 and was one of the most junior applicants to be appointed that year. He specialises in major construction, engineering, shipbuilding and other off-shore and energy related disputes and is a leading senior counsel in these areas. Simon has been involved in disputes involving most standard form contracts used for substantial projects including the JCT standard forms, ICE 5th and 6th editions, the NEC, IChemE, FIDIC (Green, Red, Yellow and Silver Books), and derivative standard form agreements. He has particular experience of FIDIC forms and the NEC. In terms of types of dispute, Simon has particular experience of international power-plant disputes, major infrastructure projects and shipbuilding work, particularly in the Far East, and in disputes where the governing law is not English law. He has represented and advised clients on disputes in Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Australia, Dubai and other parts of the UAE, various islands within the Caribbean and New Zealand. He has been admitted to the Bar in Trinidad & Tobago and New Zealand for specific cases.

Whilst a lot of Simon’s work involves arbitration – and he has experience of over 20 different national legal systems being the law of the contract – he is also well-known as a court advocate, both in the TCC and Commercial Court in London, and has been successful in a large number of reported cases. Simon was for a number of years an editor of Chitty on Contracts and he is currently an editor of Keating on Construction Contracts (adjudication chapter), the Construction Law Reports and he is the author (with Jeremy Glover) of FIDIC Red Book (now 2nd ed.).

Practice Areas
  • Construction & Engineering
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Offshore, Shipping & Marine Engineering
  • International Arbitration
  • FIDIC Experience
  • Professional Negligence
  • Commercial Litigation
Construction & Engineering

Simon has been fortunate to have acted on some of the largest, and most challenging, heavy civil engineering disputes of the day. In addition to a great deal of highway/highway infrastructure and associated geotechnical work, Simon was involved in major one-off projects such as the Channel Tunnel, the Jubilee Line Extension, the refurbishment of Blackwall Tunnel and work to Thelwall Viaduct. In the overseas context, involvement in substantial disputes has included those in Nigeria concerned with LNG facilities; pipe line construction and protection works in Kazakhstan and Georgia; and major road projects for a US contractor in Eastern Europe.

  • Substantial retail developments. Simon is currently involved in disputes relating to the construction of a massive out-of-town shopping complex, and also has an up-coming trial in relation to a very substantial distribution centre in the Midlands (UK). He has extensive experience of new build construction of complex retail, together with disputes arising out of re-development and adaptation of existing construction, both in the UK, the Middle East and in Hong Kong and Singapore.
  • Airports. Simon has been involved in a substantial amount of complex disputes associated with the construction of airports around the globe. He advised and acted for the JV involved in Manchester Airport and was also involved in the expansion of Heathrow. As a junior, he was involved in disputes over Hong Kong airport. More recently, he led a team in a successful DIAC arbitration concerning Dubai’s third terminal. He is currently instructed on a substantial Hong Kong arbitration concerned with an air/military base.
  • Adjudication across the sector. Simon has very substantial experience of coming along side clients and supporting them across the whole breadth of adjudications. Simon will get involved at different stages depending upon complexity and client need. In large adjudications and for ‘DAB’ matters, Simon has prepared the written papers and conducted the hearings, and in the UK, Simon has has been counsel in a significant number of the landmark cases on enforcement of adjudicators’ decisions by the UK Courts. Simon has experience of a very wide range of disputes in adjudication, from large final account disputes, to specific technical issues raised during major ‘live’ projects, to claims for professional negligence and disputes over nuclear decommissioning.
  • Complex housing and hotel developments. In terms of UK work, Simon has acted for employers,
    contractors and consultants on very prestigious individuals houses, and more often on large commercial developments. He has acted on very large and high-profile disputes over piling in Hong Kong and also disputes in Singapore (where, for example, he acted in an arbitration concerned with construction of a landmark hotel and its casino).
  • Sports venues and stadia. Simon has been involved in substantial arbitrations concerning race courses and football stadia, both in the UK and overseas. He was involved in litigation and various adjudications associated with the construction of Wembley Stadium.
Energy & Natural Resources

Simon’s experience of ‘energy’ disputes is very extensive indeed. Recent examples include:

  • A major dispute between a financial institution and a French power generator relating to Teesside power station (TCC London).
  • Disputes arising out of de-sulphurisation works to an existing coal-fired power station in South Wales (TCC London).
  • A major dispute between a German power generator and Sellafield over the cost of spent fuel reprocessing (Chancery Division London).
  • A series of substantial disputes, in arbitration and ultimately compromised, concerning the construction of wind farms in the North Sea.
  • A major dispute over a co-generation plant constructed in the North Island of New Zealand which involved Simon spending over 12 months in the Auckland High Court defending Rolls-Royce plc.

The nuclear power sector has always been of substantial interest to Simon. Shortly after being taken on at Keating Chambers, he worked for several months at Sellafield. Far more recently, Simon has conducted a number of adjudications concerned with various decommissioning projects within the UK. He was involved in a major arbitration associated with the UK’s nuclear deterrent. He has also acted for a major German power generating company in relation to its costs of having spent fuel reprocessed in the UK.

