Russell Thirgood


  • +61 7 3233 8853
  • +61 438 644 002
  • vCard

Russell is a dispute resolution and construction law expert who practises predominantly in the resources industry and in the development of significant infrastructure.  He is uncompromising in his approach to work and in the pursuit of successful outcomes for clients.

Russell was included in the Australian Financial Review Best Lawyers list for Construction Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution.  Most recently, Russell was awarded the Lawyer Monthly 2016 Alternative Dispute Resolution Lawyer of the Year Australia award.

Russell heads up McCullough Robertson’s Arbitration Group.  In 2013, McCullough Robertson was awarded Lawyer Monthly’s Arbitration and Litigation Law Firm of the Year.  He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (London), the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration and the Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia.  Russell drafted the arbitration rules for the Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia.

Russell is actively mobile, working between his offices in Sydney and Brisbane and spending as much time as possible on the ground with his clients either in their corporate offices or at their projects.  He is motivated by the challenges that significant, complex projects and disputes present and he focuses on solving clients’ legal issues and achieving great commercial outcomes.

He is a trusted adviser and regularly assists clients in relation to procurement strategies, tender processes, contract negotiation, execution and administration, risk management, conflict avoidance mechanisms and dispute resolution, including domestic and international arbitration.  Michael Stewart QC and Past President, Australian Bar Association, states: “In his field Russell Thirgood is much sought after by experienced litigants because of his intelligence, diligence, toughness, commercial nous and above all experience in large scale construction disputes.”

William Haseler, General Counsel, Adani Mining Australia, also commented: “Russell is a highly experienced dispute resolution lawyer and trusted advisor.  He is outcome driven and over the past four years has helped Adani nullify over AUD$100 million in construction claims.”

Russell advises government and major private sector companies on significant infrastructure projects and dispute resolution.  He is a skilled strategist and is passionate about effectively driving projects and disputes to successful completion.  He understands what is essential within a given commercial context in order to add value.

Some of Russell’s recent work includes:

  • very complex domestic arbitration involving significant infrastructure, 15.5 million documents, 50 witnesses and experts and over 100 claims and cross claims
  • conducting successful litigation for Yancoal in the Federal Court, Court of Appeal and Land and Environment Court in relation to its Ashton assets in NSW
  • advising on all major construction and supply contracts for Whitehaven Coal’s  Narrabri Mine and Gunnedah CHPP in NSW, running the procurement process and handling disputes
  • acting for Adani in relation to its Carmichael Coal Project in Queensland where he and his team designed all of the contracts for the mining and construction work, creating a complete package of layered and connected contracts and running the dispute resolution process, as well as managing the completion of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal, which Adani has acquired
  • working for the Ports Corporation of Queensland and North Queensland Bulk Ports in relation to the $1 billion expansion of Abbott Point Coal Terminal, and
  • enforcement of international arbitration awards including obtaining freezing orders over Australian assets in the Federal Court in Sydney for Indian and Singaporean clients.

Russell’s strong background in the implementation of projects has given him a solid understanding of the complete construction lifecycle, including project outcomes and deliverables, identifying and mitigating risk and successfully resolving disputes.

A leading authority on alternative dispute resolution, he is a graded arbitrator, qualified adjudicator and the editor of the nation’s pre-eminent alternative dispute resolution journal The Arbitrator & Mediator.  Russell has held positions on a number of boards in the roles of Chairman and Director and is currently a Director of the Resolution Institute and the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration.

Russell has successfully represented clients in all forms of dispute resolution including litigation, international arbitration, domestic arbitration, mediation, case appraisal, expert determination, adjudication and negotiation.

He is an adjunct lecturer in Advanced Construction Law for the University of Melbourne’s Master of Laws Program, and in Commercial Arbitration for the University of Queensland’s Undergraduate Law Program. Russell has also authored the Alternative Dispute Resolution Chapter for Butterworths Loose Leaf Series on Forms and Precedents.  

Russell has recently completed Harvard Law School's Executive Program on Negotiation (June 2016).

Russell is an Accredited Mediator through the National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS).  

Best Lawyers Award Badge

Russell Thirgood