George McDonald has a broad commercial practice, with a particular focus on construction and costs litigation.
George is ranked as a Leading Junior by Chambers & Partners, Legal 500 and Who’s Who Legal. They quote solicitors:
- “George is immensely clever: he has an intellect that far outstretches my own on cases that I’ve had for a while. He’ll always come in with a fresh thought.”
- “The “absolutely exceptional” George McDonald is an expert on a wide range of construction matters, including PFI disputes”.
- “Fantastic to work with, he’s professional, enthusiastic, detailed and highly knowledgeable.”
- “Quick on his feet, he’s a very clear and concise advocate, who is highly approachable.”
- “Combines an exceptional intellect with an approachable manner”
- “A very pleasant and very likeable chap.”
- “Full of fresh ideas and always responsive.”
- “Approachable, excellent on his feet, and superb in his written work.”
- “He is extremely easy to work with, client-friendly and he combines good judgment with pragmatic advice.”
- “Extremely strong on paper and brilliant on his feet”
- “He knows costs inside out, always provides pragmatic advice and achieves fantastic results.”
- “George McDonald is a go-to barrister for contract and procurement-related construction and engineering disputes”.
- “He’s good on his feet, excellent on paper and always ready to pick up the phone.”
- “George is very user-friendly, is well liked by judges, good with clients and someone who doesn’t get bogged down in unnecessary, trivial points.”
- “Excellent on his feet and on paper.”
- “Highly sought after for group claims.”
George has considerable experience of construction disputes, and in particular cases relating to government contracts. Examples of George’s work include:
- Multiple disputes arising from a £2 billion PFI contract for the repair and maintenance of the Birmingham road network (led by Anneliese Day QC). George acted for the successful appellant to the Court of Appeal, who decided all issues in his client’s favour.
- A complex claim in arbitration worth in excess of £100 million (led by Roger Stewart QC) relating to a nuclear facilities project in Scotland.
- Multiple disputes relating to a £6 billion PFI contract for the management of a major UK motorway (led by Anneliese Day QC).
- Claims for termination of a 25 year PFI contract worth £800 million for the construction and management of a waste facility in Essex (led by Anneliese Day QC and then Roger Stewart QC).
- As sole counsel on disputes about a £25 million PFI contract for the repair, management and servicing of fire stations across the county of Cornwall.
- A claim for £7 million for delays in reinstating a well-known property following a massive fire (led by Patrick Lawrence QC).
- Disputes relating to a 60 year PFI contract for the construction and management of a major UK hospital (led by Anneliese Day QC).
- Disputes worth in excess of £200 million relating to the compensation on termination payable for termination of a 30 year PFI contract for the construction and management of an Energy from Waste facility (led by Roger Stewart QC).
- Claims arising from the Buncefield fire (led by Jalil Asif QC).
- As sole counsel on disputes about the proper interpretation of cost-sharing provisions in a 25 year PFI contract relating to a waste facility in North Yorkshire.
- Disputes relating to a renowned project in Russia (led by Roger Stewart QC).
- Advising on expert issues in the Multiplex litigation relating to the construction of Wembley stadium (led by Roger Stewart QC).
George also acts on general commercial matters, including international arbitration, professional negligence, IT and telecommunications, financial services and insurance disputes. Examples of George’s work include:
- Acting as sole counsel on a claim for $588 million relating to the financing of a massive mining plant in Minnesota.
- Acting for claimant solar power companies in claims worth around £200 million against the government in relation to energy tariffs, named as one of the Lawyer’s “cases of the year” in 2018 (led by Patrick Lawrence QC).
- Advising on disputes relating to a novel £25 million contract for the installation of cheque-scanning and telecommunication facilities for a consortium of banks (led by Roger Stewart QC).
- Appearing as sole counsel in a claim worth £1 billion relating to the collapse of a Greek telecoms company on behalf of litigation funders.
- Acting as sole counsel for a well-known hotel chain on a claim in arbitration worth in excess of $50 million.
- Acting for the defendant solicitors in Cherney v Neuman  EWHC 2156 (Ch) and successfully resisting the £15 million claim by the Russian oligarch (led by Justin Fenwick QC).
- Acting for Axa insurance (led by Ben Hubble QC) in the multi-party CLE litigation relating to the collapse of ATE insurance schemes.
- Acting for the defendant claims-handlers (led by Graeme MacPherson QC) in Markerstudy Insurance Company Limited v Endsleigh Insurance Services Limited.
