Dr Cyril Chern has over 40+ years experience in his specialism of international infrastructure engineering and construction matters including those in the United Kingdom, the European Union, the Middle East, the Far East and the Americas. Typical project types include hydroelectric power and nuclear facilities, water treatment facilities, roads projects, bridges, tunnels, facility and processing development, PPP and PFI projects. In addition to being a Barrister he is a trained Structural Engineer, Chartered Architect, Chartered Arbitrator, Accredited Mediator and Adjudicator and Dispute Board specialist.
Education and Professional Memberships/Qualifications
- BArch in Architecture and Engineering
- Juris Doctor – Law
- FIDIC President’s List of Approved Dispute Adjudicators
- Fellow of the Dispute Board Federation (FDBF)
- Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
- Chartered Arbitrator
- Accredited Adjudicator
- Accredited Mediator
- Member of the Association of Consultancy and Engineering
- Institution of Civil Engineers – Dispute Board Panel
- Society of Construction Arbitrators UK
- The Bar of England and Wales
- The Bar of the United States Supreme Court
- Ship’s Master – Merchant Navy (ret).
- Freeman City of London
- Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects
- Dispute Board Trainer - International Chamber of Commerce, DBF and FIDIC rules and procedures
- Member of the Civil Mediation Council, United Kingdom
- Listed in Who’s Who – since its 165th Annual Edition, Oxford University Press 2013
His practice specialises in major construction cases with complex construction and engineering issues. His principal field of work is in Dispute Boards, usually as Chair, arbitrator and/or adjudicator of construction and engineering claims, or Mediator, specifically on complex construction/engineering projects.
Dispute Boards and Adjudications
Dr Chern’s major focus is in the field of Dispute Boards in the areas of heavy construction, infrastructure development, and civil engineering. He has also been instructed as counsel in ICC arbitrations and is frequently selected as an arbitrator on ICC Construction arbitrations arising out of Dispute Board decisions taken to the ICC. He has specialist knowledge of construction adjudication, acting either as a Dispute Board member, adjudicator or as counsel. He is only one of 40 FIDIC President’s List Adjudicators worldwide and only 1 of 3 to head the Assessment Panel for the FIDIC President’s List.
His experience in Dispute Boards (in particular, service on Dispute Adjudication Boards, DRB, DAB, CDB) is on large infrastructure projects such as hydroelectric and nuclear facilities, dams, roads, bridges, and tunnels. He has served as member (18) and chairman (212) on 230 dispute boards for contracts covering traditional, design and construct, and turnkey contracts and is familiar with all relevant Dispute Board rules and procedures including the World Bank Harmonised, FIDIC, ICE, DBF, and ICC Dispute Board Rules.
Additionally he is an instructor in the subject, is the author of Chern on Dispute Boards (1st Edition 2007, 2nd Edition 2011 Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 3rd Edition 2014 Informa, and 4th Edition 2019 Informa) and is an accreditor of Dispute Board Members for both FIDIC and the DBF.
In addition to his Dispute Board work he has acted as an adjudicator and given over 200 decisions (including 137 decisions given under UK statutory adjudication schemes as well as in Hong Kong, China, India, Pakistan, Japan, South America, and elsewhere). He is familiar with ICE, TeCSA, JCT, ACE (CIC), Scheme for Construction Contracts and other Adjudication rules. No decision has been overturned at arbitration. He is experienced in World Bank/FIDIC conditions, the UK Construction Act 1996, statutory schemes and associated amendments to most major standard form contracts. Dr Chern is also experienced in the drafting and interpretation of contractual provisions and procedures for arbitration, adjudication and Dispute Boards.
Construction Mediations and Arbitrations
Dr Chern is considered an expert in construction and engineering mediation and arbitration claims, which have involved issues under a wide variety of standard forms (FIDIC, ICE (traditional and NEC), JTC, IMechE/IEE Model Form “A”, BPF/ACA, FCEC, GCWorks, ACE, HKGov, World Bank) and bespoke contracts as well. He is experienced in mediation claims dealing with structural engineering, bridges, tunnels, road works, aircraft hangers, life-safety systems, dams, nuclear and hydroelectric facilities. He has extensive experience dealing with disputes involving matters such as differing site conditions, payment provisions, measurement, valuation, construction quality, design obligations, delay and disruption, time extensions, prolongation, prevention, breach of contract, contract interpretation, conflicting documentation, back-to-back agreements, scope of services, final account, price escalation, conflict of laws, concession agreements, and related matters.
Dr Chern has acted as mediator on over 303 complex domestic and international construction and engineering disputes of which all were settled as a direct result of the mediation process. He has also acted on behalf of parties to mediation. Additionally, he teaches mediation methods and techniques on behalf of the Bar Council of England & Wales, the World Bank, the IFC, and the Dispute Board Federation.
Acting as arbitrator, he has in excess of 625 references (UK, USA, Canada, Hong Kong, South America, Middle East, China and Japan) under institutional and ad hoc procedures. These disputes include main contract, subcontract and professional services disputes involving amounts up to EUR 15000 million (EUR 15 Billion) arising under traditional, design/build and concession contracts. No Awards have been reversed on enforcement. He has served as sole arbitrator and on tribunals (as party-appointed member and Chairman) under ICE, ICC, AAA, UNCITRAL, LCIA and ad hoc arbitration procedures and is familiar with the arbitration rules and procedures of the ICE, ICC, LCIA, UNCITRAL, ClArb, CIMAR, HKIAC, RICS, and SIAC.
