“Someone who properly understands client relationships and can go well beyond legality into practicalities.” “A very strong draftsman and powerful in the courtroom.” – Chambers & Partners, 2017

‘He gets into the detail in a way few other counsel can.’ – Legal 500, 2016

‘Impressive technical knowledge and a very skilful advocate.’ – Legal 500, 2015

Recognised as a leading practitioner in construction matters, Paul Cowan has over 16 years of experience of international and national construction practice, advising on many of the world’s largest and highest-profile projects. In terms of his international experience, Paul has advised and represented clients in relation to projects all over the world, with extensive experience in civil law jurisdictions. Alongside this, Paul retains a high profile in relation to UK construction law practice.

Originally qualified as a barrister, Paul also qualified as a solicitor and practised (as a partner) in the Construction and International Arbitration practices of White & Case LLP.

Construction disputes: Paul’s primary experience is in relation to construction disputes and claims, in particular complex delay / disruption claims, as well as defects claims and other commercial disputes. Paul has a practical ‘hands on’ approach, engaging with the project personnel and documentation and understanding the technical issues involved, from which he has prepared detailed claim and / or defence documents (including being personally responsible for drafting one of the largest filings that is known to have been made in international proceedings). Paul is also a specialist advocate, regularly appearing as counsel for clients in international arbitration hearings (ICC, UNCITRAL and other), as well as in adjudication and dispute board proceedings. Paul is Chairman of the JCT’s Construction Dispute Resolution Group.

Main forms of contract: Paul has long experience advising on the principal standard forms of construction contracts used in international and national projects, notably the FIDIC forms of contract and the JCT suite of standard forms used in the UK (in respect of the latter, Paul has sat on the JCT Council for approximately 15 years), as well as numerous bespoke contracts and construction agreements relating to all forms of construction procurement (from turnkey EPC, traditional, to construction management forms).

Sector experience: Paul has advised on projects across many different sectors of industrial and commercial activity, with a particularly strong emphasis on power sector projects (including his unparalleled years of experience advising in detail on the “new-build” of the next generation of nuclear power plants), hydro-power projects, and energy-from-waste projects.  Paul also has long experience advising on large-scale oil & gas projects in the Middle East and North Africa, plus other large infrastructure projects.  He has also advised on many high-profile public projects, including acting as project counsel during the redevelopment of the Royal Opera House in London, as well as defence-related projects, hotel projects and other commercial construction developments.

Professional / industry activity: Paul is activity engaged in relation to numerous industrial and / or legal organizations and societies. Paul has arranged and participated in several ICC international arbitration symposia on a variety of subjects: for example, in 2013, Paul organized an ICC symposium on the use of Dispute Boards in international construction projects, sharing the platform with well-known figures such as Chris Seppälä, Prof. Antonio Crivellaro, and Sir Vivian Ramsey. Paul also attends and speaks at International Bar Association conferences in relation to international construction law topics. Paul has also actively participated in conferences of the International Nuclear Law Association and given seminars for the Society of Construction Law (in the UK and the Gulf).  For many years, Paul has been a member of the Construction Committee of the City of London Law Society (in which he co-authored the standard form of novation agreement and accompanying guidance note), as well as the JCT Council and other JCT-related committees / groups.

Particular dispute resolution experience includes:

