Awards host Shadia Bseiso (left) and awards judge Mark Hultum (far right), Deutsche Bank; with the Reed Smith team

Finalists: Al Tamimi & Company; Baker McKenzie; BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates; Charles Russell Speechlys (Highly Commended); Clyde & Co; Dentons; DLA Piper; Trowers & Hamlins.

Reed Smith received the arbitration team of the year award for helping one of the UAE’s leading construction contractors resolve a conflict that could have a major impact on future construction disputes in the country.

The dispute over delays to a project was unusual as the claim was brought by the developer, which meant the firm had to adopt a different strategy (typically such claims would be initiated by the contractor). The firm’s strategy sought to refute and counter the developer’s claim, but also gain control of the arbitration process (it successfully asked that the tribunal be split into two hearings).

Drawing on its expertise of UAE Civil Transactions Law (with the assistance of local firm Al Qari Advocates), the firm advised the contractor to remain on the project site – a potentially risky move that the developer claimed was an illegal occupation. The tribunal ruled in favour of the contractor, finding that the occupation of the site was not illegal and awarding the contractor 92% of its AED112m counter-claim (typically the industry standard is around 50%).

“Reed Smith and their client took a calculated risk on an innovative legal and commercial strategy to win through a complex and vigorously contested construction dispute,” one judge said.

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