- Advising well-known financial headhunters in claims arising from the financial crisis (led by Justin Fenwick QC).
- For the Ministry of Defence in claims arising from the termination of a 25 year contract for an education facility.
- Acting for a major contractor in a £40 million insurance claim following a construction project (led by Roger Stewart QC).
- Assisting a solicitor’s firm with the insurance position following the fallout from the Madoff scandal.
George spent 3 months in Hong Kong for the prestigious Pegasus Scholarship, which included helping the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre with a number of construction arbitrations and drafting guidance to be published on their arbitration rules.
In costs, George has been instructed on some of the seminal costs cases, both on his own account and as a junior. George has particular experience of group litigation and class/representative actions, including:
- For the claimants in the well-known Air Cargo Cartel litigation.
- For the claimants in the multi-billion pound litigation relating to FX manipulation by leading banks.
- For the claimants in one of the largest product liability claims ever brought, the Depuy Pinnacle Metal on Metal Hip Litigation.
- For a claimant group in the VW litigation relating to the installation of defeat devices.
- For a claimant group in the “Trucks” competition litigation.
- Advising a large African community of over 40,000 in their claims against a major oil company.
- For the claimants in the “Trains” competition litigation.
- Advising 365 local authorities in competition claims brought by hundreds of search companies.
- Acting for the thousands of ex-servicemen in claims against the MoD in the “Military Deafness” litigation.
- For the hundreds of victims of sexual and physical abuse by gangs in Rotherham in their claims against the local authority.
- For a claimant group in the “Roll-On/Roll-Off” competition litigation.
- For millions of potential claimants in various representatives actions relating to data breaches.
- Acting for the hundreds of claimant ex-workers in the Phurnacite litigation.
- For the claimants in the Kenyan Emergency Group Litigation, in claims against the UK government arising out of the Mau Mau uprising.
- For a large African community for damages suffered as a result of copper-mining activities in Zambia;
- For the claimants in the Mastercard litigation relating to fixing of inter-change fees.
- For the hundreds of claimants in the Royal Mail Group Litigation relating to recovery of VAT charges exceeding £500 million.
- For the local community in a proposed group action for environmental nuisance arising from a large waste facility in the UK.
George also has considerable experience of dealing with the costs of media litigation, including as cost counsel for the Mirror Newspaper in the phone hacking group litigation and for the BBC in the well-publicised claim by Sir Cliff Richard for invasion of privacy. He is instructed by some of the leading media outlets, including Express Newspapers, Associated Newspapers, News Group Newspapers, Mirror Group Newspapers, BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5.
George also acts in important cases for costs litigation or that are in the public eye. Examples are the Debenhams insolvency litigation; the “X passports” litigation against the government; a rare successful appeal on hourly rates in Kelly v Hays Plc  EWHC 735 (QB); the novel points of law relating to costs budgets in the leading case of Elvanite v AMEC Earth & Environmental (UK) Ltd  EWHC 1643 (TCC); the important solicitor-client dispute of Assaubayev v Michael Wilson & Partners, Ltd with Nicholas Bacon QC in the Court of Appeal; for William Hill in the assessment of Betfair’s costs for the judicial review of the Horseracing Levy; as sole counsel in the Court of Appeal on the seminal case on interest and Part 36 offers, King v City of London Corporation.
George also advises on all aspects of litigation funding. He advises solicitors, third party funders, ATE providers and clients about the relevant structures. He has put together the funding documents in many of the major pieces of group litigation and class actions involving third party funding. George also advised on one of the largest UK mergers of solicitors’ firms and appeared as sole counsel for a third party funder in a claim for over £1 billion.
In other matters, for 3 months in late 2009 George went on secondment to the Financial Services Authority, in their General Counsel’s Division. George advised the FSA on the implementation of recent amending EU Directives (in particular to the Capital Adequacy Directive and the Banking Consolidation Directive) and drafted the relevant text for the FSA’s amended Handbook. George was also Judicial Assistant to Lord Justice Dyson in the Court of Appeal for two terms in 2009.
For his education, George originally studied Mathematics and Philosophy at Worcester College, Oxford University. He obtained a first in his Honour Moderations and was awarded a Worcester College Scholarship. He subsequently changed to read Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (‘PPE’) and graduated with a first, completing the full degree in two years. George thereafter took the CPE and BVC and is a member of Lincoln’s Inn, where he received the Hardwicke and Shelford Scholarships.