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GAR 100 - 12th Edition

Clayton Utz

05 April 2019

The Australian firm continues to act in important construction cases throughout Asia

Pending cases as counsel 4
Current arbitrator appointments 22 (11 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator  1

Clayton Utz is one of the oldest law firms in Australia and one of the few large firms of its size and vintage not to have been absorbed by an international mega-merger. The firm has had an active arbitration practice since the 1980s and has developed a market-leading position for advice on major engineering works locally – particularly in public infrastructure, energy and similar private sector projects. Nevertheless, it also enjoys a healthy overseas practice, with international energy companies, US banks and Asian governments turning to the team for advice. The practice grew under the leadership of Doug Jones and Michael Pryles, who left the firm in 2009 after many years to become chair of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre.

Since Pryles’ departure, Jones stepped up both in the firm and in the wider Australian arbitration community, in which he is very prominent. He leads the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration and was made an officer of the Order of Australia in 2012 for his services to arbitration. In 2016, he was appointed Companion of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, an organisation for which he served as the first Australian president in 2011.

The firm has a further seven partners with arbitration experience on its staff.


Clayton Utz has experimented with overseas associations and had an office in Hong Kong working alongside Haley & Co between 2010 and 2014, but has since focussed on domestic bases in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth and Darwin.

Who uses it?

The team continues to handle a lot of construction, infrastructure and energy work, representing Australian contractors – including Bains Harding, Downer Construction and McConnell Dowell – in international proceedings.

Clayton Utz has advised on several high-value disputes concerning infrastructure projects around the world, including hydropower in Iran, roads in the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong, and bridges in Vietnam and Hong Kong. Instructions from several South Asian parties, including government entities, attest to the firm’s reputation outside of its native Australia.

Track record

Among its past successes, Clayton Utz secured an award for client Bains Harding against Kellogg in a dispute seated in Kuala Lumpur over construction work in a gas field in Malaysia. The award was worth around US$22 million and allowed Bains to recover all of its costs.

Clayton Utz also acted for Asian construction company John Holland against Japan’s Toyo Engineering in an arbitration conducted under ICC rules in Vancouver, London and Singapore concerning the construction of a A$250 million refinery in Victoria. The A$100 million dispute led to amendments to the Singapore legislation concerning challenge rights of parties who opt out of the Model Law.

The firm was involved in a further precedent setting case on home soil, representing Kazakh law firm Michael Wilson & Partners in an appeal to the High Court of Australia regarding the relationship between an Australian judgment and a foreign arbitral award.

Recent events

Jones chaired the International Council of Commercial Arbitration (ICCA) Congress held in Sydney in 2018.

Related articles

  • The Asia-Pacific Arbitration Review 2019


  • The Asia-Pacific Arbitration Review 2018


  • The Asia-Pacific Arbitration Review 2017


  • The Asia-Pacific Arbitration Review 2016


  • The Asia-Pacific Arbitration Review 2015




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