Vanessa Werden
Sonia Montes


A construction lawyer with over a decade of experience serving the industry, Vanessa S. Werden advises general contractors, construction managers, developers, suppliers, subcontractors, trades, and material manufacturers during all phases of construction. Named one of the “Top 40 Under 40 in Canadian Construction” in 2020 by On-Site Magazine, she is licensed to practice in British Columbia, Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Vanessa is the current Chair of the Construction Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch.

Vanessa provides advice and advocacy services for procurement and tendering; contract drafting, negotiation and review; builders liens; and, mid- and post-project claims including extra work, delay and cost overruns claims. Her experience includes the arbitration of delay, extra work and deficiency claims following the construction of hydroelectric power facilities, telecommunications infrastructure, and stadium construction litigation. Proficient at managing lengthy and complex documentation, she incorporates the most current technology to maximize efficiency in the handling of construction disputes, which are inherently document intensive.

In her dispute resolution practice, Vanessa regularly acts as counsel at mediations and arbitrations. She has also appeared before the Provincial and Supreme Court of British Columbia in chambers, for judicial review hearings and trial, as well as the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.

Vanessa has significant experience in the complex area of surety bonds. In the early years of her practice, she advanced bond claims on both performance bonds and labour and material payment bonds. Each year from 2014 to 2018, Vanessa was the guest lecturer for the lecture on surety bonds for the fourth year mandatory course “Law and Contracts in Civil Engineering” in the Civil Engineering Department at the University of British Columbia. In the past five years, Vanessa has successfully advanced claims on both labour and material payment bonds and performance bonds, achieving significant payments from sureties to her clients. Most recently between 2022 and 2023, Vanessa has:

  • Advanced two claims by a general contractor on Performance Bonds as a result of subcontractor defaults on two separate projects (one municipal infrastructure and one housing project), achieving settlements with the sureties that resulted in a payments exceeding $500,000 in less than six months from the dates the claims were made; and
  • Advanced a mid-project claim by an owner on a $48,000,000 Performance Bond on a telecommunications project, including steps ensure that her client’s claim against the surety is preserved while the project is completed.

Experience Highlights

  • Counsel to a large national contractor in an arbitration to determine claims for delays and extra costs to construct a state-of-the-art infrastructure project
  • Lead counsel for successful pre-trial business records application and member of counsel team for a major subcontractor on a complex stadium construction litigation matter, including more than 60 days of examinations for discovery on issues concerning delays, cost overruns and technical design, and construction errors and deficiencies
  • Counsel to a First Nation owner in an arbitration to determine claims for incomplete and deficient work following the construction of a private hydroelectric power facility, and defending claims by the general contractor for unpaid invoices and extra work
  • Counsel to a large North American steel fabricator in litigation over deficient roof joists following construction of a concert hall
  • Counsel to a design-builder at the mid-project referee stage concerning delay and extra work disputes during the construction of a complex hydroelectric power facility
  • Counsel to commercial fishing facility owner concerning contract drafting and negotiation with a general contractor and consultants
  • Assistant chair of the Dispute Adjudication Board on a complex tunneling project for the construction of a hydroelectric power facility

Education & Bar Admissions

  • J.D., University of British Columbia, 2011
  • Called to the Bar of British Columbia, 2012
  • Called to the Bar of Alberta, 2015
  • Called to the Bar of Northwest Territories, 2019

Rankings & Recognitions

  • Ranked by Lexpert as one of five “Lawyers to Watch” in the area of Infrastructure Law in Canada (2023)
  • Ranked by Lexpert as one of the two “Leading Lawyers to Watch” in the area of construction law in British Columbia (2023)
  • Recognized under the category of “Stand-out Lawyers” by Thomson Reuters (2023)
  • Recipient of the Canadian Bar Association (BC Branch) Community Support Award (2022)
  • On-Site Magazine Top 40 Under 40 in Canadian Construction (2020)

Appointments & Activities

  • Chair, Construction Law, Canadian Bar Association BC Branch (2021-2023)
  • Member, Regional Engineers Advisory Committee (REAC), Construction and Procurement Task Force (2022-present)
  • Director, Board of Directors, BC Road Builders & Heavy Construction Association (2022-present)
  • Committee Chair, Women in Road Building Committee, BCRB (2023)
  • Vice chair, Construction Law, Canadian Bar Association BC Branch (2020-2021)
  • Co-editor, British Columbia Real Estate Development Practice Manual – 2021, 2022 and 2023 Updates
  • Member, Programming Advisory Committee, Buildex Vancouver 2021
  • Member, British Columbia Construction Roundtable (BCCR), Promotion, Sponsorship, and Special Events Committee (2021)
  • Past President, Canadian Construction Women (Secretary 2014-2015; Vice President, 2016-2017; President, 2018-2020)

Memberships & Associations

  • Law Society of British Columbia
  • Law Society of Alberta
  • Law Society of the Northwest Territories
  • Canadian Bar Association
  • Vancouver Regional Construction Association
  • Canadian Construction Women
  • Women’s Infrastructure Network
  • BC Road Builders & Heavy Construction Association

Seminars & Speaking Engagements

  • British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA), Inside Construction Podcast, Season 2, Episode 3: “Fixed-Price Contracts in a Price-Volatile Market,” August 2022
  • Southern Interior Construction Association, 2022 CCO Workshop, “Being Proactive: Best Practices to Prevent and Manage Disputes,” April 2022
  • BC Wall & Ceiling Association, “How to avoid disputes and dispute resolution options,” March 2020
  • Buildex Vancouver, “When Trouble is (or Could Be) Brewing – the Essentials of Notice, Termination and Dispute Resolution,” February 2020
  • University of British Columbia, Department of Civil Engineering, Master of Engineering Leadership Program, “Complex Construction Disputes,” 2017-2022
  • University of British Columbia, Department of Civil Engineering (CIVL425) “Case Studies of Construction Methods,” 2017-2019
  • Vancouver Regional Construction Association, Construction 101, “Builders Liens and Disputes,” 2019-2022
  • BC Wall & Ceiling Association, “Builders Liens,” March 2019
  • Calgary Geotechnical Society, “Consultants’ Liability for Field Review Services,” February 2018
  • University of British Columbia, Department of Civil Engineering, Legal Aspects of Engineering Practice, “Bonds, drafting and interpretation of construction contracts and delay claims,” 2013-2018
  • Canadian Construction Women, “The Nuts and Bolts of Tendering and Procurement,” May 2016
  • Buildex Vancouver, “Construction Law Update: Emerging Trends and Common Pitfalls,” February 2016