  • Uniquely extensive and detailed experience advising in respect of the design and construction of ‘new-build’ nuclear power stations;
  • Acting as Counsel in UNCITRAL arbitration proceedings in respect of disputes arising from the construction of a hydroelectric power plant in South America (including advocate in all procedural and substantive hearings);
  • Acting as Counsel in ICC arbitration proceedings in respect of disputes arising from land remediation works in Lebanon;
  • Providing advice and conducting ICC arbitration proceedings in respect of disputes arising from the construction of a high speed railway in Taiwan;
  • Advising on forms of contract and drafting, and providing project execution advice on problems, disputes and claims arising from the construction of an oil & gas production facility in Algeria;
  • Providing pre-arbitration advice in relation to disputes arising from the construction of a gas production facility in North Africa;
  • Advising and representing clients in relation to disputes concerning the design and construction of a new court building in London;
  • Providing advice and conducting UK arbitration proceedings in respect of disputes arising from the construction of a new government agency headquarters in Bristol;
  • Providing advice and multiple adjudications in respect of disputes concerning the design and construction of a new UK government immigration detention centre and its subsequent destruction by fire;
  • Advising in respect of disputes (pre-proceedings) arising from renovation works at the Royal Albert Hall;
  • Advising and adjudicating in a dispute arising from the construction of luxury residential property in West London;
  • Advising and adjudicating in multiple disputes arising from the renovation and hotel conversion of a UK country manor house;
  • Advising and adjudicating in a dispute arising from the design and construction of a new golf course and club house in the UK; and
  • Advising in respect of disputes arising from the construction of a new concert hall in Suffolk, UK.

Particular project development experience includes:

  • Leading the drafting and negotiation of a major new bridge crossing over the Niger delta, Nigeria;
  • Negotiating component contracts in respect of an international gas pipeline project;
  • Advising, negotiating and drafting in relation to the redevelopment of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden;
  • Negotiating and drafting building contracts and appointments for various office developments in the City of London, including utilizing two-stage tendering design and build contracting, guaranteed maximum price mechanisms and profit-sharing procedures;
  • Negotiating, drafting and advising in respect of a new company headquarters building in Folkestone, UK; and
  • Negotiating, drafting and advising in respect of school, hospital and prison PFI projects.

Areas of Expertise

Construction & Engineering
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“Someone who properly understands client relationships and can go well beyond legality into practicalities.” “A very strong draftsman and powerful in the courtroom.” – Chambers & Partners, 2017 (Construction)

‘He gets into the detail in a way few other counsel can.’ – Legal 500, 2016 (Construction)

‘Impressive technical knowledge and a very skilful advocate.’ – Legal 500, 2015 (Construction)

Paul is a leading specialist in international and national construction practice, based on 16 years of experience of advising on many of the world’s largest and highest-profile projects. In terms of international experience, Paul has advised and represented clients in relation to projects all over the world, with extensive experience in civil law jurisdictions. Alongside this, Paul retains a high profile in relation to UK construction law practice, reflected by his membership of the JCT Council (the body responsible for publishing the leading standard forms of construction contract in the UK) and his chairmanship of the JCT Construction Dispute Resolution Group.

Paul is particularly experienced in construction disputes, with long experience of both presenting and defending delay and disruption claims, as well as valuation disputes, defects claims, and other construction-related disputes (including associated warranties, bonds and guarantees).  Paul is experienced in all procedural settings for construction disputes, including international arbitration, dispute boards, adjudication, as well as national construction litigation in the English courts.

Paul is fully familiar with the principal standard forms of construction contracts used in international and national projects, notably the FIDIC forms of international contract and the JCT suite of standard forms used in the UK, as well as numerous bespoke contracts and construction agreements relating to all forms of construction procurement (from turnkey EPC, traditional, to construction management forms).

Paul has broad sector experience of construction projects, from large-scale power, oil & gas and major infrastructure projects, high-profile public projects (like the Royal Opera House redevelopment in London), as well as defence-related projects, hotel projects and other commercial construction developments.

Particular dispute resolution includes:

  • Uniquely extensive and detailed experience advising in respect of the design and construction of ‘new-build’ nuclear power stations;
  • Acting as Counsel in UNCITRAL arbitration proceedings in respect of disputes arising from the construction of a hydroelectric power plant in South America (including advocate in all procedural and substantive hearings);
  • Acting as Counsel in ICC arbitration proceedings in respect of disputes arising from land remediation works in Lebanon;
  • Providing advice and conducting ICC arbitration proceedings in respect of disputes arising from the construction of a high speed railway in Taiwan;
  • Advising on forms of contract and drafting, and providing project execution advice on problems, disputes and claims arising from the construction of an oil & gas production facility in Algeria;
  • Providing pre-arbitration advice in relation to disputes arising from the construction of a gas production facility in North Africa;
  • Advising and representing clients in relation to disputes concerning the design and construction of a new court building in London;
  • Providing advice and conducting UK arbitration proceedings in respect of disputes arising from the construction of a new government agency headquarters in Bristol;
  • Providing advice and multiple adjudications in respect of disputes concerning the design and construction of a new UK government immigration detention centre and its subsequent destruction by fire;
  • Advising in respect of disputes (pre-proceedings) arising from renovation works at the Royal Albert Hall;
  • Advising and adjudicating in a dispute arising from the construction of luxury residential property in West London;
  • Advising and adjudicating in multiple disputes arising from the renovation and hotel conversion of a UK country manor house;
  • Advising and adjudicating in a dispute arising from the design and construction of a new golf course and club house in the UK; and
  • Advising in respect of disputes arising from the construction of a new concert hall in Suffolk, UK.

Paul also has a great deal of experience advising clients on the drafting and negotiation of construction-related contracts (assisted by his wider experience of disputes and how these can develop from the original preparation of the contract documentation).

Particular project development experience includes:

  • Leading the drafting and negotiation of a major new bridge crossing over the Niger delta, Nigeria;
  • Negotiating contracts in respect of an international gas pipeline project;
  • Advising, negotiating and drafting in relation to the redevelopment of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden;
  • Negotiating and drafting building contracts and appointments for various office developments in the City of London, including utilizing two-stage tendering design and build contracting, guaranteed maximum price mechanisms and profit-sharing procedures;
  • Negotiating, drafting and advising in respect of a new company headquarters building in Folkestone, UK; and
  • Negotiating, drafting and advising in respect of school, hospital and prison PFI projects.

Paul is also an active member of the Society of Construction Law, having presented multiple seminars for the SCL in London and the Gulf, as well as regularly speaking on construction-related matters at other public seminars and conferences.  He is also a long-standing member of the Construction Committee of the City of London Law Society, in which he co-authored the CLLS standard form of novation agreement and the associated guidance note.

International Arbitration
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Paul has great experience representing clients and appearing as counsel in international arbitration hearings, including in ICC, LCIA, UNCITRAL and ad hoc arbitrations, with seats of arbitration in London and around the world, in relation to contracts governed by law from jurisdictions around the world (including extensive experience working in civil law jurisdictions).

Recent and / or current representation includes:

  • Advising in respect of the design and construction of nuclear power stations, including related long-standing representation in one of the world’s largest ICC arbitrations;
  • UNCITRAL arbitration proceedings in respect of disputes arising from the  construction of a hydroelectric power plant in South America (including advocate in all procedural and substantive hearings);
  • ICC arbitration proceedings in respect of disputes arising from land remediation works in Lebanon;
  • ICC arbitration proceedings in respect of disputes arising from the construction of a high speed railway in Taiwan;
  • Advising on disputes and claims arising from the construction of an oil & gas production facility in Algeria subject to ICC arbitration;
  • Advising on disputes arising from the construction of a gas production facility in North Africa subject to ICC arbitration;

Paul is also very active in the international arbitration community, including organizing and participating in major international arbitration symposia for the ICC in London in 2009 and 2013, as well as the International Bar Association.  This was reflected in Global Arbitration Review’s coverage of Paul’s move in May 2014 from White & Case LLP to 4 New Square.

Qualifications & Memberships

  • Member of JCT Council (representing construction clients)
  • Chairman of JCT Construction Dispute Resolution Group
  • Member of CIMAR Review Body
  • Member of City of London Law Society Construction Committee
  • Member of Society of Construction Law
  • Member of the International Bar Association
  • Member of International Nuclear Law Association
  • Member of Nuclear Industry Association

Major Scholarship – Inner Temple, 1995/1996, LLB (Hons), University College, University of Durham, 1995

Publications

VAT registration number: 189466644