Ray Turner

Very sadly Ray Turner passed away on Saturday 24th July after a short illness. 

Born in Leeds in 1928, he entered the construction industry as a trainee Quantity Surveyor, studying at York Technical College.  Whilst there, he won an IOB Travelling Scholarship, with a Kemsley Award, which took him to the United States to study American building methods.

At the age of 23 he co-founded, Turner and Holman, Chartered Quantity Surveyors. Through his practice he was involved in a wide variety of projects throughout the British Isles, with particular interest in the development of measurement techniques for works of restoration.  He also frequently advised in litigation, arbitration and insurance matters relating to construction contracts. 

Having practised as an Arbitrator since the mid-60s, he was at one time one of fewer than 200 Registered Arbitrators.  He was appointed on approximately 300 occasions, principally in relation to disputes in the construction industry until his retirement from this role in 1997. He continued as a Member of the VAT and Duties Appeals Tribunals until 2001.  In addition to this he acted as advisor and/or expert witness in arbitration and litigation and was listed on panels of arbitrators maintained by various professional institutions as well as the Northern Arbitration Association and the Hong Kong Panel of Arbitrators. 

In 1989 Ray began meeting with six other experienced Construction Arbitrators to discuss arbitral matters and developments in dispute resolution. The group expanded and in 1996 became known as ‘Turner Arbitration Chambers’ named after its senior member.  

Ray was appointed as external examiner for the degree in Quantity Surveying at Leeds Polytechnic, later becoming an adviser and occasional lecturer. In 1994 he was involved in establishing the MSc in Construction Law and Arbitration (now MSc/LLM Construction Law & Dispute Resolution) at Leeds Beckett University and becoming its visiting Professor of Arbitration until 2005, delivering his final lecture at the age of 77.  As Course Director of the above since 2002, I and my students had the privilege of greatly benefitting from his wise counsel and expertise.

As well as his long association with the university he has also been an examiner for other professional bodies, and a tutor on various courses in arbitration practice for the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.  He has been: Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators; a Vice-President of the Academy of Experts; a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ Quantity Surveyors’ Practice Board; and he was a Founder Member both of the Society of Construction Law and the Society of Construction Arbitrators.  He has lectured widely on related subjects in the UK and abroad. 

In 2005 he published a book entitled ‘Arbitration Awards: A practical approach', which is still recognised as a leading authority on award writing. In the foreword, Lord Bingham of Cornhill describes Ray as “the doyen of English lay arbitrators in the construction field”, a view that many of his students over the years have endorsed.

Ray was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science from Leeds Beckett University in 2005. This was in recognition of his outstanding contribution and commitment to the University, the construction industry and the arbitration profession. 

Ray will be missed by many professional and academic associates.  He contributed greatly to the arbitration and academic communities, touching the lives of many students and associates.  The greatest loss, however, will be felt by his wife Bea, their three children, two grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Martin Green
Course Director MSc/LLM Construction Law & Dispute Resolution
Leeds Beckett University