Dispute resolution in Sri Lanka

D. L. & F. De Saram

D. L. & F. De Saram has a broad and varied practice that advises on a wide spectrum of issues from high-value complex commercial disputes for both domestic and international businesses through to private client family law matters. With Savantha De SaramJivan Goonetilleke and Dasuni Wijayasriwardena at the hel,m the team is particularly active in commercial arbitration and has also undertaken some major public interest litigation challenging executive and administrative actions in matters as diverse as public procurement through to the law on the prevention of cruelty to animals. Recently, the group has been busy too advising on a number of reciprocal enforcement cases pertaining to foreign judgments and arbitration awards. Other core strengths include advising on admiralty matters and international trade law.

Key clients

British Broadcasting Corporation

Prima Ceylon (private) Ltd

Nestle Lanka PLC

Siam City Cement (Lanka) Limited/Insee Group

Hotel Developers Lanka PLC

The Swadeshi Industrial Works PLC

V.V. Karunaratne & Company Limited

China National Aero- Technology International Engineering

Operations (CATIC)

Work highlights

  • Representing Nestle Lanka PLC (part of Nestle Group) in the Commercial High Court in respect of a dispute arising from a distributorship agreement entered into with a regional distributor on account of outstanding payment due to Nestle for goods supplied.
  • 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
  • Representing the BBC in a District Court action instituted against the BBC by a well-known local businessman who is a founder and co-founder of a leading Sri Lankan News channel and advertising company. Judgement was entered in favour of the BBC and now the appeal is pending.

Julius & Creasy

Julius & Creasy fields an excellent team that advises on a broad spectrum of contentious matters from civil and commercial litigation through to areas as diverse as white-collar crime, constitutional and administrative law and environmental matters. In addition the group has represented many clients in complex arbitrations involving governmental bodies and private companies, under ICC and UNCITRAL rules, among others. Anandhiy Gunawardhana is among the key members of the team along with SA Cader, who frequently represents clients in the Admiralty Court. Other major clients include various Sri Lankan listed companies and large international businesses.

Other key lawyers:

Prashanthi Mahindaratne

Key clients

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

Timemark Limited

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

Euro Capital

Colombo Stock Exchange

Onally Holding PLC

Work highlights

  • Representing Sabre Group in several connected matters in seeking specific performance of an agreement which provides for damages in the event of breach.
  • Representing a foreign bank in the recovery of the funds belonging to the bank which had been remitted out by cyber criminals.
  • Representing an officer of the  International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC] in a criminal action who has been falsely prosecuted for producing fabricated evidence.

Nithya Partners

Nithya Partners has a nimble team that specialises in all aspects of corporate and commercial litigation as well as banking and financial, infrastructure and project-related disputes. The team, which handles much of its own advocacy, also has particular expertise in telecommunications cases and IP-related disputes. It is also adept at handling complex consumer and customs litigation. Chanaka de Silva PC is a well-respected practitioner is notable in both litigation and international arbitration, and Aruna Samarajewa  also has a broad practice and handles a wide range of civil and commercial litigation matters as well as commercial arbitrations. The firm acts for a number of notable banks and energy companies, among others.

Other key lawyers:

Sachintha Kahandage

Testimonials

The dispute resolution team at Nithya Partners is versatile with its advice and approach to problem solving. The lawyers bring in a multidisciplinary perspective which is a great value addition at the strategy and negotiation stage. Chanaka De Silva PC is extremely detail oriented and hands on in the drafting process. His unique selling point is guiding and advising the client through the process‘.

‘A key strength is the business orientated solutions and practical advice rendered. Can always be reached for an urgent matter and response is very quick/immediate. The team is able to draw on the expertise of other practice groups within the firm as and when required‘.

‘Chanaka De Silva PC has criminal, civil and commercial law background and experience and is able to draw on this when rendering advice. Has good communication skills and is able to explain legal concepts simply to non-lawyers and commercial teams. Clients value the advice rendered, as well as the fact that he is available for quick advice and legal support when urgent matters arise‘.

‘Team members are friendly and approachable and also use advanced technology to liaise with the clients. Partners are knowledgeable and well experienced in their own areas of laws. They are also amicable in nature and approachable. Provide practical legal solutions for the problems in hand‘.

‘Nithya Partners is unique – it has a practical approach, client centric, adds value, easy accessibility, provides an exceptional service. Team has diverse skills and competencies coupled with ‘hands on’ experience and value added services. Partners of the firm are multi-disciplinary and there are reasonable charge out rates and no hidden costs and no surprises. Uses the latest technology in the practice. I have personally experienced how the Partners argue cases and how forceful and focused they are in giving the value added service to their clients’.

‘The partners are well experienced in their field and are able to offer practical advice. Aruna Samarajeewa is extremely helpful and assists with many of the queries even at short notice amidst his busy schedule which is a quality we value greatly’.

‘A very professional approach is taken in analysing the matter in hand and the response to the relevant claims. Understands the industry well. Charges are reasonable. Understands the industry. Very systematic approach. There is a two way communication. Sachintha Kahandage is a notable senior associate‘.

