Max Abrahamson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Max Abrahamson (29 October 1932 – 7 October 2018) was an Irish lawyer, internationally recognized as an expert in construction law.


Abrahamson was the son of Tillie Nurock and surgeon Leonard Abrahamson, whose Jewish families left Eastern Europe around the beginning of the 20th century. Following his education at Sandford Park School, Dublin, Max Abrahamson entered Trinity College in 1949 where he was elected a Trinity Scholar. He qualified as a solicitor in 1955.[1]


There was very little work for lawyers in the very economically- depressed Ireland of the 1950s and he supplemented his earnings by lecturing engineering students in contract law in Trinity College. This led to this becoming his area of special expertise.[1] He later lectured in King's College, London, and in China.[2] In 1965 he published Engineering Law and the ICE [Institution of Civil Engineers] Contract. It became known as "the engineers' bible" throughout the world. He later developed the "Abrahamson Principles" first published in 1973. This was a theory to allocate risk in construction contracts. These principles were to become widely used internationally.[1]

Over the course of his career he consulted in over 60 countries. He consulted on major projects in Ireland such as the Jack Lynch Tunnel, the West Link Toll Bridge, the International Financial Services Centre, and outside of Ireland the Heathrow rail tunnel, Eurodisney, the Bahrain Causeway and various projects in Asia and Africa.[1]

Legal philosophy[edit]

Abrahamson was a strong proponent of the elimination or narrowing of the distinction between barrister and solicitor, and bemoaned the fact that solicitors had become excessively adversarial. Both of these views stemmed from his belief that the good of the client must come first.[2] A computer buff, he urged solicitors to embrace computing in their work or lose out to those who would.[1]

Artistic work[edit]

Abrahamson sculpted in clay and had bronze works exhibited at the RHA. He also did wood carving in his office to relieve the working day. His masterpiece as a woodcarver was an interpretation of Jacques-Louis David's Napoleon Crossing the Alps.[1]


  • Abrahamson, Max, Engineering Law and the ICE Contract. 1965 (fourth edition, 2003)
  • Abrahamson, Max W., "Risk Management" (1983) in International Construction Law Review 241,244.