Dispute resolution in Sri Lanka
D. L. & F. De Saram has a thriving and varied practice that advises both individual clients as well as domestic and corporate entities. The team has been particularly active in commercial arbitration matters and has also undertaken some public interest cases . Recent case highlights have included advising on actions challenging the awards of tenders and other cases have related to the interpretation of the laws on the prevention of cruelty to animals. It has also been active in advising on a number of reciprocal enforcement cases relating to foreign judgments and arbitration awards. Under the leadership of Savantha De Saram, Jivan Goonetilleke and Dasuni Wijayasriwardena the department is also recommended for its work on international trade disputes and admiralty matters.
‘D.L.&F. De Saram is among the few in Colombo that is capable of providing legal services to multinational corporations and offshore entities. The majority of the practices that deal with dispute resolution are small time practitioners who do not understand the sensitivities of corporates‘.
Nestle Lanka PLC
British Broadcasting Corporation
Siam City Cement (Lanka) Limited/Insee Group
Roseate Voyage S.A.
Prima Ceylon (Private) Limited
Paycorp International (Private) Limited
Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC)
Vitol Asia Pte Ltd.
China National Aero-Technology International Engineering Corporation
Hotel Developers Lanka PLC
V. V. Karunaratne & Company Limited
Premier Pacific International (Pvt) Limited
- Representing Nestle Lanka PLC (part of the Nestle Group) in the Commercial High Court in relation to a dispute about outstanding payments that are due to Nestle for goods supplied under a distributorship agreement that was entered into with a regional distributor.
- Representing Prima Ceylon (Private) Limited in a writ application that has been filed in the Court of Appeal against The Consumer Affairs Authority of Sri Lanka (CAA) challenging an Extraordinary Gazette notification issued under the provisions of The CAA Act No. 9 of 2003.
- Defending its client before the Commercial High Court of Colombo in a case relating to a dispute on the performance of a sub-contract by a subcontractor.
Julius & Creasy has a diverse practice that advises a significant number of Sri Lankan listed companies and global conglomerates on a wide range of disputes. The practice is adept at covering all aspects of civil, commercial and appellate litigation from contractual disputes to professional negligence, environmental issues, debt recovery and white-collar crime. The team has also represented clients in complex arbitrations including several international arbitrations that have been held under the rules of the ICC and the UNCITRAL. Notable names include the heads of department S. A. Carder, J.M. Swaminathan and Anandhiy Gunawardhana. The department’s associates also garner praise.
‘It is a unique practice – the partners/associates have a great deal of experience in all industries and all areas of law (litigation, insurance, notaries etc) which sets them apart‘.
‘The relationships and respect that the lawyers build with the companies, government institutions directly and its indirect involvement with legislation is a key strength‘.
‘We work mainly with Prashanthi Mahindaratne relating to litigation. She has appeared on behalf of us in many cases and to date won all the cases. These are also cases against government institutions such as customs, consumer affairs authority etc which have been great wins for our company to stay true to our values and policies‘.
‘We also work with Mr. Swaminathan who is also very experienced and very well respected in the legal fraternity in Sri Lanka. He has also advised and given us a great deal of direction in our decision making which has helped the organisation immensely‘.
‘J&C has made a decision to take on pro-bono cases in matters of the environment that not many other legal firms do. Ms. Prashanthi Mahindaratne and Mr. Shanaka Amarasinghe. They are both determined and focused individuals to the task at hand. They are both knowledgeable about the law‘.
Wildlife and Nature Protection Society of Sri Lanka (WNPS)
City Bank NA
Sabre Travel Network Lanka (Pvt) Ltd
International Committee of Red Cross
Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC)
Chevron Lubricants PLC
DFCC Bank PLC
Reckitt Benckiser (Lanka) Limited
Medtronic Inc. USA and India Medtronic Private limited
Finlays Colombo Limited
SmithKline Beecham (Private) Limited
Lankem Ceylon PLC
KIA Motors (Lanka) Limited
Standard Chartered Bank
DFP Canada Limited
Sigiriya Village Hotels PLC
Dynamic Energies (Private) Limited
Colombo Stock Exchange
- Representing Sabre Group in several connected matters – it is seeking specific performance of a commercial contract with a local online travel company which is in contractual breach.
- Representing a foreign bank in the recovery of funds that belong to the bank – these funds had been illegally remitted to Sri Lanka by cyber criminals by way of hacking into the client’s SWIFT system.