Key clients

Sri Lanka Telecom PLC

Richard Pieris & Company PLC

Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka & Finance PLC

CCL Pharmaceuticals (Pvt.) Limited – Pakistan

Vidullanka PLC

Lakdhanavi Limited

Asiri Hospitals Holdings PLC

Strategic Insurance Brokers (Pvt.) Ltd

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka

Bartleet Religare Securities (Pvt.) Limited

Renuka Capital PLC

Tudawe Brothers (Pvt.) Limited

Work highlights

  • Represents Tudawe Brothers (Private) Limited, a joint-venture partner of the consortium constructing Phase II of the Central Expressway. in a dispute concerning the joint venture partners and the project employer; the Road Development Authority of Sri Lanka. The Central Expressway Project is a highly publicised project in Sri Lanka, as it is meant to create a gateway to the Central and Northern regions of the country.
  • Chanaka de Silva PC is representing the Bar Association of Sri Lanka in a Fundamental Rights Application in the Supreme Court, on the issue of whether the practice of law in Sri Lanka could be conducted by persons not registered as Attorneys-at-Law by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, through a corporate entity incorporated by foreign parties.
  • Represented the Solicitor General of Sri Lanka in a Commission of Inquiry established by the President of Sri Lanka, in which she was named a respondent, and subsequently representing her  in the Fundamental Rights action filed, challenging the findings of the said Commission.

Sudath Perera Associates

Sudath Perera Associates has a first-rate team that deals with high-profile litigation and complex arbitration matters. Core areas of expertise include advising on commercial, corporate and contractual disputes as well as other areas such as contentious real estate, regulatory and banking matters. It is also skilled at handling labour and industrial disputes, white-collar crimes, IP litigation and criminal defence work. Managing partner Sudath Perera is well-regarded for his vast experience across the disputes space. The practice heads are Lakshana Perera, who heads the dispute resolution, civil and commercial litigation group and Deshan Hewavithana, who leads the criminal defence unit. Manoj Bandara is another key figure who handles a spectrum of litigation and alternative dispute resolution matters for the firm.

Testimonials

‘Sudath Perera Associates is equipped with a highly trained, motivated, and efficient team in its dispute resolution section. Its capabilities in civil and criminal dispute resolution including managing investigation processes with the Criminal Investigation Department of Sri Lanka are commendable. Partner – Sudath Perera; Partner- Lakshana Perera’.

‘With regards to dispute resolution the knowledge, experience and legal options that are given are much appreciated. The firm’s senior leaders represent clients in all inquiries and are readily available for any inquiries‘.

‘Manoj Bandara – highly reputed counsel amongst many senior arbitrators, industrial boards and the judiciary. Sudath Perera – Very good at planning strategies proactively. Thidas – Very good at studying finer points in disputes and bringing out convincing arguments’.

Key clients

Maga Engineering (Pvt) Ltd

Maliban Biscuits Manufactories (Pvt) Ltd

Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company

Auto Miraj

Fonterra Brands Lanka (Private) Limited

Home Lands Holdings (Pvt) Ltd

Pan Nippon Development

People’s Merchant Finance PLC

Orient Finance PLC

Standard Chartered Bank

Agstar Fertilizer (Pvt) Ltd

Work highlights

  • Initiated defamatory actions on behalf of Maliban Biscuit Manufactories in the District Court of Colombo relating to the “Lemon Puff” products.
  • Initiated an action in the Commercial High Court under Sections 224 and 225 of the Companies Act No. 7 of 2007 on behalf of a shareholder of the company.
  • Advising Asia Broadcasting Corporation (Private) Limited and Derana Macro Entertainment (Private) Limited, both being popular media networks in Sri Lanka, on a defamation action filed against them and another local media network.

F. J. & G. De Saram

The team at  F. J. & G. De Saram is led by Avindra Rodrigo PC. It provides advisory as well as advocacy services to a wide range of local and foreign clients in all of the local courts, tribunals, administrative and statutory bodies. The team is also recommended for its work on complex international arbitrations. Rodrigo PC is immensely experienced in advising on all aspects of commercial disputes before the courts and arbitral tribunals, and regularly appears before the the appellate courts as well as before the Labour Tribunals too.

Practice head(s):

Avindra Rodrigo PC

Testimonials

The team is clearly experienced in litigation and arbitration in Sri Lanka. We also found them willing to be flexible during the pandemic: they got everything done that needed to be done in spite of the sometimes severe restrictions. We particularly appreciated them going above and beyond in navigating the backlog in the courts and ensuring that the hearing dates were maintained so as to ensure the continued progress of the dispute. We found Avindra Rodrigo PC confidence-inspiring: he clearly knows the law and the practice in Sri Lanka, and gave us the reassurance we needed to move forward with the dispute in an unfamiliar jurisdiction‘.

The firm has dedicated power to handle each specialised area of the practice and they are exceptionally competent in such areas. Speed in responding and accuracy of the advice given are at a very high level. The team does lots of pre-preparations before any consultation and is very resourceful during the consultations‘.

