Ben Patten KC’s expertise lies in a range of commercial work, including construction disputes, professional liability claims, commercial litigation and insurance and reinsurance disputes.
Described as “calm under pressure and always willing to stick his neck out on a case” he acts for both claimants and defendants in the TCC, Commercial and Mercantile Courts, Queen’s Bench Division, Chancery Division and Arbitrations. He also appears in the Court of Appeal and in expert determinations, mediations and other ADR hearings.
Chambers and Partners has described Ben as greatly respected for his effective manner in court, “he has a very nice way of presenting an argument which appeals to judges hugely,” and his ‘good commercial instincts’. ‘Peers are impressed by his skills as an advocate generally, and particularly note his strength in solicitor negligence cases’ as well as the “incredibly calm,” “persuasive” approach he demonstrates in his construction and professional indemnity work for a client base of developers, contractors and insurers. Previous editions says of him “You can throw anything his way and he will deal with it.” “He has a mild and gentle manner with clients, but is determined and clear in his advice. He is also very effective as an advocate, as he’s calm but good at focusing on the right issues and directing judges’ attention to them.” “Technically he’s one of the best around. He is also highly responsive.” Ben is also rated as a leading Silk by the Legal 500.
Ben has also been described in the Directories as being “really at the top of his game”, “a top performer who has a very concise and effective drafting, advisory and advocacy style” and “a star of the future”. In 2009, the year before he took Silk, he was awarded Chambers and Partners Professional Negligence Junior of the Year.
A team player, Ben’s style is to roll up his sleeves and get involved. He has considerable experience of very substantial commercial litigation, including group actions and the larger TCC cases. He is relaxed and approachable, whilst at the same time being businesslike and tenacious in pursuing the best outcome for the client. He has a keen sense of the client’s commercial interests and can cut through the complexities of a difficult case to get to the heart of the issues.
Ben is the author of “Professional Negligence in Construction” [Spon] 2003, a co-editor of the Construction Professionals Chapter in “Jackson & Powell” and a co-editor of the Solicitors’ Chapter in the Professional Negligence and Liability Looseleaf. He is also a frequent lecturer and author of legal articles. Ben is a member of TECBAR, COMBAR, the Professional Negligence Bar Association and the London Common Law & Commercial Bar Association. He has also been called to the Bar in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and has acted as an arbitrator.
“Ben is very client-friendly and can distil complex issues into an easy to understand opinion, which makes clients use him time and time again. He is very commercial in his approach. He knows this area inside and out and he is one of our go to Silks for this type of work.” – Legal 500, 2022
“He is excellent to work with and always on top of his game.” “He comes out with strong advice and cuts through a dispute to get a simple solution.” –Chambers & Partners, 2022
“Eloquent and bright, very good in conference with clients.” – Legal 500, 2020
“A legal heavyweight, exceptionally bright and very impressive.” “He has a superb combination of construction and professional negligence expertise. He is exceptionally good, so easy to get on with, hard-working and dedicated.” “Very detail-oriented and a superb cross-examiner.” – Chambers & Partners, 2020
“Gets to speed quickly with the papers and excellent at drafting submissions.” – Legal 500, 2019
“Great to work with, very good with clients and commercially astute.” “He’s thorough and has a good cross-examination style.” – Chambers & Partners, 2019
Recognised as a Leading Construction Silk by both the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners. Ben has very considerable experience in construction and engineering disputes. He has appeared in a wide range of cases in the TCC, Arbitrations, Adjudications and the Court of Appeal. He has been described in Chambers and Partners as being greatly respected by clients for being ‘”very easy to engage with and always provides sound commercial advice,” “he is amazingly calm under pressure, which gives the entire team confidence,” and for having a“way of presenting an argument which appeals to judges hugely,” and “incredibly calm,” “persuasive” approach; “a top performer who has a very concise and effective drafting, advisory and advocacy style“; “technically he’s one of the best around. He is also highly responsive”, “he is efficient, very clever and knows his stuff.” “He has the trust of judges: he never makes a bad point or overblows a submission.”
