John Hughes

John Hughes

Partner – Head of Africa

John Hughes has 32 years’ experience in the construction and engineering industries providing construction/project management, estimating, forensic delay analysis and claims management services to clients in the UK and internationally. He has a Masters in Construction Law and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. John has major claims experience in the UK, Middle East and Africa. He has worked on a number of high profile oil & gas, power plant, civil engineering, building construction and transport infrastructure disputes.

John commenced his construction career as an estimator on large scale building and civil projects. Thereafter John graduated into construction/project management roles. In his mid to late twenties John set up and operated how own construction company specialising in refurbishment, house building and property development. Following the property slump in the early nineties John took up senior management roles and directorships with building, commercial refurbishment and interior fit-out companies prior to moving into full time consultancy work.

As a Partner with a Masters in Construction Law, John provides expert services to the construction and dispute resolution markets. He has provided tactical and strategic advice to employers and contractors alike throughout the currency of the construction process, from tender documentation through to claims preparation and/or claims response on live and post tender disputes. He has regularly prepared expert opinion by way of delay and quantum reports for adjudication and arbitration proceedings.

His construction experience spans residential buildings, industrial and manufacturing facilities, nuclear & power plant facilities, rail and transit, schools, roads and highways, office buildings, hotels, retail, sewage treatment plants, urban and community development, religious buildings, military facilities, and civil buildings in the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and South Africa.

Based in both Abu Dhabi & South Africa, John has been assigned as a contracts, quantum, delay and planning consultant on a variety of commissions, straddling various different countries/sectors.



New Office Blocks, Abu Dhabi, UAE (2012)

Provided the client with third party advice on a Contractor’s claim for time and associated costs. This involved the production of a report offering an independent overview on Contractor entitlement. This was the product of a thorough assessment of the Contractor’s submission in tandem with a series of on-site interviews with the client’s project management team. The matter concluded with a presentation to the client direct. On the basis of this submission the client instructed the Engineer to refer to/accept John’s commentary prior to making his final award to the Contractor.

Hotel and Leisure Facility, Abu Dhabi, UAE (2012)

In conjunction with an expert planner, requested by the Employer to provide independent opinion/assessment on the Engineer’s response to Main Contractor’s claims for an extension to the time for completion. Provided a detailed report on the Engineer’s (provisional) approach to averred Contractor entitlement to time and associated costs. The remit also extended to presenting said findings to the Engineer’s team in order that consideration of same could be incorporated into the Engineer’s final determination.

Commercial Property, Oman (2011)

Prepared an extension of time and associated costs claim for a Contractor engaged in the construction of a large commercial property in Muscat. The preparation of this claim involved reviewing the agreed baseline programme and thereafter impacting relevant delay events considered to be on the critical path of the works. Responsibilities extended to the production of a final deliverable articulating the Contractor’s position on time and associated costs.

Galsgow Academy, UK (2011)

Prepared the successful defence of a significant claim against the Contractor at adjudication. This involved the identification of preferential logic inserted by the Contractor’s planning experts and the demonstration of that logic as non-critical / opportunistic in subsequent adjudication proceedings. The final document utilised programme screenshots, pictorial evidence and photographs to underpin observations.

Trinidad Public Enquiry, Trinidad & Tobago (2009-2010)

Provided independent advice and investigative work into the performance of the government’s executing agents in a US$20gn infrastructure project. This involved a detailed investigation into the performance of the Contractor. In particular, the alignment of progress with planned intent and subsequent payments received. All findings drafted were submitted as material evidence to the ongoing public enquiry. The matter was sufficiently high profile that ongoing proceedings were accessible by way of a live link to the court room. Notably, all evidence submitted was tested live in the court room and has significant influence on the overall decision.

High School, Glasgow, UK (2008-2009)

Co-wrote a detailed document on behalf of the Main Contractor in defense of a large subcontractor claim. The document was sufficiently persuasive that the subcontractor retracted the claim entirely and cancelled adjudication proceedings. The main factor influencing such a decision was John’s identification of the subcontractor’s lack of prioritisation in the construction of an intricate concrete frame construction.

School, London, UK (2006-2007)

Co-wrote a detailed document successfully defending a London Borough Council substantive adjudication proceedings. Relied on the Contractor’s inappropriate / unrealistic reliance on ‘as-planned impacted’ delay analysis techniques. In this instance the Contractor impacted on the original baseline document in an attempt to mask its own culpability. Demonstrated, by reference to contemporaneous records, that the real delays rested with the Contractor and as such it has to bear responsibility for the extended construction duration.


Tram Project, UK (2010-2011)

Over a period of 18 months, led a team of consultants and Employer’s management consultants in the defense of substantive claims flowing from complex matters of delay. This involved the provision of strategic / tactical advice and the preparation of rebuttal documentation for arbitration / adjudication proceedings. The project was beset with substantive / myriad concurrent delays. As such, also provided advice suffice to influence the Employer’s management of the ongoing works in an attempt to avoid further litigation. Conducted talks / seminars on behalf of the Employer to the extended Employer’s staff on concurrent delay and the requirement to maintain accurate contemporaneous site records.


Major Oil Refinery, Abu Dhabi, UAE (2012)

Worked in conjunction with an expert planner in the preparation of an extension of time and associated costs claim for a Contractor engaged in the construction of a US$2.7bn oil refinery. Responsibilities included the investigation and subsequent preparation of a complex claim narrative addressing a dispute which has arisen, consequent to interpretational differences on prior enabling works. Specifically, the issue related to disputed ground conditions.


Power Plant, South Africa (2014-date)

As commission lead / director, led the defense of Contractor claims on the largest construction project on the Southern Hemisphere. That role extended to the management of teams of other ex-pat consultants directly employed by the client. Individual claim responses in some instances exceeded US$1bn. By way of addressing the scale and extent of Contractor claim submissions, developed complex tactical / strategies which proved instantly successful in terms of claims / dispute resolution and perhaps more significantly claims avoidance. Those strategies continue to serve the project to date. Still play a part-time advisory role in support of the above.


  • HNCert, Building, Glasgow College of Building & Printing
  • LLM, Construction Law, Straathclyde University


  • Member, Royal Institute of Chartered Arbitrators
  • Associate Member, Chartered Institute of Building


  • “What now for Concurrency?” – ‘A’ Grade


  • HKA South Africa, Partner: 2017 – Present
  • Hill International, South Africa: 2012-2017
    • Vice President (Africa) & Managing Director, 2016-2017
    • Vice President (Africa), 2015
    • Director, 2013-2014
    • Associate Director, 2012-2013
    • Senior Consultant, 2011-2012
  • Acutus Programme Management Ltd., United Kingdom, Consultant: 2006-2011
  • JJL Artisan, United Kingdom, Construction Director: 2004-2006
  • Burns Design Ltd., United Kingdom, Contracts Director: 2001-2004
  • Decorum Ltd., United Kingdom, Construction & Commercial Director: 1996-2001
  • Unilock (Partitioning) Ltd., United Kingdom, Joint Scottish Area Manager: 1995-1995
  • AB Hamilton Ltd. (previously French Kier Ltd), United Kingdom, Development Manager: 1992-1995
  • JJL Artisan Ltd., United Kingdom, Construction Director: 1989-1992
  • French Kier Ltd., United Kingdom, Senior Building Estimator: 1985-1989
  • Balfour Beatty Ltd., United Kingdom, Building Estimator: 1983-1985
  • Fairclough Building Ltd. (later the AMEC Group), United Kingdom, Trainee Building Estimator / Building Estimator: 1979-1983