Russell Thirgood is an independent international arbitrator based in Brisbane and London. Russell is a member of Int Arb Arbitrators & Mediators, after spending over 20 years at McCullough Robertson, Brisbane where he was partner and head of arbitration.
Russell is experienced in resolving complex and high value construction and infrastructure, energy and natural resources, and commercial disputes. He has conducted cases throughout Australia, Asia, US, UK, Middle-East and Europe under some of the key international and domestic arbitral institutional rules.
Specialist areas of expertise include Construction & Infrastructure, Energy & Natural Resources and Commercial disputes.
As arbitrator, he takes a modern, robust and dynamic approach throughout the arbitration process. He is responsive to the needs of parties and their counsel to ensure the proceedings are conducted swiftly, effectively and efficiently. He is considered, collaborative and concise.
Russell is the current Chair of The Resolution Institute (the pre-eminent dispute resolution organisation in Australia and New Zealand) and is a director of the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration.
He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
Russell has experience across a wide variety of commercial industries including fashion, defence and aviation, shipping ports, rail, roads, agribusiness, sugar, cotton and dairy private and public health, hospitals and international business obligations.
He also has experience in a wide range of matters including business and human rights, operation, maintenance and catering contracts, finance, loan and security agreements, shipping and maritime, travel and tourism, private and public property, consultancy and royalty agreements, fraud, bribery and corruption, anti-trust, supply, distribution, website design, hosting and commercial contracts, intellectual property, information technology, health and safety, franchise, joint venture and shareholder agreements, lease and licencing disputes, restraint of trade clauses, guarantees, indemnities, abandonment of contract, waiver and estoppel.
Construction and Infrastructure
Experience of cases typically arise from delay, disruption, prolongation, acceleration, global or total cost claims, liquidated damages, the doctrine of penalties, extension of time, scope changes, force majeure, frustration, repudiation, termination, waiver, estoppel, quantum merit, limitation and exclusion of liability, payment claims, security clauses, health and safety clauses, payment milestones, practical completion, substantial completion, final completion, bank guarantees, retention clauses, bonds, rail, roads, bridges, shipping ports and defects.
Energy and Natural Resources
Experience consists of offtake, JV, royalty, sale and supply agreements, EPC, solar, windfarm and hydro contracts, renewables, coal mine development and infrastructure, oil and gas projects, iron ore mines, copper and gold mines, drilling and blast, oil refinery and pipeline contracts, put option deeds, climate change and environmental matters, valuation disputes, deeds of guarantee and indemnities.
Russell also has expertise in matters including limitation and exclusion of liability, letters of credit, security clauses, intellectual property clauses, health and safety clauses, force majeure, frustration, commercial impracticability, termination, repudiation, breach of warranty, forfeiture, design, defects, prolongation, delay, disruption, pricing disputes, variations, practical and mechanical completion, liquidated damages and payment milestone disputes.
- Sole Arbitrator in AUD$50 million international commercial arbitration involving alleged defects to a shipping terminal located in the Asian Pacific region.
- Sole arbitrator in USD$10 million repudiation claim involving iron ore mine and Chinese steel mill concerning an offtake agreement (appointed by ACICA). Award dated April 2020.
- Sole arbitrator appointed in a dispute involving the terms of a sugar contract between approximately 250 growers and the relevant sugar mill. The value of the contract (and arbitration award) is estimated to be $300 million. Award delivered in February 2020.
- Sole arbitrator in $10 million claim against the defence force of a Pacific Island nation in relation to a catering services contract. Three awards delivered.
- Sole arbitrator in $2 million dispute between government entity in its capacity as lessor and lessee regarding valuation of lease assets.
- Sole arbitrator in $5 million construction dispute relating to variations, extension of time and liquidated damages claims.
- Sole arbitrator in $3 million construction dispute between contractor and subcontractor relating to various variations, extension of time, delay, liquidated damages and defects claims.
- Sole arbitrator in $1 million dispute between seller and purchaser of shopping centre regarding warranties and various defective works including the drainage system.
- Sole arbitrator in restraint of trade dispute involving the sale of a cleaning and facilities management business.
- Sole arbitrator in shareholders’ dispute relating to the dissolution of a global professional services business.
- Workplace dispute between senior officers of a regional based local council.
- Commercial dispute regarding the termination of a maintenance contract.
- Commercial dispute between Chinese property developer and contractor regarding misleading and deceptive conduct allegations.
- Construction dispute between the owner of a shopping centre and shop fitting contractor.
- Commercial dispute between ASX listed financier and owner of a shopping centre in relation to the supply and financing of equipment.
As Counsel, Arbitration
For over 20 years, Russell Thirgood has acted for clients as counsel in complex and high value commercial matters before international and domestic arbitral tribunals, in superior courts in Australia and internationally, including to enforce international arbitral awards.
- Series of 7 arbitration hearings and related Supreme Court proceedings over a 9 year period for the Adani Group against John Holland relating to $1.8 billion coal terminal.
- ICC arbitration acting for drilling company against Dutch dredging company in relation to dredging project.
- Enforcing London Court of International Arbitration award for Armada, a Singapore based shipping company (including obtaining freezing orders and an anti-suit injunction).
