Real estate and construction in Sri Lanka

D. L. & F. De Saram

D. L. & F. De Saram has an excellent team that routinely advises on a range of deals, as well as the regulations for foreign ownership of Sri Lankan land, lease agreements and title registration issues. Another key area of expertise is conducting real estate due diligence as part of M&A deals. With Savantha De SaramPrabash De Saram and Aruni Marcelline at the helm, the practice also has considerable expertise in advising construction companies on various projects. In addition the team is well-placed to advise on any gifts of land and real estate finance.

Key clients

GVR Lanka (Private) Limited

Elysian Mirissa (Private) Limited

Alpha Homes (Private) Limited

Rockland Distilleries (Pvt) Ltd

Arkeway Realty (Pvt) Ltd

EliSh Development (Pvt) Ltd

Expo Property Developers (Pvt) Ltd

Rentokil Initial Ceylon (Private) Limited

Tissa De Silva Trust

F P E Ruhunu Shakthi (Private) Limited

East India Holdings (Private) Limited

Fintech Labs (Private) Limited

GPV Property Solutions (Private) Limited

Capital Alliance Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised and drafted title documentation for Fintech Labs (Private) Limited, a subsidiary of Saudi National Technology Group, on the acquisition of real estate for the setting up of their office premises in Si Lanka.
  • Advised and drafted the title documentation for F P E Ruhunu Shakthi (Private) Limited, a subsidiary of Fourth Partner Energy (India), on the lease of real estate to set up their solar power project.
  • Advising and drafting documentation for the condominium project that was undertaken by Alpha Homes (Private) Limited to set up 45 units of residential condominiums.

Nithya Partners

Nithya Partners handles a vast array of construction and real estate matters ranging from commercial, residential and agricultural property developments to property-related issues for scientific developments and conservation projects. Seanika Pulle heads the department, which also frequently conducts real estate finance work. Oshini Siriwardhana is another notable member of the team who specialises in a wide range of property law and conveyancing issues.

Practice head(s):

Seanika Pulle

Other key lawyers:

Oshini Siriwardhana

Testimonials

‘Seanika Pulle is very experienced and thorough when dealing with complex real estate transactions and conducting due diligence’.

Nithya Partners, as the name suggests, are life-long partners. You can trust their legal opinion that it will hold in any court of law . I chose to work with Nithya and partners because you can Trust them wholeheartedly. Their solutions to issues are always innovative, clear and they are not afraid to think outside the box. The quality of work is of international standards and their legal team is not only extremely qualified but extremely pleasant to work with‘.

The team at Nithya Partners is approachable, easy to contact and quick to respond. Whilst they undoubtedly have many urgent matters to prioritise, they will always keep us aware of reasonable timelines within which to expect a response. They have delivered on the promised date‘.

They are detail oriented and have taken the time to explain and clear any doubts we may have. They provide a level of assurance and direction needed for clients‘.

Sudath Perera Associates

Sudath Perera Associates has a broad and varied real estate and construction practice, with recent work including government-related transaction, freehold and leasehold property transactions and land registration matters. Dharshika Herat Gunaratne  heads the team.

Other key lawyers:

Nihara Perera

Testimonials

‘They are prompt and provide a comprehensive service. They are very approachable and are easy to work with. Having worked with  Dharshika Herat Gunaratne (Partner) I know that they provide an excellent service and try to ensure all aspects of a legal matter are addressed. Nihara Perera (Snr. Associate) also provides an exceptional service’.

‘They have very competent officers with diverse special interests. All areas are therefore very well covered’.

‘Competent, very helpful and patient’.

‘Problem solving skills, attention to detail and mostly the level of priority they place on the work at hand is commendable’.

‘Moving fast. In our experience most lawyers and law firms tend to need continuous follow ups from the clients’ end in order to get the job done. At Sudath Perera associates we have constantly experienced a sense of urgency from the firm’s side to expedite matters and conclude without delay. In the real estate and construction industry time is money’.

The entire team is very professional and has expertise in the respective areas. Based on the requirements of the client, they also assist/ refer the client to other teams/ divisions/ sections with a lot of interest and follow up to cater to clients’ requirements efficiently and effectively. Each and every team member is very knowledgeable and capable in their own area of work and are very helpful in meeting the client’s requirements/ expectations‘.

