William Frain-Bell

Nationality: British
Languages: English, French (Conversational)

William Frain-Bell is a Chartered Arbitrator with extensive experience in corporate and commercial international arbitration.

His expertise includes high value, complex construction, shipping, property and investor state disputes. His particular focus is on construction related disputes in the Middle East and he has a good working knowledge of the UAE Civil Code.  He is also the Convenor of the Faculty of Advocates’ Dispute Resolution Service (FDRS) which is one of Scotland’s arbitrator appointing bodies. 

He is a recognised and accredited CEDR Mediator and accepts mediation appointments regularly.

William is a keen rally navigator, sailor, golfer and skier. He has sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and keeps a Folkboat in Crinan, Argyll. He holds a Motorsport UK international cross-country rally licence and in 2019 was second in class in the Africa Eco Race from France to Dakar in Senegal. He is also a member of the Faculty of Advocates Yacht Club.

William has significant experience in these areas. From 2010-2014, he was one of the most frequently instructed counsel in the Dubai World Tribunal (DWT) set up within the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts (DIFCC) following the insolvency of Dubai World and its subsidiaries in the wake of the 2008 global economic crash.  He has represented parties in disputes including unfair termination, variation and delay, sub-standard construction and sub-contractor disputes. In 2017, William spent 4 months in Mumbai advising one of India’s largest infrastructure companies in an investor-state claim brought against the Republic of Mauritius.

William has significant experience in disputes arising out of Sale and Purchase Agreements, particularly those subject to the UAE Civil Code. 

Part of the international legal team in a claim brought by a US energy company against Cambodia relating to the delivery of power to the capital Phnom Penh.  Junior counsel in an investor-state claim brought by a Singaporean shipping company against Mauritius in a dispute relating to the supply of oil to the country.  Junior counsel in a claim brought by an Indian infrastructure company against Mauritius in relation to the construction of a major residential development in the capital city.

Recognised as a leading commercial junior by the Legal 500, William has over 20 years’ experience in advising parties in commercial disputes throughout the UK and globally. 

As Arbitrator 

  • Acting as arbitrator in several arbitrations under the Arbitration Act 1996 (UK).
  • Appointed as Respondent’s nominated arbitrator on the 3 arbitrator Tribunal in an ICC US$60m insurance dispute arbitration involving parties in Bermuda, London and Hong Kong.
  • Appointed as sole arbitrator in DIFC-LCIA construction dispute relating to a delivery failure of a Dubai tower block.
  • Appointed Chairman of panel of 3 arbitrators in a DIAC arbitration regarding payment dispute in relation to the hiring and usage of construction plant hire machinery.
  • Appointed as sole arbitrator by the Scottish Branch Panel in an arbitration involving a family jewellery business (dispute settled soon after appointment) under the Scottish Arbitration Rules.
  • Appointed as sole arbitrator in a dispute regarding the sale of concrete by a Swiss company to a Cameroon company. Subject to the Arbitration Act 1996.
  • Appointed as sole arbitrator in a dispute regarding a shipping demurrage dispute. Subject to the 3 of 4 Arbitration Act 1996.


  • Junior Counsel in US$150m investor-state dispute (India and Mauritius) under the UNCITRAL Rules.
  • Junior Counsel in US$200m shipping dispute (Contract of Affreightment) under the rules of the SIAC.
  • Counsel for the claimant in AED200m non-payment/EOT application dispute in the DIAC.
  • Counsel for the claimant in US$2m breach of contract claim relating to the sale and distribution of mobile phones in Hong Kong under the rules of the LCIA.
  • Advised claimant in respect of a proposed ICSID claim (denial of justice) as a result of failures in the legal system of the Slovak Republic.
  • Acted for the claimant in a property development dispute under the Scottish Arbitration Rules.
  • Acted for the claimant in a dispute involving the construction of a farm building under the Scottish Arbitration Rules.
  • ICSID Arbitration - Cambodia Power Company v The Kingdom of Cambodia [ICSID Case No. ARB/09/18] Junior counsel for the claimant in a US$250m power supply dispute.
  • DIAC Arbitration - Counsel for the successful claimants as sole counsel in an AED250m unfair termination arbitration relating to the construction of a twin-tower block in Dubai.
  • DIAC Arbitration - Seconded deputy to law firm (Pinsent Masons) international arbitration partner in an AED60m arbitration involving the quality of the construction of the largest structure of its kind in the world.
  • DIAC Arbitration - Counsel acting for the successful purchaser claimant in respect of an AED8m dispute with a master developer relating to the construction of a villa development in Dubai.
  • DIAC Arbitration - Counsel for the successful developer claimant in respect of proceedings with a value of AED12.5m concerning the sale of properties of land in Dubai. Thereafter acted for the claimant in UK High Court enforcement proceedings.
  • DIAC Arbitration - Counsel for the claimants in an AED15m dispute against a developer in respect of breach of contractual obligations leading to contract termination.


  • Called to the Bar of England & Wales (Middle Temple), 2000
  • Called to the Bar in Scotland, 1999
  • Qualified as a solicitor with Tods Murray WS, Scotland, 1998
  • LLB at Aberdeen University, Scotland
  • MA at St Andrews University, Scotland


  • Junior to Office of the Advocate General (Home Office) 2016-2020
  • Convenor of Faculty of Advocates Dispute Resolution Service (FDRS)
  • Chartered Arbitrator
  • Visiting Lecturer/Tutor in International Arbitration - Aberdeen University
  • Panel Member of the CIArb President's list of approved arbitrators (Scottish branch)
  • Accredited Mediator (CEDR)
  • Governor of Loretto School 2016-2021
  • Diploma in Blockchain Strategy from the Said Business School, University of Oxford
  • Panel Member of the Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM)
  • Panel Member of the Shanghai International Arbitration Commission (SHAC)
  • Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb)
  • PG Dip. International Commercial Arbitration - QML
  • Probationary Member of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV)
  • Member of Thomas More Chambers, London
  • Member of Terra Firma Chambers, Edinburgh
  • Member of the Faculty of Advocates Council


William Frain-Bell has acted as counsel in a broad range of disputes before courts and tribunals throughout the UK and abroad. He is also a Chartered Arbitrator and accredited CEDR Mediator. He is ranked Tier 1 for Commercial Litigation in the latest edition of the Legal 500 (2019) which describes him as "Excellent in court; a joy to work with."  In addition William was, "Highly regarded for his expertise in rural property and agricultural disputes" (Chambers UK, 2014), "The impressive William Frain-Bell of Terra Firma Chambers excels in the farming and rural property realm. He also has a great deal of experience in international arbitrations". "He is outstanding." (Chambers UK, 2013).

In 2021 William was published in the Journal of Enforcement of Arbitration Awards writing about Qatar, “Enforcement’s ‘Coming Home’ – Remember Qatar?  Pre-World Cup Optimism for the Recognition and Enforcement of Arbitral Awards”.

Contact Us

To acquire availability, check conflicts and discuss appointments, please call +44 (0)207 936 7070 or email info@arbitra.co.uk

"He has a great deal of experience in international arbitrations".

Chambers UK

"He is outstanding."

Chambers UK