Ian DE VAZ is the Head of the Infrastructure, Construction & Engineering Practice and a Partner in the International Arbitration, and Middle East Practices.

In January 2018, Ian was amongst the inaugural batch of select legal practitioners to be appointed as Senior Accredited Specialist in Building and Construction Law by the Singapore Academy of Law.

Ian has a diverse practice in construction and civil engineering work, spanning both front-end matters and dispute resolution work.

As a disputes practitioner, he has appeared as lead counsel in the Court of Appeal and the High Court on, amongst other things, the enforceability and setting aside of adjudication determinations and arbitral awards; in both international and domestic construction arbitrations (institutional and ad hoc) he has dealt  with issues on delay and disruption, concurrency of delays, extensions of time, liquidated and general damages, loss and expense claims, disputed variations, value engineering claims, defective works and design inadequacies, unforeseen ground and geotechnical conditions, construction insurance claims, bonds/guarantees, work suspension/abandonment, force majeure claims, and termination of contracts. Ian has particular expertise in land reclamation, infilling and soil improvement work, in handling claims for damage to cable and underground services and in defending prosecutions under the relevant legislation, including on workplace safety & health matters.

Ian's front-end construction experience includes drafting, reviewing, negotiating and advising on various standard form construction contracts (such as SIA, PSSCOC, REDAS, FIDIC, NEC, JCT and ICE), project management and consultancy agreements, construction-related insurance policies, bonds and guarantees. To complement this, Ian advises clients on the suitability of adopting different methods and best procurement models ranging from Public Private Partnership (PPP), Design-Build-Own-Operate (DBOO), Design and Build (D&B), Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC), Engineering, Procurement, Construction Management (EPCM) contracts and fee-based (management contracting and construction management) models and variants thereof.

Ian enjoys the distinction of being one of the first lawyers in Singapore to be trained as an adjudicator of construction disputes at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, London in 2002, well before statutory adjudication was introduced in Singapore in 2005. Ian is numbered among a select and exclusive number of Senior Adjudicators, appointed pursuant to the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act (Cap 30B, Rev Ed 2006); all of his notable adjudication determinations are published in the annual Singapore Construction Adjudication Review (SCAdjR). To date, Ian has advised on, served as an adjudicator, and acted as counsel in more than 100 adjudications. Ian's expertise in domestic adjudication work is complemented by his experience in sitting as a member of various Dispute Adjudication Boards (both standing and ad hoc) for mega construction projects in East Africa and Bangladesh.

In the arbitration arena, Ian is regularly nominated to sit as arbitrator in international construction arbitrations administered by institutions such as the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC).

In March 2022, Ian was invited by the Law Society of Singapore to sit on its Building & Construction Law Committee - a new standing committee intended to facilitate knowledge-sharing in the subject area and to seek opportunities for professional growth, development and engagement, both within and outside Singapore. In July 2022, Ian was also nominated as the Singapore sole practitioner-representative to sit on the inaugural International Statutory Adjudication Forum (ISAF). The committee comprises construction luminaries from Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and the United Kingdom.
Outside of legal practice, Ian serves as a Professor in the Faculty of Law, NUS, where he has been teaching construction law since 2004.

Leveraging on his international experience and expertise, Ian is regularly invited to speak on topical and practical issues in construction law; to date, he has delivered more than 80 papers to a diverse global audience, spanning both common and civil law jurisdictions, including the United States of America, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar.

Ian graduated from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and is admitted to the Singapore Bar and to the Roll of Solicitors of the Supreme Court of England & Wales. Ian obtained his Master of Laws degree from University College London, where he obtained a Distinction in International Construction – Contracts and Arbitration.

