Steve Nichol represents clients operating in the construction and engineering industries on a range of contentious and non-contentious matters. Mr. Nichol has considerable experience advising clients in relation to the full spectrum of disputes in these sectors, with a particular focus on technically complex construction and engineering disputes. Mr. Nichol’s experience covers disputes of varying sizes and complexity across a broad range of industry sectors and sub-sectors, with a particular focus on transport, infrastructure, energy and building. His clients cover the full range of industry professionals, from niche suppliers and subcontractors to multinational developers, manufacturers and joint ventures, spanning the UK, Europe, the US, the Middle East and further afield.
Mr. Nichol is well versed in managing international arbitrations around the globe, including major projects in the UK, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Gulf, the Caribbean, the Indian sub-continent and the Asia-Pacific region. He has a close familiarity with a wide range of seats and rules, including those of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR), and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). Mr. Nichol also has strong experience of arbitrations under bilateral investment treaties and other international instruments.
As well as conventional dispute resolution methods, Mr. Nichol’s experience extends to all forms of alternative dispute resolution proceedings, including adjudication, mediation, expert determination and the resolution of claims under UK Pre-Action Protocols.
Alongside his contentious practice, Mr. Nichol provides support and advice to clients throughout the project life cycle. Mr. Nichol draws upon his extensive experience of construction and engineering disputes to provide sensible, pragmatic and realistic risk avoidance and risk management advice to clients through the bidding and contract formation stages of each project, and establishes practical solutions to problems as and when they arise, to avoid disputes before they occur.
Mr. Nichol has been recommended by The Legal 500, particularly for his work in the rail sector.
Areas of Practice
Construction and Engineering Law
- England and Wales
- BPP Law School, LPC (Merit), 2004
- Duane Morris
- Partner, 2020-present
- Trowers & Hamlins LLP
- Partner, 2004-2019
Technology and Construction Solicitors Association
Society of Construction Law
- Contributor, Duane Morris London Blog
- Quoted, "Legal Notes: British Court Looks Contractual Duty of Care in the Eye and Declines to Fill Gaps," Daily Commercial News, June 23, 2021
- Contributor, Duane Morris Construction Law Blog
- Quoted, "COVID-19 Based Contractual Rows Not Inevitable, Claim Lawyers," New Civil Engineer, March 16, 2020
Selected Speaking Engagements
- Speaker, "A Guide for International Construction Companies to Dispute Resolution in Egypt," HKA, Webinar, November 3, 2020
- Presenter, "Impact of COVID-19 on the Energy Industry: Preparing for the Aftermath," The Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILAC), Webinar, May 7, 2020
Advised a litigation funder in respect of its potential funding of proposed claims by a Turkish construction company, against the African State of Libya, associated with various road projects in Libya built by the contractor for the government, which had been disrupted by the Libyan civil war.
Advised a consortium of international contractors in relation to a major motorway resurfacing project in the UK, which was delayed due to unforeseen access restrictions as well as a major design change at one of the junctions.
Advised a main contractor in relation to claims against a Danish Insurer relating to various credit insurance policies. The underlying project concerned civil engineering highway works in the Caribbean, and was the subject of high-court proceedings issued in London.
Advised a leading international contractor in relation to disputes arising out of the construction of a major new bypass in the UK. The project was subject to significant delays and cost overruns due to issues with the initial modelling prepared on behalf of the employer, including in particular in respect of the earthworks required for the foundations of a bridge forming part of the bypass.
Advised an international contractor in respect of disputes with main contractor and local government on two separate major road building schemes in the Caribbean (I.C.E. 6th Edition Contract Conditions), valued at in excess of US$20m.
Advised a consortium of international contractors in relation to the construction of a major new motorway in western Europe. Progress was delayed due to significant unexpected archaeological discoveries during initial excavation, which led to a €40m claim against the local government.
Acted for a UK based contractor in relation to the redevelopment of a significant part of the dilapidated road network on a Caribbean island, where completion was delayed by over 18 months for reasons outside the client's control.
Acted for a UK local authority in relation to a dispute with a leading international contractor concerning the redevelopment of a key junction on the UK’s motorway network. Disputes arose due to changes in the design during the construction phase due to issues with the initial 3D modelling.
Advised a consortium of UK and international contractors in relation to the construction of part of a major new rail link in the UK. Progress of the works was delayed, and significant cost increases incurred, primarily due to unexpected ground conditions and access restrictions necessitating resequencing of the works.
Advised a consortium of leading UK and international contractors in relation to multiple contracts for upgrade works to several major arterial lines in the UK.
Advised a leading international consultancy in relation to disputes arising from the collapse of a tunnel over an active railway line in the UK, in respect of which the client was providing supervisory and clerk of works services.
Advised a leading international contractor in relation to signalling and cabling upgrade works on part of the London Underground network. Disputes arose due to delays and cost overruns incurred primarily to limitations on site possessions imposed by the employer.
Advised a contractor acting as primary subcontractor in relation to a power upgrade project for the London Underground, to recover additional costs incurred due to major design changes imposed by the ultimate client, for which the client sought relief.
Advised a consortium of leading UK and international contractors in relation to the consortium’s contract for upgrade works to a major arterial line in the UK. Completion was delayed by over two years, and additional costs of over £100m incurred, due to design delays and access restrictions imposed by the client.