- Representing an officer of the International Committee of the Red Cross in a criminal action – the officer has been falsely prosecuted on fabricated charges of forgery and fraud by the Fraud Bureau, in a bid to cover up the actual perpetrators who are in public office.
Nithya Partners has a superb practice that advises on all aspects of corporate, commercial, banking, infrastructure and project-related disputes. Significantly the partners appear before all courts and arbitral tribunals and handle a lot of their own advocacy. The team is also known for its expertise in telecommunication matters and is increasingly acting in complex intellectual property related disputes. Other strengths include advising on customs and consumer protection issues. Chanaka de Silva is a prominent figure in the market and Aruna Samarajewa also receives a lot of plaudits. In addition the firm has recently instituted several actions on behalf of strategic insurance brokers seeking to prevent unregistered insurance brokers from carrying out re-insurance brokering businesses in the country.
‘Professional and knowledgeable. The lawyers work as a team. Very strategic in its approach‘.
‘The team studies the matter well and articulates the relevant facts. Understands the energy sector operations from construction to operations well. Mr. Chanaka de Silva (PC) has a way of obtaining clarification from the client and presenting the facts appropriately‘.
‘Nithya Partners has been my lawyers for over 12 years. Nithya as a team has overall been very professional, diligent, reliable and dedicated in handling most of our cases which have numbered over 25 in different courts in the country, some of which are also in the Supreme Courts‘.
‘Nithya Partners provides comprehensive and practical commercial and legal solutions to complex commercial and corporate issues and disputes. Its key strength is that, being Counsel, the lawyers are able to not only advise but also litigate in dispute resolution. This feature makes them unique amongst legal firms. We work very closely with Chanaka and Aruna who take great care towards us as clients and their dedication to all our needs is par excellence and that’s very comforting‘.
‘Mr. Chanaka De Silva -handles all our court related work with great diligence. A very strategic and sharp mind with a high degree of depth in his arguments in courts and also written submissions. Has a thorough knowledge of commercial law in particular. Carries the highest degree of respect in the Attorney General’s Dept having started his career as a public prosecutor and served in it for many years. He is also one who is respected by the judiciary‘.
‘Mr. Aruna Samarajeewa -acts as a head among the junior counsel in our team, though he aptly deserves to be a senior counsel having worked on our cases for over 12 years. A very important part of the link in connection to our work‘.
Sri Lanka Telecom PLC
Richard Pieris & Company PLC
Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka & Finance PLC
CCL Pharmaceuticals (Private) Limited – Pakistan
Asiri Hospitals Holdings PLC
Strategic Insurance Brokers (Pvt.) Ltd.
Bar Association of Sri Lanka
Bartleet Religare Securities (Pvt.) Limited
- Chanaka de Silva represented the then Minister of Home Affairs of Sri Lanka, in a writ application that was filed by two public interest litigants against the presidential candidate at the time (the current President, H.E. Gotabaya Rajapakse), challenging his dual citizenship – this was a matter that received a lot of publicity, as it involved the eligibility of a leading candidate for the Presidency.
- Chanaka de Silva is representing the Bar Association of Sri Lanka in a Fundamental Rights Application in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka – this involves the determination of whether Sri Lankan lawyers can legitimately practice law with foreign lawyers, through a company.
- Represented Lakdhanavi Limited in its actions against the Cabinet of Ministers and other relevant parties in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal- the matter received a lot of publicity as it involved a public procurement and the fact that the tender was sought to be given to a party who was not the lowest tenderer – the matter was heavily contested.
Sudath Perera Associates handles a vast array of commercial litigation and arbitration matters for both local and international clients with considerable expertise in key sectors such as corporate, construction, and aviation as well as defamation actions and IP litigation. It also has a dedicated team of litigators who handle banking and finance-related matters and deals exclusively with the recovery of debts on high-risk lending claims for some major financial institutions and leading banks. Sudath Perera is highly regarded and Lakshana Perera heads the civil and commercial litigation group. Deshan Hewavithana is another key figure and leads the firm’s criminal defence unit.
Other key lawyers:
China Overseas Engineering Group Co. Ltd
Ceylon Tobacco Company (subsidiary of British American Tobacco)
Ansell Lanka (Pvt) Ltd
Ruhunu Lanka Cement (Private) Limited
Fonterra Brands Lanka (Private) Limited
Home Lands Holdings (Pvt) Ltd
People’s Merchant Finance PLC
Heineken Lanka Limited
Standard Chartered Bank
Agstar Fertilizer (Pvt) Ltd
Maga Engineering (Pvt) Ltd
- Acted for A.A. Infraproperties Private Limited in the Commercial High Court in a dispute about the tallest residential apartment project in Sri Lanka.