Matters of significance in which Ian has been involved in include acting/advising for the following:

  • A leading Grade A1 contractor in two (consolidated) SIAC arbitrations with claims and counterclaims in aggregate of S$51.3 million arising out of piling and diaphragm wall works for a mass rapid transit tunnelling and station project. Geo-technical engineering issues on how GIII/GIV material should be assessed and measured in turn gave rise to claims for unforeseen ground conditions, concurrent delays and disruptions, extension of time entitlements, loss and expense claims, prolongation costs and variations.
  • A leading European designer and manufacturer of steel plants in an SIAC arbitration against one of Asia’s largest steel producers, arising out of the construction of a large-scale integrated extrusion complex in South Asia. The dispute involved complicated issues of law and fact, including issues relating to suspension of works, variations, delays, fitness for purpose and defects.
  • A leading Korean civil engineering contractor who, upon receipt of a SIAC arbitration award for Rs 161,42,44,497 in respect of civil works and infrastructure project for the National Highways Authority in the State of Madhya Pradesh, India, successfully resisted a long-drawn and complex setting set application at the seat of arbitration in Singapore.
  • A leading desalination plant provider in an ICC Arbitration with claims and counterclaims in aggregate of some US$15.9 million for the engineering, construction and commissioning of a desalination plant in Souk Telta, Algeria where breaches of a supply contract, a construction contract and a bridging agreement had to be considered in tandem with a complex interface of different laws, the issue of permits and approvals in Algeria, piping design deficiencies and various time-related claims.
  • A leading subcontractor in the Middle East in an ICC arbitration with claims in the sum of AED 9,643,551.78 for breach of, inter alia, the FIDIC for Works of Civil Engineering Construction, for the design, supply and installation of various precast elements for a project on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
  • Jurong Aromatics Corporation Pte. Ltd. in the development of its US$2 billion aromatics project on Jurong Island, Singapore – one of the largest privately-owned petrochemical projects in Singapore and the region – for the production of energy and aromatics products to regional end-users and global downstream producers and traders in the textile and plastics industries. The work spanned many facets including drafting and negotiation of two bespoke EPC contracts, project management and consultancy agreements, the review of an underground storage services agreement for storage of feedstock at the Jurong Rock Cavern storage system.

Related Practices

  • Infrastructure, Construction & Engineering 
  • International Arbitration
  • Middle East
  • Contributing Editor, Law and Practice of Construction Contracts (5th edition, 2018)
  • Contributing Editor, Singapore Journal of Construction Law (2016-2019)
  • Contributor, Security of Payments and Construction Adjudication (2nd edition, 2012)
  • Contributor, Building and Construction volume of Halsbury’s Laws of Singapore (2019 reissue)
  • Contributor, Singapore Precedents of Pleadings (2006 & 2015 editions)

Since 2013, Ian has been recognised as a leading Energy practitioner by Best Lawyers. In Best Lawyers 2022, Ian was named "Lawyer of the Year" for Construction Law in Singapore – an award conferred on only a single lawyer in each practice area and jurisdiction. Ian is also recognised by Best Lawyers for his expertise in Arbitration and Mediation, Construction Law, Project Finance and Development Practice.

In Chambers Global – The World's Leading Lawyers for Business and Chambers Asia-Pacific – Asia-Pacific's Leading Lawyers for Business, Ian is recommended as a leading Projects & Energy and Construction practitioner respectively. The Chambers guides have both described Ian as "one of the leading figure[s]", an "engineering expert", "known for acting on both contentious and non-contentious mandates" and one whom interviewees have described as "meticulous, concise and helpfully insightful", "very good and very experienced" and who "consistently deliver[s] good work".

In Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific 2021, Ian is ranked as a "Litigation Star" for construction practice in Singapore.

In IFLR1000: Energy and Infrastructure, Ian is listed as a leading lawyer in the areas of Disputes, Energy & Infrastructure and Project Development.

In asialaw Profiles The Guide to Asia-Pacific's Leading Law Firms 2023, Ian is recognised as a "distinguished practitioner" in the construction field.

Ian is also recommended for Construction work in The Legal 500: Asia Pacific – The Client's Guide to the Asia Pacific Legal Profession, where he has been recognised for his "excellent reputation for EPC".

Outside the region, Ian is recommended in The Legal 500: Europe, Middle East & Africa 2014 for construction work in the United Arab Emirates.