- ICC arbitration in Mexico concerning construction of oil refinery and pipeline.
- Resisting enforcement of ICC award against Balaji Coke, a Kolkata based Indian coking coal company.
- ICC arbitration seated in Malaysia regarding provision of services to an oil refinery project.
- JCAA arbitration concerning oil refinery project in the Middle East.
- Strategic advice in relation to Bilateral Investment Treaty arbitration in relation to $6 billion coal project.
- Setting aside arbitral award of the International Cotton Association regarding cotton supply contracts between US and PRC companies.
- Advising US oil and gas company in relation to enforcement of arbitration awards arising out of proceedings seated in Houston, Texas in the Supreme Court.
- Domestic arbitration in relation to design defects for a government owned water treatment plant.
- Domestic arbitration concerning defective work claim relating to a 5 star prestigious resort complex.
As Counsel, Construction and Commercial Litigation
- Supreme Court litigation in $60 million claim against PRC and Hong Kong based fashion clothing retail group for unpaid consultancy and development fees.
- Supreme Court litigation on behalf of the Adani Group against Glencore Group regarding strategic control in respect to the operation of a coal terminal.
- Acting for Ports Corporation and later the Adani Group in relation to a suite of disputes from a range of contractors in respect to the expansion of a coal terminal. The combined value of these claims was circa $500 million.
- Acting for a public hospital in relation to $80 million operation and maintenance contract and various disputes with a Canadian based facilities management contractor which were resolved through adjudication.
- Acting for a Council in relation to its design and construction of a cultural centre and multi-million dollar claims arising out of the precinct bridge.
- Acting for a balance of plant contractor in relation to the construction of two wind farms with a combined contract value of circa $150 million. Various disputes with a Chinese counterpart in relation to variations were resolved through expert determination.
- Acting for a builder in a dispute with a Chinese developer regarding a high rise development.
- Acting for Grocon Constructions and its senior officers in respect of Supreme Court proceedings arising out of the development of 480 Queen Street.
- Acting for Aurizon in multi-party Supreme Court litigation concerning the design and construction of a rail levee bank.
- Acting for Yancoal in relation to a series of cases regarding the operation of the Ashton coal mine.
- Acting for US coal mining company in relation to $500 million claim concerning a Bowen Basin coal mine.
- Acting for MacMahon Holdings in $100 million case in Supreme Court (including Court of Appeal) regarding wrongful termination of contract at Cobar Mine.
- Acting for a large home builder in relation to regulatory and licensing issues arising out of construction activities.
- Acting for property development group in relation to regulatory issues pertaining to their business activities.
- Acting for a health fund in Administrative Appeals Tribunal hearing arising out of decision of national regulator in respect to corporate governance issues.
- Acting for prominent building contractor in Royal Commission proceedings into trade union corruption.
- Acting for international time share holiday group in relation to investigation brought by Securities and Investment Commission.
- Acting in Federal Court proceedings for Asia Pacific construction group in relation to appealing decisions made by Tax Office.
- Acting for local government in construction dispute concerning delay and variation claims for a water treatment plant.
- Acting in joint venture dispute between State Owned Chinese and Australian construction companies.
- Acting for a capital city airport corporation in expert determination with multi-national oil company concerning the imposition of a fuel levy.
- Acting for Excel Coal defending adjudication and litigation proceedings in relation to mining infrastructure including the largest private rail loop.
- Acting for an ASX listed mining company in relation to claims arising out of the $500 million construction of a coal mine and coal handling preparation plant.
- Acting for Abigroup Contractors in relation to Supreme Court review of Security for Payment legislation claims.
- Acting for Flight Centre in multi-party action brought by former employees in the Supreme Court.
- Acting for a global supplier of mining equipment in relation to the protection of its intellectual property in respect of major mining equipment.
- Acting for the Body Corporate of a Resort in Supreme Court proceedings against a prominent developer and glass supplier regarding defects to residential tower.
- Acting for Lindores Cranes in proceedings arising out of a multiple fatality at Twin Towns Resort.
- Acting for Kumagai Gumi Co, a Japanese company, in relation to various construction claims in Supreme Court against electrical contractor.
- Acting for Dempsey Group in Supreme Court against Sandvik in relation to defective drilling rigs.
- Fellow of Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (ACICA)
- Member of Nominations Committee for ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) Australia (2018-2020)
- Australian Disputes Centre (ADC)
- Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC)
- Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) List of Arbitrators
- New Zealand Dispute Resolution Centre (NZDRC)
- New Zealand International Arbitration Centre (NZIAC)
- Building Disputes Tribunal, New Zealand
- Queensland Law Society, Australia
- Resolution Institute, Australia
- Roster of International Arbitrators, Juris
- Thai Arbitration Institute List of Arbitrators
- Fellow of Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK)
- Fellow of Resolution Institute (previously named Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia)
- Member, Panel of Editorial Consultants, Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal
- General Editor, The Arbitrator and Mediator
- Member, Queensland Law Society since 1998
- Member, International Bar Association (International Construction Projects Committee)
- Member, American Bar Association
- Member, Society of Construction Law
- Member, International Trust of Amnesty International (UK)