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Dermot Woolgar

Call 1988

"Dermot is one of the most methodical barristers I have ever come across. He is positive in his advice and has an excellent calming manner which is very reassuring to clients."
(Legal 500, 2021)

Construction & Engineering

Dermot’s construction and engineering practice covers the full spectrum of disputes that arise in this field. He acts and advises in disputes concerning the proper interpretation and application of contract terms (including the terms in the main standard form JCT, NEC, FIDIC and ICE contracts), in loss and expense claims, in defective work and final account disputes, and in disputes concerning delay and disruption. He is regularly engaged in adjudications, especially those of a more significant nature requiring the marshalling and analysis of substantial amounts of evidence. He is often engaged in disputes which have real property or insolvency-related aspects, because of his knowledge and experience from his earlier years in practice undertaking commercial chancery work.

He is a former co-author of the chapter in Emden’s Construction Law on construction insolvency.

He is listed as a leading practitioner in the field of Construction in the Legal 500.

Selected Cases

  • Acting for trustees of property fund resisting claim that the failure to achieve practical completion of a specialised engineering facility by the long stop date in an Agreement for Lease entitled the proposed tenant to rescind the AFL; trustees claiming that the proposed tenant’s refusal to enter into the lease following the certification of practical completion entitled them to repudiate the AFL, and to seek substantial damages.
  • Acting for national provider of property maintenance services to the public sector in adjudication seeking balance of £3.7m said to be unpaid in respect of a £50m NEC3 ECC contract with a local authority, relating to works carried out to 1400 properties over a 4-year period. Issues included proper valuation of works, extent of works undertaken, relevance of contemporaneous records versus recent re-measurements, and lawfulness of retention in absence of a retention clause in the contract.
  • Acting for property developer seeking specific enforcement of an Agreement for Lease relating to two purpose-built student accommodation blocks; proposed tenant resisting claim on grounds that buildings suffered from extensive defects and was therefore not practically complete by the long stop date in the AFL. Proposed tenant claimed that the certificate of practical completion was invalid and should be set aside. Proposed tenant counterclaimed for £multi-million damages. Developer brought consequential Part 20 proceedings against the building contractors, the employers agent, and M&E subcontractors. (Plymouth (Notte Street) Ltd v Mears Ltd [2019] EWHC 2185 (TCC))
  • Acting for the property fund freehold proprietor of the Beetham Tower in Manchester sued by the lessee of the Hilton Hotel for specific performance of the landlord’s repairing covenants in the lease of the hotel, so as to compel it to repair defects in the glazing panels throughout the façade of the building. Issues involved the adequacy of the repairs already undertaken, the sufficiency of a regular inspection and maintenance regime, and the extent to which aesthetic considerations bear on the proper construction of repairing obligations. (Blue Manchester Ltd v North West Ground Rents Ltd [2019] EWHC 142 (TCC))
  • Acting for the successful property developer respondent at trial in the TCC and subsequently in the Court of Appeal, in which the Court of Appeal considered the meaning of “practical completion” in English law for the first time in 50 years and held that trifling patent defects, even if irremediable, do not prevent the certification of practical completion (Mears Ltd v Costplan Services (South East) Ltd & Ors [2018] EWHC 3363 (TCC) and [2019] EWCA Civ 502)
  • Acting for a national contractor in resisting a claim in adjudication brought by an employer for sums in excess of £1.3m allegedly overpaid during the course of a 5-year measured term JCT contract, as a result of alleged overcharging. Contractor denied overcharging and counterclaimed for £1.6m still unpaid and outstanding. Issues involved whether payments made on interim applications were subject to review when determining the final account in the absence of any pay less notices. The contractor was successful both in defeating the claim and on its counterclaim.
  • Acting for property developer of part-commercial, part-residential, building destroyed by fire, seeking specific performance of the architect’s obligation to execute collateral warranties in favour of the building’s residential lessees. The terms of the warranties included restrictions on the architect’s liability to the beneficiaries and the architect’s PI policy excluded liability for most claims arising out of a collateral warranty. The spread of the fire was alleged to have been greater than it would have been but for design errors on the part of the architect. The court was required to determine the architect’s PI insurers’ contentions that the architect would be entitled to rely on the contributory negligence of the contractor as a partial defence to any claim under the warranties (Oakapple Homes (Glossop) Ltd v DTR (2009) Ltd (In Liquidation) & Ors [2013] EWHC 2394 (TCC))
  • Acting for construction company concerning allegedly negligent design, failure to warn, and defective works at a new marina.
  • Acting for UK/Malaysian steel fabricators in claim against Malaysian steel suppliers for defective goods and delays in delivery.
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  • LLB (Hons) (Manchester University)
  • Diploma in International Commercial Arbitration (Chartered Institute of Arbitrators)


  • London Court of International Arbitration
  • Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
  • London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association (Committee Member)
  • Professional Negligence Bar Association
  • Technology and Construction Bar Association
  • Commercial Bar Association
  • Administrative Law Bar Association


Co-author of chapter on Construction Insolvency in Emden’s Construction Law

“Regulation or Red Tape: the UK equity release market”: co-author (with Rob Sheldon and Liam Corrigan of DWF LLP) of chapter in Making the Most of Equity Release: Perspectives from Key Players, published by The Smith Institute, March 2012

“Still an Empty Concept?”: co-author (with Keith Shaw of Pinsent Masons LLP) discussing the implications of NYK Logistics Ltd v Ibrend Estates BV [2011] EWCA Civ 683 on the meaning of “vacant possession”, published in the Estates Gazette, 23 July 2011

“The Seduction of Iconoclasm”: discussion of the exemptions for religious organisations in the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, published in Law and Justice 2007, 158, 64

“Citibank NA v MBIA Assurance SA & Ors [2007] EWCA Civ 11”: co-author (with Justin Davis of Crown Office Chambers): Case Commentary published in International Corporate Rescue: Vol 4 (2007) Issue 5


“Dermot is very personable, breeds confidence in all who instruct him and clients alike. When sat behind him in court you nearly always think you have instructed the superior counsel.”

Legal 500, 2022

“Dermot is one of the most methodical barristers I have ever come across. He is positive in his advice and has an excellent calming manner which is very reassuring to clients.”

Legal 500, 2021

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