Paloma Chambers

Areas of Law

Merissa is regularly briefed to advise and appear on complex construction matters including:

  • Complex engineering, particularly in large transport infrastructure matters
  • Challenges to the enforceability of adjudicators’ determinations under the Security of Payments legislation, for jurisdictional error and natural justice.  This includes issues such as existence of a ‘reference date’, validity of a payment claim, contractual or statutory pre-requisites, whether there are “new reasons” in payment schedules, whether adjudication application properly made, discharge of the adjudicator’s statutory function, adequacy of reasons and whether determination is without foundation and illogical
  • Consideration of licensing issues and in particular effect of carrying out, or undertaking to carry out building work without an appropriate licence under s.42 of the QBCC Act
  • Payment claims arising under contracts or the statutory framework in Security of Payments legislation and the QBCC Act 1991 (Qld)
  • Extensions of time, complex critical path cases and enforceability of liquidated damages provisions and the penalty doctrine, including consideration of the penalty doctrine
  • Commercial issues concerning disallowed costs, entitlement to compensation events or variations
  • Defects / workmanship
  • Support of excavation / foundations / civil / MEP / sigalling / geotechnical / waterproofing / tunnelling 
  • Testing and commissioning
  • Transport infrastructure specialist, with significant experience in infrastructure for trains, planes and automobiles

During her time in the UK (2001 – 2013), Merissa:

  • Published two books: Construction Adjudication and Payments Handbook (Oxford University Press, 2013) and Encyclopedia of Forms and Precedents, Building and Engineering (Butterworths Lexis Nexis, 2008)
  • Was recommended in the UK Legal 500 for contentious construction law
  • Was promoted to Partner at Trowers & Hamlins, City and International Law Firm, litigation department, construction team
  • Worked on some of the largest infrastructure disputes in the world, including the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, London Underground Limited and the West Coast Main Line

Encompassing many different areas of law, Merissa’s recent experience includes:

  • Professional negligence 
  • Breach of contract
  • Misleading and deceptive conduct under the Trade Practices Act / ACL
  • Penalty doctrine 
  • Director duties
  • Contract interpretation 
  • Termination / repudiation
  • Unjust enrichment / restitution
  • Interpretation and application of insurance provisions and exclusions
  • Apportionment between different parties
  • Limitations and consideration of whether a new cause of action arises from substantially the same facts as pleaded in the original Statement of Claim. 

Merissa’s early career at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (a Commonwealth statutory authority) and then its merits review tribunal at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (Associate to Deputy President Forgie) fostered a deep respect for administrative / public law.

Merissa’s recent experience includes:

  • Resisting several Supreme Court applications under the Judicial Review Act 1991 (Qld)
  • Successful appeal against penalty following guilty plea for the reckless operation of a vessel in contravention of s.13(2) of Schedule 1 of the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012(Commonwealth DPP, Junior to John Agius SC)
  • Appealing QBCC and Queensland Home Warranty Scheme decisions to QCAT
  • Right to information

Whether pursued as the stand-alone cause of action or as an alternative in commercial disputes, Merissa’s recent experience in the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) includes:

  • Misleading and deceptive conduct under the Trade Practices Act / ACL
  • Applications for refund / replacement / repair of motor vehicles for defects, lack of durability or failures for fitness of purpose under the ACL


In addition to general litigation, Merissa’s experience in avoiding and resolving disputes in other fora includes:

  • International arbitration – from 2018 – 2021, Merissa was involved in a complex engineering USD900m dispute, as part of a large international multi disciplinary team representing the designer of Middle Eastern transport infrastructure
  • Tribunals such as QCAT
  • Statutory adjudication under the Security of Payments legislation across Australia
  • Expert determination – whether binding or non-binding, for example the use of QCs to determine liability and costs
  • Mediation / ADR

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