Architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is counter-suing engineer Jacobs over a multibillion-pound engineering scheme in Qatar.

Jacobs claims it is owed £4.7m in unpaid fees on the Doha project and is taking action against SOM for failing to pass on the payment.

But the architect has hit back with a counter-claim of over £1m, saying that no further sums are due, and alleging inadequate design and flawed costing against the engineer.

A lawyer for Jacobs, which asked for a summary judgment on the original claim from the High Court, told the court that SOM’s claim was “manufactured, spurious and to be treated with considerable caution”.

At the hearing, Justice Coulson awarded a summary judgment against SOM of £68,766 and ordered it to pay £343,199 into the court if it wished to pursue the counter-claim. SOM has already incurred as much as £200,000 in legal expenses before the main dispute has even reached the High Court.

It also emerged that SOM architect Ashley O’Connor had accidentally sent an e-mail in April to Jacobs UK calling the payment issues “another fun thing to deal with” and saying partner Peter Magill “really does not want to pay these guys”.

O’Connor later admitted it had not been intended to be sent to Jacobs.