FJ&G de Saram assisted our company in quite a complex dispute with an international ICC arbitration held in Singapore. The team which assisted us before, during and after the arbitration was extremely professional, all members of the law firm worked very hard and showed excellent skills. Avindra Rodrigo PC was the key person of the firm who assisted us. Somebody in Sri Lanka told me, before we started the arbitration, that he is “the best litigator” in Sri Lanka. I really feel this is correct, because he was just fantastic in all phases of the arbitration‘.

FJ&G de Saram’s legal knowledge is up to date. They have an excellent approach to dispute resolution. Solutions are very practical and commercially cost effective.‘.

‘FJ&G de Saram is the classic legal firm with contemporary practices. It has a young and vibrant team guided by the senior and seasoned attorneys. The team delve into details using all kinds of resources including social media in gathering the relevant information to deal with the case’.

‘The team is quick and responsive, especially in urgent cases. The lawyers have a sound grasp of international legal and commercial principles which allows for easy alignment of litigation strategy. There is partner-level engagement at most times which makes for easier and more effective case management’.

Key clients

Interna Contract SPA

Dialog Axiata PLC

Siemens Limited, India

Nyras Limited, UK

Haecker Kuechen GMBH & Co. KG, Germany

Pöyry Switzerland Limited

IFS AB, Sweden

Ceylon Beverage Holdings PLC

Lanka IOC PLC

State Bank of India

Work highlights

  • Successfully acted for Dialog Axiata PLC and Dialog Broadband Networks (Private) Limited in challenging the allocation of the mobile frequency spectrum by the Sri Lankan telecommunications regulator to a State-owned competitor.
  • Successfully advised and appeared on behalf of Nyras Limited in negotiating a settlement in proceedings relating to the liquidation of the national carrier of Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan Airlines.
  • Successfully advised and appeared for Interna Contract SPA in arbitral proceedings and in enforcing the arbitral award in Sri Lanka, in relation to a dispute under the contract for the interior works for the Grand Hyatt Project in Sri Lanka.

Neelakandan & Neelakandan (formerly Murugesu & Neelakandan)

Neelakandan & Neelakandan (formerly Murugesu & Neelakandan) fields an team that advises a number of Sri Lankan listed companies and prestigious foreign clients on a wide range of disputes at the District Courts and tribunals all the way to the Supreme Court. Recent highlights have included appearing in the Court of Appeal for several listed companies in various writ applications for relief against the State on a range of environmental matters. The team also boasts substantial expertise in international arbitration and in the enforcement of arbitral awards, as well as admiralty cases. Pranavan Neelakandan and Thishya Weragoda head the practice.

Key clients

BMW AG

Panasonic Corporation

Research in Motion

Marriott Worldwide Corporation

Cargill Incorporated

Tramontina SA

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

Ceylon Steel Corporation

China National Technical and Import Corporation of China

Keangnam Enterprises Limited

Nextventures 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

Cinemas Limited

Kelsey Homes (Private) Limited

Lalan Rubbers (Private) Limited

Sri Lanka Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industry

Litasco Middle East DMC

Work highlights

  • 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 in obtaining an interim injunction in the other.
  • Continuing to act for Marriott in the High Court and Supreme Court after it instituted an action and was successful in obtaining an interim injunction against a local hotel from using the word “Courtyard”.
  • Representing Litasco Middle East DMCC in an arbitration matter.

Tiruchelvam Associates

Tiruchelvam Associates has an agile team that handles all aspects of litigation from advising on how to resolve potential disputes to representing clients in court. The team covers a broad array of matters from family disputes to commercial litigation, and is also well-regarded for its work in corporate investigations, private client litigation and handling whistleblowing claims. Laila Nasry  heads the department. Ayendra Wickremesekera is another prominent member of the group who is vastly experienced in handling a sizeable caseload of  difficult cases and is particularly skilled at advising on labour law cases.

Practice head(s):

Laila Nasry

Other key lawyers:

Ayendra Wickremesekera

Testimonials

The team takes good time to collect the needed input and the necessary details to come up with the correct next step/action. The lawyers care about the tiny details in order to ensure that no gaps are left. Professionalism in every and each step‘.

‘The team worked well together, coordinated its work well and delivered a good product within the agreed time. Laila Nasry is very service-orientated, works well in English and had a good, solution-orientated approach‘.

Key clients

ITCA Global Services B.V.

Srikantha Motors

Dilini Gunatilleke

Sarvodaya Sustainable Economic Enterprise Development Limited

Galadari Hotel (Lanka) PLC

Work highlights

  • Acted for a leading global manufacturing conglomerate in carrying out a legal investigation to inquire into a complaint received from an employee of the Sri Lankan subsidiary of the client, alleging financial fraud committed by the senior management of the said subsidiary, in relation to the procurement of goods and services.
  • Advised a private client on the best course of action to pursue in instituting legal action against a leading blue-chip company in Sri Lanka, which is the owner of a top hotel chain, due to whose negligence the client suffered life threatening personal injury.
  • Successfully negotiated and settled a potential dispute between the client ( ITCA Global B.V. – a global watchdog for software licensing compliance) and an international construction company carrying out foreign sponsored government projects and that was involved in software piracy and software licensing infringement.