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Leanie van de Merwe specializes in international and domestic arbitrations with a particular focus on construction, engineering, and energy matters.

Ms. van de Merwe gained an LL.B. and LL.M. from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 2009 and 2012 respectively, and qualified as an attorney in South Africa in February 2011. She started her career as legal counsel and analyst for the Competition Commission of South Africa where she was responsible for investigating and prosecuting anti-competitive business practices. Ms. van de Merwe moved to Qatar in 2014 where she took up a teaching post at Qatar University before joining private practice.

Dispute Resolution

  • Acted for an offshore oil and gas engineering construction company based in Abu Dhabi (Respondent) in a DIFC-LCIA arbitration (Dubai seat) against an international marine engineering contractor in its EUR 11m. claim for outstanding payment and additional costs as a result of alleged variations and delays to the completion date of the project. The Project relates to the development of an oil field in Abu Dhabi.
  • Acted for a hotel owner (Respondent) in a DIAC arbitration (Dubai seat) against an international contractor in its AED 39m. claim for alleged delays, disruption, and variations to the contractor's scope of work. The project relates to the construction of a 3-star hotel in Abu Dhabi.
  • Acted for the owner of a military production and storage facility (Respondent) in Abu Dhabi in an ADCCAC arbitration (Abu Dhabi seat) against the main contractor in its AED 32m. claim for losses arising from the late completion of the work.


  • Carried out review of consortium and subcontract agreements and advising and drafting of a new suite of contracts for a UAE based construction company in respect of the supply and installation of intelligent traffic systems for the Dubai RTA Project.
  • Carried out contract review for a Middle Eastern medical center in respect of their architect of record consultancy services agreements (bespoke agreement) and their construction contract with the main contractor (FIDIC Red Book, 1999) in relation to a hospital project in Dubai.
  • Carried out contract review for a UAE property development group on their consultancy services agreement with the architect  in relation to a hotel project in Dubai.
  • Advised a retail conglomerate in relation to its external façade contracts with a UAE mall owner.


  • Negotiated settlement agreements with seven major oil companies in South Africa. Subsequent to the referral of this matter to the Competition Tribunal, the CCSA reached settlements with a number of these companies which admitted to contravening the Competition Act amidst allegations of fixing the price of bitumen.

Pro Bono

  • Successfully negotiated a settlement agreement on behalf of two individuals in their payment claim against a financial consultancy firm based in Qatar.

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Dubai Legal Affairs Department (2018-present)
  • Member of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces, South Africa (non-practicing member)
  • Member of the Society of Construction Law (SLC) Gulf
  • Associate, The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb)