Karen Spencer


Gateley Legal

  • Manchester
  • t: 0161 836 7888
  • m: 07850 862 282


Karen is a nationally recognised expert in surety law, specialising in advising on bond wordings and disputes in relation to performance bonds, indemnities and guarantees issued for construction projects.

She advises on resolving construction disputes, commercial disputes and professional negligence cases. She also has particular expertise in advising on disputes arising in relation to nuclear-decommissioning projects. She has worked internationally in cooperation with clients and lawyers overseas in relation to large bonded contracts, notably shipbuilding, factories and power plants.

Karen has advised on a number of reported cases, including the leading case on performance bonds. She is a co-author of PLC Manual on ‘Bonds, Guarantees and Standby Credits’.

Karen also sits as a Deputy District Judge, which brings valuable and unique insight into how cases are viewed by the ultimate decision-maker.

How do you help clients?

I love working with clients in the surety industry and helping them through issues such as tricky bond wordings and dealing with and resolving disputes.

I enjoy advising on complex, multi-party disputes. We strive to add value by helping our clients to keep up to date with new cases, changes and developments which could impact their work.

In 2015 I formed the Gateley Surety Academy with the aim of promoting knowledge of surety law within the surety industry. One of our USPs is that we have always promoted knowledge of surety law through issuing blogs and articles, delivering seminars and workshops and forming the Gateley Surety Academy. It is not easy to find out about surety law as it is such a specialised area so we try to support our clients in the surety industry through our emphasis on education and know-how.


  1. Advising a leading surety syndicate in respect of a £400m pension bond syndication deal, drafting a bespoke new bond for this purpose.
  2. Drafting expert determination provisions to be included in performance bond wordings.
  3. Negotiating and advising on the wording of performance bonds; including advising on bespoke and unusual wordings.
  4. Advising in relation to claim on performance bond following the insolvency of the contractor where liability was not in issue but quantum was. Successfully resolved at a without prejudice meeting.
  5. Advising a contractor on a claim for Compensation Event arising under NEC3 form of contract based on ground 12 – physical ground conditions. A successful result achieved in favour of contractor at adjudication.

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