- Chern on Dispute Boards (Blackwell Publishing, 1st Edition 2007, 2nd Edition 2011, Routledge Publishing, 3rd Edition 2014 Informa Publishing, 4th Edition 2019 Informa Publishing)
- International Commercial Mediation (Informa, 2008)
- The Commercial Mediator’s Handbook (Informa - Routledge, 2014)
- The Law of Construction Disputes (Informa, 1st Edition 2010, 2nd Edition 2016, 3rd Edition 2019)
- Contributor: Atkin’s Encyclopaedia of Court Forms in Civil Proceedings (LexisNexis, 2008)
- Nuclear Power Plant Development (Informa 2021)
In addition to his publications he teaches the Dispute Board course for the World Bank/IFC, FIDIC and the Dispute Board Federation as well as the comprehensive FIDIC contracts course and commercial mediation for the Bar Council Mediation seminar, the World Bank, the IFC, and the DBF.
Selected ADR Matters
Recent Dispute Boards
- EUR 780 million roads project in Eastern Europe including bridges, overpasses, slab top culverts, road construction works, drainage, electrical works, horticultural works, lighting system for interchange, traffic signalisation, traffic signalisation-redirection, telecommunication, water stream regulations, local roads, and other structures.
- EUR 1.6 billion roads project in South America for the construction of a hydroelectric facility and transformer housing facility including the upgrading of the existing bridges, overpasses and lighting systems.
- EUR 1.3 billion roads project in Serbia including the construction of a 68.7 km highway including construction of roads, bridges, tunnels and interchanges.
- EUR 560 million construction of a research and development facility in Germany involving new processes for the computer industry.
- EUR 12 billion light rail system including underground subway in Asia.
- GBP 28 million disagreement over the completion of a roads project. The parties voluntarily agreed to try mediation before resorting to arbitration. The matter was settled to everyone’s satisfaction after two days of mediation with a cost savings, estimated by the parties, at around GBP 1.5 million.
- EUR 1.2 billion at stake over the construction of a nuclear power plant. Contractor claimed for delay and unforeseen conditions and counterclaims made by the Employer over delay. The parties agreed to mediate after 2 years of litigation. All issues were successfully resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.
- US 120 million dispute over the construction of a light rail and roads network in Spain, which was stopped due to disagreement between the Employer and the Contractor over design details and costs. A language barrier impeded the progress of the matter until the parties agreed to voluntary mediation in Spain. The UK contractor agreed to use a translator and after 2 days of intensive mediation the matter was resolved and work resumed. Neither counsel nor solicitors were required as both sides used party representatives who were knowledgeable in construction and the particular project.
- GBP 16 million at stake over a disagreement as to the terms of instruction regarding the construction of a tunnel and road project in India. Litigation had begun in the Indian courts and after one year, and an impending trial, the matter was sent to mediation. The mediation took 5 days and resulted in a complete settlement and the successful completion of the project.
- EUR 560 million dispute over the fitness for use and structural engineering issues related to an international airport, aircraft repair facility and aircraft construction facility, which involved 5 parties and the concerned governmental authorities. After 3 days of intensive mediation the matter settled to the satisfaction of all parties and work resumed on the project resulting in successful completion.
- GBP 180 million arbitration over engineering issues on the construction of a 40 hectare free-span inter-connected truss design for a production facility in China. The matter involved UK engineers, a Japanese contractor and German and South African suppliers.
- GBP 800 million commercial arbitration involving a road construction project in China with issues relating to performance and extensions of time.
- GBP 763 million construction arbitration dealing with the construction of a naval docking facility and issues over delay in construction and quality of workmanship.
- GBP 920 million arbitration regarding extensions of time, quality of work and delay claims involving a tunnel project in Asia.
- EUR 545 million construction arbitration for delay and defects in the construction of a nuclear power plant.
Recent quotes from the Legal Directories include:
"He is in his element in complex international construction arbitrations"
"Possesses a razor-sharp intellect and encyclopaedic knowledge of international law along with a deep knowledge of construction and engineering." "Impressive both in his approach to complex construction matters but also with his astute commercial advice." – Legal 500
"He understands the nuances of international arbitration work, especially on complicated large-value cases and uses his perfect diplomatic skills to run efficient and flawless proceedings." – Chambers & Partners UK Bar
"Unparalleled advocacy and cross-examination skills, extensive knowledge of engineering all coupled with a very sound business judgement and tactical skill." – Legal 500
"Pre-eminent in arbitration both as counsel and as an arbitrator." – Legal 500
"He possesses the highest abilities and is a real master of the international construction arbitration circuit." – Chambers & Partners UK Bar
"Highly regarded in adjudication boards." – Chambers & Partners UK Bar
"Absolutely superb in complex international high-value matters… His superb depth of knowledge and cross-examination skills put him in the upper echelon of barristers." – Legal 500
Dr Cyril Chern
4 New Square Chambers
London WC2A 3RJ