Nasir Khan FCIArb

Nasir is a skilled and dynamic leader providing total solutions of estimating, procurement, commercial, dispute avoidance, management and resolution through effective pre & post contract management. He is versatile and well-versed in successful delivery on major projects including energy, utilities, property, oil & gas, manufacturing, ports, highways and rail infrastructure.

Nasir has led large and complex claims on quantum, delay and engineering issues. Nasir is an engineer, chartered surveyor, chartered procurement director, and legally qualified. He has Fellowship of various institutions and acts as an expert, mediator, adjudicator and arbitrator. In 2020, Nasir was awarded MBE for his services to the rail industry.

Why have you decided to specialise in arbitration and adjudication? Tell us about your legal journey to ADR.

I graduated as a civil engineer, practiced procurement and later qualified as a quantity surveyor. My involvement in ADR, claims and disputes was mostly as a client employing experts and lawyers. I have always believed in fair and reasonable assessment of claims and yearned to resolve them amicably. My passion to specialise in arbitration and adjudication led me to follow in the footsteps of several famous practitioners. I entered the King’s College construction law and dispute resolution masters and continued my legal education by attaining LLB from University of Law. Now, I am on CIArb’s Approved Faculty List and regularly lecture and teach on dispute resolution and claims avoidance best practice. I now lead major infrastructure projects and offer a Dispute Advisory Service.

What do you consider to be the biggest challenge in your career?

I have been raising this concern for some years and there is still a very slow turnaround with the diversity in arbitration or in general dispute resolution practice. As a reminder I always explain that diversity is not just about gender, we need to raise awareness with regards to age, disability, race and religion or belief as well. Perseverance is challenging but also brings its reward. I think the biggest challenge for any new arbitration, adjudication or ADR practitioner is to gain that first appointment. I am still searching for my first as a sole arbitrator.

If you had a time machine, what piece of advice would you give to yourself at the beginning of your career?

Follow your heart and what you enjoy most. I have always enjoyed what I have done, and that has led to learning and developing continuously. My advice will be to remain content and be thankful for everything that I have done and continuing to do so.

In 2015, I was reading a book and learnt this quote from Umar, one of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Them), “In our society happiness has been equated to success. True happiness is found by reversing this equation. Do not work hard to be happy, rather be happy to work hard and that will keep you happy forever”.
My outlook to everything that I do and will do has changed since.

Is there any particular jurisdiction in which you see a lot of potential for ADR in the future?

I was invited by the Chief Justice of Pakistan in 2018 to give a lecture on ‘Judicial interference in arbitration in Pakistan’ at the 8th Judicial Conference, which was held in Islamabad under the tile ‘ADR in Pakistan’. It was agreed to promulgate alternative dispute resolution by creating professionalism amongst practitioners and users with global standards. There has been enormous amount of development.

Housing and infrastructure development are set to increase in Pakistan over the next decade. There is a need for a strategic approach to ADR to ensure that national infrastructure projects such as CPEC support economic growth and are completed on time and on budget. The avoidance and management of disputes must be a fundamental part of this approach to encourage further investment and support the recovery.

CIArb will play an important role to promote ADR and to protect the CIArb professional standards and values by maintaining consistent and excellent high-quality standards as the global leading dispute resolution institute. CIArb’s Pakistan Branch is in progress and I am hopeful that with all legislative requirements fulfilled, it will open by the end of 2020.

Are there any developments in the field of ADR which you consider to be current “hot topics”? What is your opinion on them?

ADR compulsion is a toxic concept, despicable and tends to generate unduly emotional reactions and only ADR process can support mutuality (Civil Mediation Council response Dec 2017). We need to raise further awareness of ADR benefits to the general users so that it is both seen to be fair and actually be fair in practice. I concur with the government’s aspiration of making ADR the mainstream dispute resolution process and litigation the alternative. It is important for all involved that the ADR process is voluntary. Without parties being mutually willing to come to the table and resolve issues the ADR process risks becoming no more than another step in the litigation process.
Mediation should be attempted in all cases even if all that it does is achieve a greater understanding by the parties of each other’s positions. As per Professor Frank E. Sander’s wise advice:

“there is a difference between coercion into mediation and coercion in mediation”.

Tell us about your interests, hobbies or activities outside of work.

My hobby is running after my three young boys who, like their father, love sports. I am an FA licensed coach and manage my sons’ football team. I am always keen on mental and physical fitness and enjoy weight training, running or walking outdoors.

My interests are to explain, share and get into conversations about my faith, culture, practices and thought process. Never did I imagine that my passion will turn in to forming a network of like-minded people and co-founding a social enterprise called Muslims in Rail C.I.C and assisting several Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives globally.

With great pleasure, I am sharing that I was awarded MBE in Her Majesty’s Birthday 2020 Honours List for the services of raising EDI awareness for BAME and Muslims communities in the UK.

Tell us a short war story from your ADR experience.

A few years ago, I was advising a client leading a final account completion for a large complex infrastructure project where there had been many delays and scope change. The client wasn’t willing to pay any more. My personal and professional ethics required me to carry out a fair and reasonable assessment of the cost. I applied CEES (Cause, Event, Entitlement and Substantiation) - a process that I had recently learnt from one of CIArb’s annual adjudication surgeries. It became apparent that there were several causes that had led to delay events. The entitlement came from the contract, common law and statutory interpretation. Despite the fact that clients are knowledgeable in their field, it can be challenging to explain why they need to pay more, but as an ADR practitioner I had to put myself in their shoes. My experience as a qualified engineer, chartered procurement director and chartered quantity surveyor with a legal qualification, equipped me with the skills required to negotiate a settlement between the parties. The claim did not proceed further.

Nasir Khan FCIArb