IPBA 2021

Karen Gough

Barrister, Attorney-at-Law (Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago), Chartered Arbitrator

39 Essex Chambers, London, Singapore and Malaysia


Karen Gough is an English Barrister in practice at 39 Essex Chambers and is based in its London office. Karen specialises in complex major construction, engineering, infrastructure and energy disputes, and general commercial litigation, with a strong emphasis on international commercial arbitration and ADR. She practises globally as counsel, attorney-at-law, arbitrator, adjudicator and ADR neutral and in the UK has appeared before the courts at all levels, including the Privy Council.

She represents a wide range of clients including governments, government agencies, local authorities, educational institutions, contractors, sub-contractors, and major commercial organisations. Her construction practice includes disputes concerning private domestic and commercial industrial and retail developments, major public works and infrastructure projects including water, sewage, energy and power plants, nuclear facilities, hospitals, prisons, schools, roads, rail, and sea defences. She has dealt with all manner of disputes, including claims for payment, extensions of time, delay and disruption, specialist disputes involving complex M&E and building management systems, ground conditions, cladding and roofing projects. Her commercial practice includes corporate debt restructuring issues; disputes arising from share purchase agreements; banking; and a number of other complex disputes involving financing and guarantees for major commercial developments. Karen also acts for clients in insolvency/insolvency related disputes.

She is a past president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a Chartered Arbitrator, and a member of a number of arbitral institution panels, and an accredited adjudicator. She is a past Chairman of the ICAEW’s Insolvency Licensing Committee.

She is an acknowledged expert on the resolution of disputes arising under the FIDIC forms of contract. She is an expert “Friendly Reviewer” of the FIDIC 2017 Forms, a member of the AIAC Expert Advisory Committee contributing to the drafting of the KLRCA/AIAC Standard Form Contracts in Malaysia and a member of the expert advisory panel of the JAIAC.

She is a Council member of the Society for Construction Law in London and a Vice Chairman of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association’s International Construction Projects Committee.

She is described as “Just the person you want if the battle is going to be hot” in construction claims, and having “immense arbitral experience” by Chambers UK, and by Legal 500 as providing advice which is“…incisive, to the point, and with an ability to solve complex problems with ease.”, and as someone who is “outstanding in her detailed and analytical grasp of her field and fearless in her protection of the client”, and “The sort of advocate that most clients dream of instructing.”