Thomas McDonald

Thomas McDonald


Tom McDonald matriculated in Worcester and studied at the University of Stellenbosch, where he obtained a B Eng (Civil) in 1981. He obtained a B Proc at the University of South Africa in 1987. Today he is a registered Professional Engineer, Fellow of the Association of Arbitrators and practices law as an Attorney, Notary and Conveyancer.

His career commenced in 1982 as Site Engineer for a firm of Consulting Engineers on the construction of a large water purification plant. He subsequently moved into the design office where his duties included the design of pump stations, filtration plants and pipelines. His duties also included the drafting of contract documentation, adjudication of tenders and contract administration.

He completed his legal articles in 1989 and became the legal advisor to the Building Industries Federation of SA (“BIFSA”) in 1990. His duties included the drafting of agreements for building works, guarantees, rentals and services, while also presenting law courses to contractors, engineers, architects, quantity surveyors and developers.

In 1998 he became a director of a law firm in the Johannesburg CBD. Since March 2009 he had been practicing on his own from premises in Waverley, Johannesburg. The practice includes litigation, arbitration, adjudication, property law, commercial law and construction law (including JBCC, FIDIC and NEC).

He has lectured at the University of Witwatersrand, University of Johannesburg and the Construction Management Program at the University of Stellenbosch.


GFJ Consulting Engineers: 1982-1987

  • Site engineer during construction of Balkfontein water purification plant (1982-1983)
  • Design engineer at Pretoria head office (1984-1987). Duties inter alia included:
    • Design of pump stations, filtration and floatation plants, and bulk water pipelines
    • Drafting and compilation of tender documents
    • Adjudication of tenders
    • Administration of projects

Adams & Adams Attorneys: 1988

Nelson Broman Attorneys: 1989

  • Articled legal clerk

Building Industries Federation (BIFSA): 1990-1994

  • Legal Advisor to BIFSA. Duties inter alia included:
    • Drafting of building agreements, guarantees, rental agreements, service agreements and general commercial agreements
    • Presenting law courses to building contractors, sub-contractors, engineers, architects, quantity surveyors, and developers
    • Members of State Tender Board

Du Toit McDonald Attorneys Inc: 1995 to February 2009

  • Established a professional firm of attorneys which had its offices in the Johannesburg CBD

McDonald Attorney: March 2009 to date

  • Practice as an attorney, conveyancer and notary in terms of the following activities:
    • Represent parties at arbitrations, mediations and civil litigation on technical, construction and commercial disputes
    • Attorney for various technical institutions relating to the building and construction industry
    • Drafting of joint venture agreements, consortium agreements, rental agreements, agency agreements, project management agreements and various commercial agreements
    • Presiding as arbitrator and adjudicator in numerous building, civil engineering and other commercial disputes
    • Attend to property transactions and sale agreements, the opening of sectional title registers, conveyancing of commercial and residential properties
    • Matters relating to JBCC, FIDIC, NEC, GCC, NHBRC, SABS and SANS Specifications, National Building Regulations, City Improvement Districts
    • Preside as chairman on disciplinary inquiries for clients in labour matters and professional conduct for the SA Council for the Architectural Profession.
    • During the last 12 years involved in about 240 disputes as arbitrator, adjudicator or attorney representing a party of which about 140 were referred to arbitration, 10 to adjudication and 90 to litigation

Lecture Experience

  • During employment with BIFSA attended to the compilation of contract law courses and presenting full day seminars on the old White Form of Building Agreement, JBCC Principal Building Agreement and the various Sub-Contract Agreements. Presented information sessions on the establishment of the NHBRC.
  • Lectured construction law the University of Stellenbosch Construction Management Programme during 1993, 1995 and 1997.
  • Lectured labour law to final year QS students at the University of Witwatersrand between 2000 and 2005.
  • Lectured contract law to final year Engineering students at the University of Johannesburg between 2010 and 2011.
  • Presented, during the period 2009 to 2017 and on behalf of Binnington Copeland and Associates, courses on Contract Law / FIDIC / JBCC / NEC.


  • Matric: Montana High School (Worcester) – 1975
  • B Eng (Civil): University of Stellenbosch (full time) – 1981
  • B Proc: University of South Africa (part time) – 1987
  • Diploma in Arbitration: SA Association of Arbitrators – 1989
  • National Certificate: Technikon RSA – 1992 (Property Development & Management)
  • Higher Diploma in Arbitration: SA Association of Arbitrators – 1999


  • Professional Engineer: 1986
  • Admitted as Attorney: 1989
  • Fellow of SA Association of Arbitrators: 1999
  • Admitted as Conveyancer: 2005
  • Admitted as Notary: 2006