John Wilson Partners has a wealth of experience in a wide range of commercial and civil litigation matters including those relating to corporate, construction, family and employment disputes. It is also skilled at handling pre-litigation negotiations and frequently acts for clients in international arbitrations and the enforcement of arbitral awards. Other key strengths include advising on trust disputes, defamation claims and debt recovery matters as well as contentious intellectual property issues. Mohan Rupesinghe and John Wilson are well-regarded for their work on contentious matters.
- Advising Outotec Pty Ltd. as the petitioner in the Commercial High Court – it has filed an action against National Water Supply & Drainage Board to enforce an arbitral award that was made by an international arbitration tribunal – the Commercial High Court has dismissed its application and the team has appealed against this order to the Supreme Court.
- Advising a large international company in an action against a former employee who had over the course of several years surreptitiously transferred monies from the company to his personal accounts – the firm has instituted various legal proceedings.
- Acting for the plaintiff in a case against the 1st defendant who had fraudulently deceived its client into marrying him and then purchased property using the plaintiff’s money.
Neelakandan & Neelakandan (formerly Murugesu & Neelakandan) has an active team that advises a number of Sri Lankan listed companies and global conglomerates on a wide range of disputes from the District Court and tribunals through to the Supreme Court. It handles all aspects of disputes from civil, commercial and appellate litigation and also has expertise in international arbitration and the enforcement of arbitral awards as well as admiralty and shipping disputes. Under the leadership of Pranavan Neelakandan and Saravanan Neelakandan the group is skilled too at advising clients on resolving disputes with the Government. The practice is also known for its representation of listed companies in several writ applications in environmental matters and other disputes over pricing regulations.
Research in Motion
Marriott Worldwide Corporation
St. Gobain Abrasives Limited
CIMA – Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
First Capital PLC
United Tractor & Equipment (Private) Limited
The Design Group Five International (Private) Limited
Hindage Oilfield Services Limited
Taisei Corporation of Japan
Ceylon Steel Corporation
China National Technical and Import Corporation of China
Keangnam Enterprises Limited
Public Bank Berhad
Mobitel (Private) Limited
Arpico Finance PLC
Resus Energy (Private) Limited
Findmyfare (Private) Limited
Gestetner of Ceylon PLC
Phil East Asia Construction Limited
Adamjee Lukmanjee Estates (Private) Limited
Hemas Pharmaceuticals (Private) Limited
Darshan International (Private) Limited
Built Element Limited
CINEC Maritime Campus
SMI Coated Products (Private) Limited
Lanka Reality Leisure (Private) Limited
Kelsey Homes (Private) Limited
Lalan Rubbers (Private) Limited
Sri Lanka Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industry
- Continuing to represent and act for BMW in two high profile trademark infringement cases in the Commercial High Court – the team has successfully obtained an enjoining order in one case and is confident about obtaining an interim injunction in the other matter.
- Currently advising Taisei Corporation in arbitration proceedings against one of its subcontractors for Rs.571m.
- Acted for Keangnam Enterprises in the District Court and raised a jurisdictional objection due to an arbitration clause – the matter went on appeal all the way up to the Supreme Court and the firm is continuing to act for the client where a determination is pending in the Supreme Court.
Tiruchelvam Associates represents clients in a wide range of matters from the unlawful termination of employment contracts to breach of contractual obligations. Other core focus areas include advising on family law disputes and issues that arise on any foreign investment in the country. The team has also been busy advising a major social media company on a vast array of matters. Its substantial testamentary practice has handled a sizeable number of cases involving the resealing of foreign probates. Heads of department Laila Nasry and Ayendra Wickremesekera are both skilled at handling a substantial and varied caseload of complex disputes.
Galadari Hotels (Lanka) PLC
Sri Lanka Eye Donation Society
Centre for Eco- Cultural Studies ( ECS)
Aswini Weeraratne and Hishani Kirby
- Continues to represent Galadari in all its litigation.
- Has handled a significant amount of work for one of the world’s leading social media companies and has provided advice on various issues such as take down requests, intermediary liability and election laws.
- It has instituted an action on behalf of a client for the resealing of a foreign probate that was issued by the High Court of Justice, District Probate Registry of Winchester, in respect of the estate of the late Una McCauley – this is one of the three resealing actions which the firm has filed over the last 12 months.