Recent and current cases
Recent and current international cases
Experience in PFI and related areas:
“A go-to leader on high-value claims.” “Probably one of the most learned counsel at the Bar. He’s a terribly hard-working and terribly conscientious leader.” –Chambers & Partners, 2022
“Excellent judgement and very easy to deal with.” – Legal 500, 2020
“He is very good at distilling the detail when there are reams of information to dig through, to move the case forward successfully.” “He is excellent: quick, confident and approachable. He has the ability to make complicated elements very simple.” – Chambers & Partners, 2020
“He is very forensic and takes points in a measured but persuasive way. Clients really respect and trust him.” “He’s a very clear advocate and an extremely courteous opponent, and you can tell the judge has real confidence in him.” – Chambers & Partners, 2020
“He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject matter, coupled with a fantastic advocacy style. Like a university professor when he needs to be, but then a street fighter when that’s appropriate. Watching his advocacy was a masterclass.” “He is excellent on detail and provides good, practical advice.” – Chambers & Partners, 2019
“He provides strong and decisive advice” – Legal 500, 2019
Ben has acted in many claims against accountants and auditors, including claims for negligent audit work, negligent preparation, review and audit of management accounts and negligent advice (including negligent tax advice, both corporate and personal).
“He has been very impressive.” “He is good on paper, very concise and clear.” – Chambers & Partners 2019 – Professional Negligence: Technology & Construction
“A real stalwart in the field. What Ben doesn’t know about professional negligence isn’t worth knowing.” “A very clever, fast and impressive advocate. He is very crisp and develops a good rapport with the judge. He’s three jumps ahead.” – Chambers & Partners 2018 – Professional Negligence: Technology & Construction
Ben has very extensive experience of acting both for and against architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and project managers. He also has experience of acting for specialist construction concerns such as demolition contractors and contractors carrying out asbestos works where “professional liability” issues often arise. He appears regularly in cases involving construction professionals in the TCC and in Arbitrations. He has considerable experience of construction professional indemnity insurance issues and contribution disputes.
Ben regularly acts both for and against Insurance Brokers in relation to disputes arising out of coverage difficulties.
Ben has extensive experience of appearing both for and against claimants and defendants in cases involving barristers and solicitors. He has acted in some of the largest and most important disputes concerning lawyers in recent years, including the TAG litigation and the Levicom case. He recently successfully defended Eversheds in a multi-million pound claim brought by Newcastle Airport, winning both at first instance and in the Court of Appeal. He has covered most aspects of lawyer’s negligence including claims arising from commercial, corporate and property transactions, claims arising from mortgage work and other aspects of lending transactions and claims arising from litigation. He has particular experience in disputes arising from, and difficulties arising in relation to, solicitors’ professional indemnity insurance and is experienced in dealing with dishonesty issues. He is a a co-editor of the solicitors chapter in the Professional Negligence and Liability Looseleaf.
Ben frequently acts both for and against surveyors and valuers in cases concerning all aspects of property valuation and particularly in cases relating to commercial lending and mortgage fraud.
Ben has substantial experience of commercial litigation in the Commercial Court, the Mercantile Courts and in arbitrations. He has being involved in a number of share sale warranty disputes, sale of goods disputes, disputes concerning licensing agreements and disputes concerning employment and restraint of trade.
Featured Commercial Dispute Resolution cases
Ben is frequently involved in insurance disputes, both in the Commercial and Mercantile Courts and in arbitrations. Many of these disputes arise out of other areas of his practice and in particular he is experienced in disputes concerning Contractors All Risks policies and Professional Indemnity policies.
Featured Insurance & Reinsurance cases
Ben’s main expertise lies in construction law and in particular in large construction projects with spin off financial claims. These include: gas pipelines; airport terminal buildings; office developments; airport runways; roads and bridges. He has experience in many different forms of construction contract and most commonly encountered construction issues, including: delay and disruption; variations; defects; certification and partnering. He is also experienced in issues concerning funding arrangements, guarantees and bonds.
Current and recent International Arbitration cases
National Infrastructure Development Co v BNP Paribas
In this case, which is one of a number actions taken by NIDCO to enforce standby letters of credit, Ben acted for the corporate construction arm of Trinidad and Tobago to enforce on-demand bonds to the value of nearly US$59 million. The defendant bank claimed (unsuccessfully) that it was not require to pay by reason of a Brazilian injunction. The case citation is  EWHC 2508 (Comm).