Offshore, Shipping & Marine Engineering

This is a substantial part of Simon’s practice in silk, and an area in which he offers substantial experience. The following are examples of work in recent years:

  • Acting in an ICC arbitration for a Chinese yard in relating to Italian engineers in relation to quality of welding.
  • Acting for a Chinese/Singaporean yard against a US buyer in an LMAA arbitration who had just entered Chapter 11 in New York.
  • Currently acting against a Chinese yard, on instructions from a law firm in Singapore, in an LCIA arbitration in London.
  • Acting for a substantial Norwegian engineering services provider against an Egyptian owner of an FPSO in an LMAA arbitration.
  • Acting for cabling specialist in connection with a very substantial dispute over sub-sea cabling works.
  • Acting in an ad hoc arbitration on behalf of Norwegian buyers of a vessel under construction by a major Korean yard.
International Arbitration

Simon has long-standing experience of international arbitration under all of the major sets of arbitration rules (ICC, SIAC, DIAC, LCIA, LMAA, AAA and Swiss Rules) and has a particular expertise in fighting arbitrations, in English, where the law of the contract is not the law of England & Wales. This sort of work requires particular skill and experience, and Simon has arbitrated under the law of in excess of 20 different countries. Examples of recent experience:

  • Arbitration under the DIAC Rules in relation very substantial time/money disputes on Dubai terminal 3 (UAE law/Code).
  • Disputes over a reinsurance relating to rigs operating in Uzbekistan. Ad hoc arbitration (Uzbek law/Code).
  • Arbitration under the SIAC Rules in relation to the construction of a very high profile development in Singapore (Singapore law).
  • ICC arbitration relating to substantial civil engineering projects in Bucharest (Romanian law, seat in Milan and English language).
  • Currently involved in a Hong Kong arbitration concerning a very substantial project in East Africa.
  • Currently involved in a shipbuilding arbitration relating to project in a Chinese yard subject to LCIA rules (London seat, Singaporean law).
FIDIC Experience

Simon has extensive experience of advising on and (where necessary) fighting very large disputes where the underlying contract is a FIDIC or FIDIC-derived form. Simon has lectured on FIDIC for a number of years, and has written on the Red Book (see below). He has been counsel in a number of the leading English decisions on the role of the Engineer/certifier and this remains an area in which he has a keen interest. However, the depth and range of Simon’s practical experience of FIDIC is best illustrated by reference to his recent cases (all of which went to disputes):

  • Hospital projects in the Caribbean (sub-contract form)
  • M&E package at Dubai third terminal (silver)
  • De-sulphurisation works to an existing power plant (red)
  • New-build coal-fired power plant in Brazil (silver)
  • Co-generation (wood/gas) plant in North Island New Zealand (silver)
  • Sub-sea cabling contract (yellow)
  • Power plant project in Ireland (silver)


Professional Negligence

Construction-related professional negligence is a significant part of Simon’s overall practice. Simon has acted in claims against consulting engineers in connection with the design and build of a well-known sports stadium and architects in relation to the design of a new stand at a wellknown race course. He has acted both for and against professionals in a series of ‘fire cases’ involving complex technical issues relating to causation and also extent of recoverable loss. Simon has particular experience of professional negligence arising in the context of earthworks, geotechnical investigations, soil stabilisation and complex sub-sea engineering work (cabling, tunnelling and drilling).

Commercial Litigation

Simon regularly becomes involved in ‘commercial’ issues and disputes, whether as a function of his main construction & engineering/energy practice or in any event. Simon is regularly involved in disputes relating to bonds & guarantees; complex issues over insurance and reinsurance of risk; disputes over ownership and entitlement particularly in the insolvency context; and the full range of interlocutory measures aimed at supporting and enforcing international arbitration.

Case Reports
Case Date
National Stadium Project (Grenada) Corporation v NH International (Caribbean) Ltd 2015
Squibb vs London Pleasure Gardens and London Borough of Newham 2013
Oakapple Homes v DTR & Others 2013
Alstom Power Limited v Somi Impianti SRL 2012
Carillion v RWC and Phi Group Limited 2011
RWE Npower Plc v Alstom Power & Others 2010
Carter Holt Harvey v Rolls-Royce plc and Others 2009
Multiplex Constructions Limited v Mott Macdonald 2007
British Nuclear Group Sellafield Ltd v Kernkraftwerk Brokdorf and others 2007
Scheldebouw BV v St James Homes (Grosvenor Dock) Ltd 2006
Wimbledon Construction Co Ltd v Vago 2005
Wimbledon Construction Co 2000 Ltd v Vago 2005
AMEC Civil Engineering Ltd v Secretary of State for Transport 2005
AMEC Civil Engineering Ltd v Secretary of State for Transport 2005
AMEC Civil Engineering Ltd v Secretary of State for Transport 2005
AMEC Civil Engineering Ltd v Secretary of State for Transport 2005
AMEC Civil Engineering Ltd v Secretary of State for Transport 2005
Westminster Building Co Ltd v Beckingham 2004
Thames Water Utilities Ltd v London Regional Transport 2004
Rupert Morgan Building Services v Jervis 2004
Rupert Morgan Building Services (LLC) Ltd v Jervis 2004
Picardi v Cuniberti 2004
PC Partitions v Canary Wharf Contractors Limited 2004
Orange EBS Ltd v ABB Ltd 2004
Dwr Cymru (Welsh Water) v Carmarthenshire County Council 2004
Conor Engineering Ltd v Les Constructions Industrielle 2004
Watkins Jones & Son v Lidl UK 2003
Road Management Services (A13) plc v London Power Networks plc 2003
Picardi v Cuniberti 2003
Orange EBS Ltd v ABB Ltd 2003
Baldwins Industrial Services plc v Barr Ltd 2003
Baldwins Industrial Services Plc v Barr Limited 2003
Isovel Contracts Ltd v ABB Building Technologies Ltd 2002
Sherwood and Casson Limited v McKenzie 1999