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Shani Gunawardana LLB, BA

Senior Associate

Shani Gunawardana's practice focuses on high value, complex disputes arising out of construction, engineering and infrastructure Projects.

Shani advises a range of clients including Contractors, Private Sector Entities and the Public Sector in relation to points of contractual interpretation, defect / design liability, on-going operational issues and compliance with mandatory legislative standards.

Shani is experienced in both domestic and international dispute resolution including litigation and ADR (including adjudication and mediation). She works closely with technical experts and Counsel from leading construction and engineering sets to deliver excellent advice and successful outcomes for clients.

Shani provides clear, pragmatic, real world advice which is commercially focused. She is passionate about assisting clients to strategically reach their objectives. 

Professional QualificationsBarrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand


  • Leading Senior Associate on a distressed Prisons Project placed into administration. Acting for both the secured Lender and the Administrators on a joint instruction under which I lead twelve workstreams for the objective of maximising recovery for the Lender through either Project stabilisation or termination.
  • Advising a major international infrastructure investor in multiple disputes relating to a range of defects on a project for the design, construction and operation of 8 schools in the north of England. Providing long term strategic advice and acting on disputes with the local authority, construction joint venture and facilities management company as well as funder liaison. Matter ongoing.
  • Acting on a series of disputes arising from three high value social housing projects. The disputes related to significant refurbishment failings, issues of contractual interpretation (including deductions and the operation of the payment mechanism) and service issues. The strategy devised and implemented for the three projects (which were in distress) secured stability for the projects and resolved historic operational and liability issues.
  • Acting for a multi-investor Project Co in respect of both upstream and downstream disputes arising from a hospital project. This matter was resolved through a complex range of dispute avoidance and resolution strategies put in place to limit the Project Co's exposure to deductions and effective stabilise the Project when it was at the risk of termination. The risk portfolio (estimated at over £80 million) was settled after a protracted negotiated settlement over a two-year period
  • Advising a UK local authority in defending claims totaling GBP 110 million arising from the construction phase of a project to extend a metropolitan light rail system in England. The resolution strategy included a multi-party mediation process to resolve the 30 most significant claims. Matter concluded 2020.
  • Advising a facilities maintenance and management contractor on claims arising from the maintenance of a large social housing project under a 25-year concession agreement. Advice related to pursuing multiple disputes in respect of defect claims pursuant to the Interface Agreement.
  • Advising a multi-investor SPV in respect of a defect claim arising on a Building Schools for the Future Project. Advice involved creating a holistic strategy to resolve the defect claims and liability for historic deductions in light of impending limitation, funder issues and authority management.

Secondment – Senior Solicitor Inhouse UK Construction Contractor:

  • Acting as part of the inhouse legal team for a leading construction contractor including both transactional and disputes work. Including:
    • acting as lead lawyer on an ongoing construction project (£187 million) where multiple disputes arose including an entitlement to extension of time claim, material supply issues and preparing and executing multiple deeds of variations;
    • successfully negotiating a standstill agreement in respect of limitation to prevent an Employer bringing proceedings in relation to a major residential and commercial project; and
    • providing adhoc day to day advice on a variety of matter across a range of UK Project.


  • English
  • Sinhala
  • Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand, Bachelor of Laws, 2014

  • Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand, Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Political Science and International Relations,) 2014

  • College of Law New Zealand, Professional Legal Studies, 2014                                                                                                                                          


  • SESG in Construction - Six ways the construction industry is innovating to deliver ESG demands, 21 March 2022
  • Construction Adjudication: The emergence of Low Value Dispute Resolution Schemes, 3 August 2020

Prior Experience

  • Advising an FM Contractor through the operational phase of the PFI in the on-going rectification of defects. As well as
  • Acting for a multi-investor Project Co in respect of multiple disputes arising from a hospital project. This matter was resolved through a complex range of dispute avoidance and resolution strategies put in place to limit the Project Co's exposure to deductions and effective stabilise the Project when it was at the risk of termination.
  • Advising Project Co in respect of defects identified in a social housing project. The issuing arising include contractual interpretation of the notification provisions, and limitations of liability under the contract, defect issues (fire compartmentation and fire stopping) and the on-going rectification of defects.

Memberships And Affiliations

  • Member of the Society of Construction Law

  • Technology and Construction Solicitors' Association (TeCSA) – Diversity & Inclusion Committee (Committee Member)