S v H
This is a dispute between a US based turnkey manufacturer of specialist plant and a Swiss company concerning the design, installation and construction of a manufacturing plant in Germany. The legal issues concern contractual obligations, including responsibility for regulatory delays. The value of the claim is still being ascertained but the contract value is in excess of US$60m. The arbitration is conducted under ICC auspices (the law of the Contract is Swiss law). Ben acts for the US concern.
N v F
This was a very substantial dispute concerning a development project in Moscow. Ben acted as one of two leading counsel for one of the parties. The issues concern fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, contractual interpretation, causation and valuation. The claim was put at more than US$500m.
U v A
A series of disputes (some of which were referred to the LCIA) concerning a series of projects and related financial arrangements concerning the development of 8 tower blocks and a separate residential project in Doha, Qatar. The total quantum of the claims exceeded US$100m. Ben acted for the Qatari developer. There were three sets of related proceedings taking place in London and Doha. The Qatari and LCIA proceedings raised issues of contractual construction, bilateral obligations and commercial fraud. Proceedings before the Commercial Court concerned funding arrangements and claims by lenders against the developer. The issues in that claim concerned (1) forum; (2) proper law; (3) issues of agency and authority under Qatari law (4) compromise and ratification and (5) frustration/impossibility. The claim was for repayment of debt obligations in excess of $US35m.
T v N
Ben was engaged in a series of disputes (one of which has been litigated in the Dubai World Tribunal at the DIFC) between a Cypriot contractor and the developer of the Palm in Dubai. The issues concerned extension of time and claims for loss and expense. The value of the claims was very substantial.
E v A
Ben acted for an international construction consultancy concerning loans made to the developer of a mixed use development in Armenia. The allegations concerned project management and monitoring (in particular, alleged failure to detect mismanagement on the part of the developer and to identify likely cost overrun). The value of this LCIA claim was alleged to be in the region of US $25m. In addition to technical issues relating to the project, the issues of law concern the proper extent of a monitoring consultant’s duties and the role of contributory fault by the lender.
W v W
This was a dispute concerning the construction of a gas pipeline through Nigeria and other West African states. The contractor’s contract was terminated for alleged non-performance, although the contractor contended that the employer had failed to pay its contractual entitlements. The legal issues concerned the true construction of termination clauses, limitation on liability clauses and liquidated and ascertained damages clauses. More general issues concerned delays, extensions of time and defects. There were substantial practical issues concerning discovery from the parties’ different manifestations in a number of different jurisdictions. Approximate claim value $120m. Ben acted for the contractor.
SG v KT
This was a dispute brought by a UK dependency against a firm of architects over the design, project management and contract administration of a project to construct a new airport terminal building. Legal issues concerned conflicts of law and jurisdiction between the law of the dependency and the law of the reference and issues over enforcement of interim awards. The more general issue in the case concerned alleged design defects, design coordination between different members of the design team, inspection of contractors’ works, delay and reporting of cost overruns. Approximate claim value £15m. Ben acted for the architect.
C v P
This was a dispute concerning the adequacy of the design and construction of the concrete framework for a combined office and residential development in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. The legal issues concerned the proper interpretation of the contract as to the priority of contract documents and the meaning of the variations clauses. General issues concerned design responsibility, defects, extensions of time and loss and expense payments. Approximate claim value €6m. Ben acted for the contractor.
I v C
This is a dispute between an African construction company and a US based design and build contractor concerning the construction of two power generating plants in Liberia. The legal issues concerned alleged misrepresentation, the true meaning of the contract, causes of delay and entitlement to repudiate. The value of the claim was said to be just under US$10m. The arbitration is conducted under ICC auspices. Ben acts for the design and build contractor.
Ben acts as an arbitrator and mediator in construction disputes. He recently acted in a mediation between four parties in relation to a construction project in Northern Ireland.
Ben is an accredited mediator and has mediated a range of disputes including:
In addition to mediation, Ben has acted as a conciliator under forms of contract made in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. He has a very “hands on” approach to mediation and likes to engage with the parties both before and (if appropriate) after the day of the mediation so as to ensure that the parties have the maximum prospect of achieving benefit out of the mediation.
63 members of 4 New Square Chambers have been ranked in the…
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