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Fiona Sinclair QC

Construction Professionals

“She has a great reputation for her construction-related professional negligence work and is many solicitors' first choice for cases in that area.” (Chambers & Partners 2014)

Fiona has extensive experience of construction-related professional liability claims both in the UK and abroad. She has been consistently ranked by Chambers & Partners (including Chambers Global) and by the Legal 500 as a leader in this field.

Fiona’s successful practice in this area has included claims touching on every aspect of the services provided by construction professionals (feasibility, procurement and cost consultancy, design, contract administration, project management etc) across a wide range of specialisms (eg. building services including industrial refrigeration, geotechnical engineering, mining, etc.) and on a wide variety of projects (eg. process plant, energy generating plant, waste recycling plant, leisure centres and sports stadia, a dry ski-slope, warehouse/distribution centres, retail centres, hotels and general commercial, industrial and residential developments).

Fiona has extensive experience of very substantial construction and engineering disputes, often with international aspects and typically involving complex technical evidence. In the last 2 years, in addition to her heavyweight advisory, arbitration and adjudication practice, Fiona has appeared on no fewer than 14 significant decisions in the Technology & Construction Court, on 4 appeals to the Court of Appeal and led for the respondents in the first ever case on construction adjudication to reach the Supreme Court.

Fiona is particularly praised for her work in heavyweight, multiparty construction disputes involving construction professionals. She is an expert on the complex issues of contribution, costs and liability insurance which such disputes engender.

Her notable past and current cases include:

  • Defending a globally renowned design and build contractor in adjudication of a claim relating to innovative cladding on a flagship commercial building
  • Defending architects on a £130M claim brought by a design and build contractor in connection with an ultra-high end residential development
  • Acting for water waste water treatment systems contractor on claims under an IChemE contract
  • Acting for an international leisure group on a claim against architects in connection with the design and inspection of a hotel development
  • Acting for an international civil engineering contractor in adjudication of a claim relating to motorways construction
  • Acting for a design and build contractor defending a claim relating to warehouse concrete slab floors, and claiming on against structural engineers
  • Defending architects on a claim by a PFI developer in relation to education buildings
  • Acting for a design and build contractor on a claim against architects in relation to education buildings
  • Advising a water utility company on the Water Industry Act 1991 and the New Roads and Street Works Act 1990
  • Defending cladding engineers on a claim in connection with Bloomberg’s flagship new building in London. In the face of a contractual provision stating that proceedings must not be brought more than 12 years after practical completion, Fiona persuaded the Court that section 1(3) of the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978 meant that contribution claims made later could still succeed: Bloomberg LP v Sandberg LLP & Buro Happold LLP [2016] 1 BLR 72.
  • Defending asbestos surveyors in landmark litigation concerning the interface between construction adjudication under HGCRA and limitation: Aspect Contracts (Asbestos) Ltd v Higgins Construction plc [2015] UKSC 15. Fiona won victory for her clients in both the Court of Appeal and in the Supreme Court.
  • Acting for the architects in major litigation concerning the Broadway Plaza leisure, commercial and residential development. The litigation is listed for trial in January 2016 but has already given rise to three important decisions on costs management and amendment of pleadings: CIP Properties (AIPT) Ltd v Galliford Try Infrastructure Ltd & Ors [2014] EWHC 3546 (TCC), [2015] EWHC 481 (TCC) and [2015] EWHC 1345 (TCC). 
  • Acting on a contractor’s successful claim (as part of 6-party litigation) against building services engineers following catastrophic floods from a BMCWS at a residential development at Greenwich procured in circumstances which the Judge described as “death by subcontracting”: Greenwich Millennium Village Ltd v Essex Services Group plc (and Others) [2013] EWHC 3059 (TCC). The aftermath included the resolution of complex issues of principle on costs and Part 36 offers: [2014] EWHC 1099 (TCC).
  • Acting for a main contractor in a claim on against civil and structural engineers concerning the development of a warehouse/distribution centre with serious alleged defects: Co-operative Group Ltd v Birse Developments Ltd (and Others)[2012] EWHC 3060 (TCC), [2013] EWCA Civ 474, [2013] EWHC 1790 (TCC), [2013] EWHC 3100 (TCC), [2013] 3145 (TCC)
  • Acting for a main D&B contractor in a claim on against architects following a major fire at a designer shopping outlet: BMG (Mansfield) Ltd v (1) Galliford Try Construction Ltd (2) Aedas Architects Ltd [2013] EWHC 3183 (TCC) and [2013] EWHC 3468 (TCC)
  • Advising a main D&B contractor on a claim against structural engineers following the collapse of a tower crane, causing extensive property damage and personal injury.
  • Defending a novel claim against party wall surveyors in multi-party litigation arising from the construction of a basement floor at commercial premises in London.
  • Defending specialist construction law solicitors against a claim by the developers of three residential estates in the UK. Difficult issues of duty, breach, causation and loss.
  • Defending the health & safety consultants in a claim on by a building contractor following serious personal injury on a construction site.
  • Defending structural engineers in a multi-party claim concerning a large industrial warehouse floor. Technical issues included the adequacy of piling; legal issues included a sub-contractor’s duty of care to prevent economic loss (complex structure theory).
  • Defending building services engineers in a complex dispute relating to the construction of a “luxury-plus” residential development in London (Walter Lilly v DMV Developments) .
  • Defending quantity surveyors/cost consultants in £11 million claim arising from development of best-in-class luxury hotel.
  • Defending structural engineers in multi-party litigation on a £20 million claim relating to ground investigation and foundations design for a warehouse. 
  • Defending a multi-disciplinary construction professional firm on an £8 million claim arising out of the refurbishment of a leisure centre.
  • The M6 Thelwall Viaduct litigation: defending materials consultants in £35 million claim arising out of failure of motorway viaduct (roller bearings). Extremely complex technical issues involving 8-10 expert disciplines.
  • Defending a multi-disciplinary firm of construction professionals in £9 million claim for alleged overspend on regeneration of a West London housing estate.
  • Advising on a claim against mechanical and electrical engineers in relation to £20 million claim brought by developer of major City hotel. This case involved difficult issues as to the construction of collateral warranties. 
  • Acting for water treatment consultants in a claim relating to corrosion in a chilled water system.
  • Acting for refrigeration engineers in multi-party litigation arising out of frost heave at a food storage and distribution facility. 
  • Defending a claim against structural engineers arising out of the piling design for a basement car park in Guernsey. The case involved difficult issues as to the identification of and responsibility for temporary works. 
  • Acting for architects on a £2 million claim arising out of the redevelopment of commercial premises in London W1. 
  • Defending structural engineers in a £2 million claim arising out of the collapse of a 200-year old retaining wall during groundworks.  
  • Acting for offshore trust on a succcessful claim against structural surveyors concerning dry rot in a large country house (Republic International Trust c v Fletcher Ramos).
  • Jarvis v. Castle Wharf Development Limited [2001] Lloyd's Rep PN 308: Acting for architects in claim concerning planning difficulties at a landmark office and leisure development in Nottingham.
  • Hoadley v. JR Edwards [2001] PNLR 41: Acting for building surveyors in an action concerning the structural stability of a half-timbered property of unusual design.
  • Capital & Counties and Digital v. John D Laing & Ors (1997): Acting for architects in £25 million claim concerning a design and build contract for an office development which was destroyed by fire.

Fiona writes Chapter 9, "Construction Professionals" in Jackson & Powell on Professional Liability (Sweet & Maxwell, 7th edition, 2012).


TECBAR (Committee Member)
Arbitral Women
Scottish Arbitration Centre
The Adjudication Society