Acted for a leading international contractor in relation to disputes arising out of a project for the relocation of power, cabling and signalling infrastructure for a section of the UK rail network. The project was ancillary to a parallel infrastructure project procured by the local authority, and disputes between the local authority and the employer resulted in the employer withdrawing possessions from the client for their works.
Acted for a leading European locomotive manufacturer in defending allegations of defects in over 400 locomotives sold by the clients to their leading customer. The matter was the subject of proceedings in the TCC in London, and involved comprehensive technical analysis of the operation, maintenance and performance of locomotives in 11 different European jurisdictions.
Advised a leading supplier of rolling stock in the UK in defence of allegations that defective cabling installed on over 4,000 passenger cars were causing doors to open whilst in transit.
Advised a leading European locomotive manufacturer in respect of its claims against a leading US engine manufacturer associated with defects in over 1,000 engines supplies by the manufacturer for installation in the client’s locomotives.
Advised the parent company of a specialist locomotive manufacturer in relation to a dispute regarding the parent company’s obligations under the terms of a guarantee. The matter was heard in Part 8 Proceedings in the Chancery Division of the High Court. The case, which was determined in favour of the clients, is now recognised as a leading authority on the subject of the interpretation of guarantees (Vossloh Aktiengesellschaft v Alpha Trains (UK) Ltd).
Advised an international contractor on a payment dispute with the employer arising from an extensive civils project at a new airport in Asia, awarded under an amended FIDIC contract.
Advised an international contractor in relation to its contract for runway resurfacing works at a commercial airport in Western Europe, where cracking, subsidence and ponding discovered was after completion of the works.
Advised a UK airport in relation to a major upgrade project to the airport which had encountered significant delays and cost overruns.
Advised an international contractor acting as part of a joint venture in relation to the construction of a new airport in Asia, including in relation to potential bilateral investment treaty claims.
Advised a main contractor in dispute with its employer associated with the redevelopment of a major UK port, where works had proceeded under a series of letters of intent pending receipt of funding from the European Commission.
Acted for a leading international contractor in relation to disputes valued at approximately £50m arising out of the construction of a new guided busway in the UK. Claims and cross-claims related to design changes, alleged defects, possession limitations, liquidated damages and variations.
Advised a leading international constactor in relation to the procurement and management of a project for the construction of a (second) guided busway in the UK.
Representing a leading US contractor in an arbitration under local law and rules, involving claims and counterclaims totalling approximately US$100m, arising out of a Regasification project in Asia.
Acted for a Danish contractor appointed as main contractor in the construction of a new gas pipeline in eastern Europe, in relation to arbitration proceedings against both the owner and the subcontractor under ICC rules, seated in London, valued at approximately US$35m.
Advised an international contractor, acting as part of a joint venture, in relation to its claims amounting to approximately US$20m against the owner (a government subsidiary) associated with a gas transportation project in the Indian sub-continent.
Represented a US construction company in proceedings in the TCC in London concerning its claims (valued at approximately £15m) against a Kazakhstani company under a parent company guarantee, arising in relation to the construction of a major new gas facility in Asia.
Advised a UK engineering company in relation to the management of its risk profile associated with a BOO contract for a new petrochemical refinery in the Middle East.
Advised a leading UK contractor in relation to its contracts for the construction and operation of three major new energy from waste facilities in the UK, including extensive advice on legislative changes that fundamentally altered the pricing structure of each of the three facilities.
Advised a leading international contractor in relation to disputes arising from the discovery of cracking in the concrete foundations of a new onshore wind farm designed and built by the client.
Instructed by a concrete frame sub-contractor in relation to a dispute arising out of a £75m mixed-use development in central Birmingham, ultimately involving nine adjudications, two sets of enforcement proceedings, Part 8 Proceedings and a mediation, all within a 14 month period.
Advised a leading international construction company in relation to the settlement and management of its risk profile associated with the construction of a major new mixed-use development above a major UK rail hub.
Advised a leading international contractor in relation to a project for the renovation of a major UK hospital, including advice in relation to disputes arising due to alleged defects in the external cladding and window systems that ultimately resulted in all of the windows being replaced.
Advised an international construction company in relation to its contracts for the construction of three new schools in the Middle East.
Advised a local authority in relation to major design defects in the roof of a new school constructed in the UK.
Advised a UK local authority in relation to its programme for the removal and replacement of combustible cladding on five residential tower blocks, procured under a unique PFI arrangement, in one of the largest cases to arise out of fire safety investigations post-Grenfell.
Advised a UK housing association in respect of defective cladding installed on a large residential tower block in the UK, including in respect of its claims for government funding.
Advising the UK government agency responsible for providing funding to social housing providers to replace ACM cladding on its funding arrangements with those providers.
Advised an international cladding consultancy on its potential liability arising out of a fire in a residential tower block in the UAE, in respect of which the client had provided design review and other consultancy services to the main contractor.
Acted for an unincorporated joint venture between two leading international construction companies that had been employed to carry out the design and construction of a new hospital in an urban location in the UK.
Acted for a leading international construction company employed to carry out the design and construction of a major new residential development in the UK, that encountered extensive water ingress through the entire façade that caused significant damage to the internal fit out and delays to completion.
Advised a UK main contractor in respect of a well-publicised restructuring of the Group which sparked significant media attention. Also advised on issues arising over bonds, dealt with negotiations with each bondsman and advised on the creation of further encumbrances and counter-indemnities.