The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021

Name: Rebecca Williams Chambers: Watson Farley & Williams Location: London University: Australian National University Degree: Arts law

is dispute resolution, so we strive to resolve disagreements amicably and navigate clients through disputes to ensure they are settled as quickly and cost efficiently as possible – that is why we get so much repeat business,” Rebecca emphasises. “When acting for a developer, for example, we also offer project execution support so that we can be brought in whenever there is an issue on a project to help resolve it rapidly. We have a good success rate – maybe six or seven issues out of 10 are resolved at this stage. Around 20-25% of the disputes we advise on reach a formal dispute resolution forum, whether that be adjudication, arbitration, expert determination or litigation. The close support that clients – and colleagues in other departments – require on these projects mean that as dispute resolution lawyers, we have to be very adaptable and responsive. This ensures that we have a steady pipeline of work.” When cases do go to a formal hearing, the stakes are often high – as a recent Technology & Construction Court case shows. “We inherited the case, PBS v Bester , from another solicitors’ firm after the client had lost two adjudications and three enforcement hearings,” she explains. “We were able to turn it around completely and won the TCC proceedings overall, but during the proceedings the other side began an adjudication using what we strongly believed was suspect evidence. We had just six weeks to gather enough evidence to prove that there had been a fraud or our client would have to pay out – it was the first time that anyone has resisted enforcement on that basis. We crunched through 57,000 documents and were eventually successful in getting the adjudication overturned.” Considering her advice for aspiring lawyers, Rebecca points out that “there is no formula for what makes a good lawyer, but don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through because the human element is still at the heart of lawyer-client relationships.”

a key issue in solar farms is delamination of solar panels – when the bond between the plastics and glass separates – while several disputes that I have worked on in the offshore wind industry have involved the same error in the standard guidelines that the industry previously used as the basis for building projects. The mistake involved a miscalculation of the axial load capacity of a key wind turbine component by a factor of 10, which meant that all the wind farms in the North Sea that had been built according to this standard started to fail. This kind of dispute is very difficult to resolve as both parties will understandably feel that they are not to blame and should not have to shoulder the costs.” The timescales of delivering such complex projects frequently run into problems, while the irresistible opportunities offered by the sector can also lead to overpromises. “What I’m seeing in solar is that there are contractors who really want to enter the market and become players, and in their enthusiasm to get a foothold, take more risks than is prudent and then want to redress the situation later on,” Rebecca observes. “A good example would be that the contractor signs up to guarantees in relation to the performance of assets which are then not met, leading to a legal dispute as the party that has taken imprudent risks will try to find ways to get out of the agreement.” Her clients vary by industry. “In offshore wind and solar I typically act on the owner- developer side, but in cases involving biomass or energy from waste, I will often act for a contractor,” she explains. “This is a necessary part of maintaining lawyer-client relationships – if the firm acts for developer clients and then acts for contractors who are bringing claims against them, we won’t win many friends.” Client focus and commercial awareness Looking out for the best interests of clients is essential to the job, which is why litigation is not necessarily always the aim. “Our service


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