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Construction Disputes: A Passport for International Exploration

The desire to travel and explore the word is increasingly popular in contemporary society.  But is limiting this to a few weeks a year during holidays from your day job the most one can aspire to?  How about you have a job that allows you to travel, work on different continents and see the world at the same time?

Working within the area of construction disputes might be the answer for Quantity Surveyors, Planners and Engineers who possess a desire to see the world, progress a successful career, develop valuable skills and experience and be able to return to the UK when they want.  This is also the case with other construction roles we recruit for such as project managers, planners and other roles too.

Construction Disputes vs. typical QS/PM roles when travelling overseas

Construction disputes specialists may often find themselves in a more flexible position when it comes to relocating to new jobs around the world. This is because, unlike in a live project based role, the projects you are working on might be in various or multiple locations around the globe.

The “UK way” of Quantity Surveying can be quite different than in other locations in the world. Our clients who require QS staff tell us, that if a QS has been overseas for too long then they will not be eligible for the higher salaries due to a lack of recent UK experience. Different cultures and ways of working, as well as needing to brush up on up to date UK contract forms all contribute to this issue. Someone who falls into this category may not hit the ground running quite so much as someone who is already UK based – and the same goes in regards those opportunities elsewhere in the world if you are moving from the UK.

If you work for a company in London that works on large scale disputes on international projects, your role in the UK will not be too different from your role overseas on similar projects in the same location. You will of course be working remotely in relation to the project in question, and potentially doing a slightly different role than previous depending on the nature of the company’s specialism. However, you will be familiar with the forms of contract, type of project, perhaps culture on the project and other aspects surrounding the project and locations at issue. You will also be eligible to travel overseas on “fact finding” missions if you are working for an expert witness company, prior to bringing the work back to the UK and writing up the results you have found.

On the flip side, if you have experience in London based international disputes, but have not worked overseas previously, your experience in this area will increase your suitability to do this in an overseas location when you seek to do so. You will be able to gain exposure to international projects and disputes without moving from London (or by doing a bit of travel as well), and also increase your suitability for overseas roles too.

Salary maintenance on a cross border basis

Construction disputes staff that are overseas, and wanting to return to the UK, may find themselves in an easier position when trying to find a role and maintain a better level of remuneration.

In the niche specialism of construction disputes jobs, senior people are on lucrative packages – more so in most cases than say a Commercial Director of a construction company. This fact, combined with the points above, contribute to the case that working in disputes in the UK following an overseas period will make you eligible to maintain a salary that is closer to what you are used to overseas; even if for tax reasons your disposable income is still less upon your return to the UK. The type of company that will offer this opportunity in the UK will not only work on UK based construction disputes, but also overseas disputes from a UK office. This means that your skillset will be maximised from the offset by joining such a company, and that the transition is a far cleaner one.

At the senior level in certain types of construction dispute firms, it is the case that your salary and package will fluctuate drastically dependant on your reputation and network and so your negotiating power increases further if you prove these attributes. The salary and package you can demand will be quite closely related to how much revenue you will likely bring the business each calendar year. If you return to the UK and join a business that specialises in international arbitrations, you will likely maintain a very useful network that you have acquired across the world due to the international nature of the work flowing into the London Market. If you hold a sound reputation in this field, the work can follow.

Is London Market experience useful?

The UK market is one of the centres of excellence when it comes to construction disputes on global, landmark projects. Many of the big players with offices in London have been involved on major projects such as Muscat International Airport in Oman, major power stations Medupi and Kusile in South Africa, and many other landmark projects in various sectors around the globe from a construction disputes perspective. Work tends to flow in to be completed within the London market no matter where the dispute is located in the world, due to the high reputation UK construction dispute experts have. This means not only will you be likely to find work on your return to the UK, but also if you have London market experience already you may be sought after in some overseas locations also due to the quality of work you are already experienced in.


If you are someone who wants to travel overseas or live overseas for a sustained period, yet want to maintain a successful, lucrative career path, construction disputes work is definitely worth seriously considering. It is highly skilled, challenging, whilst allowing the possibility of visiting or relocating to some of the most interesting projects and locations around the world.  I have written a number of career advice articles in this area:  

Top 5 Tips to Transfer into Construction Disputes

12 Points to Assess Whether Expert Witness Work is for You

Salary Report 2017Q3: UK Construction Dispute Roles

7 Reasons to Specialise in Construction Disputes in the UK

If you already have construction dispute experience in the UK and want to broaden your horizons by working internationally, please review and apply for our latest international Quantum Delay Claims and Dispute jobs via the Maxim Recruitment website.




Adam Cadwaldr
Recruitment Consultant

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