Key clients

PROVIDENT CAPITAL (PRIVATE) LIMITED

MICRO CONSTRUCTION (PVT) LTD / MICRO CARS (PVT) LTD / MICRO HOLDINGS

MJF LEISURE PRIVATE LIMITED/ MJF GROUP/ MJF HOLDINGD LIMITED (DILMAH TEA)

STATE BANK OF INDIA

SAMSUNG INDIA ELECTRONICS (PVT) LTD

FOUNDATION OF GOODNESS

MAGA ENGINEERING (PRIVATE) LIMITED

HUEJAY INTERNATIONAL MULTIFLORA (PVT) LIMITED / HUEJAY DEVELOPMENT (PRIVATE) LIMITED

ZAM HOLDINGS LIMITED

REGUS LANKA NUMBER 1 PRIVATE LIMITED / COLOMBO OFFICE FOUR PRIVATE LIMITED / OFFICE COLOMBO HOLDINGS PRIVATE LIMITED

INDIAN OVERSEAS BANK

FONTERRA BRANDS LANKA PRIVATE LIMITED

TOYOTA LANKA (PRIVATE) LIMITED

LEMURIA (PRIVATE) LIMITED

SANOFI LANKA LTD

MACKSONS HOLDINGS

NIPPON PAINT LANKA PRIVATE LIMITED

Work highlights

  • The real estate department has executed over 50 mortgages for the State Bank of India during the period from June 2020 to date.
  • Conducted a property due diligence for Macksons Holdings so that it was able to make an informed decision about purchasing two properties.

F. J. & G. De Saram

F. J. & G. De Saram has a wide-ranging practice that advises on diverse areas such as property ownership and the creation of security over properties in addition to all types of commercial contracts and lease agreements. The team under the leadership of Manjula Ellepola is also well-regarded for its work on mixed development projects and condominiums, as well as the real estate aspects of M&A deals.

Practice head(s):

Manjula Ellepola

Other key lawyers:

Santhushi Wickramasinghe

Testimonials

‘Their diligence and thoroughness specially for the purchase of real estate in Sri Lanka has been of invaluable help to me personally. They actually take care of everything and they leave no stone unturned to ensure that everything is in order. They are very diligent, which I think is a great help in the longer term. Manjula Ellepola is a seasoned professional. She knows the sector exceptionally well and she also enjoys an outstanding reputation in this category in the country. In fact it is believed that if she pursued a land/property purchase you can rest assured that there will not be anything overlooked‘.

‘Legal drafting of contracts, quality of professionals. Santhushi Wickremasinghe of FJ&G De Saram’.

We recognise FJ&G de Saram as one of the best firms engaged in real estate and construction practices. The team consists of well talented and experienced members‘.

Key clients

MAS Fabric Park (Private) Limited

Brandix Group

State Bank of India

Jetwing Hotels

Hayleys Group

Intrepid Group of Companies

Roshanthi Fernando

Ranil de Silva

Nations Trust Bank PLC

Indian Overseas Bank

Mr. JMS Brito

Aitken Spence PLC

Logiwiz Limited

Advantis Projects and Engineering Company (Private) Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Aitken Spence plc by conducting a due diligence study of the real estate aspects of a company’s subsidiaries prior to an acquisition.
  • Advised Piramal India Private Limited by conducting a vendor’s due diligence study of the real estate aspects of company’s subsidiaries prior to the acquisition.
  • Regularly advises MAS Fabric Park (Private) Limited in the preparation of the Supplemental Agreements, Sub-Lease Agreements, and Cancellation of Lease/License Agreements pertaining to the properties in which the client conducts its business operations, attending to the execution thereof, and attending to the registration thereof at the relevant Land Registry.

Neelakandan & Neelakandan (formerly Murugesu & Neelakandan)

Neelakandan & Neelakandan (formerly Murugesu & Neelakandan) handles a range of real estate and construction transactional matters and advises many developers, land owners and purchasers on condominium law, deeds of transfer and the registration of instruments of title. It is also skilled at representing clients in property litigation. It is well-regarded for its advice to clients on foreign ownership issues and on conducting due diligence on local and foreign real estate investments. Sashidevi Neelakandan; Janani Rajeswara and Pranavan Neelakandan lead the practice.

Key clients

The Design Group Five International (Private) Limited

Keangnam Corporation of Korea

Dunamis Capital PLC

Nextventures Limited

Kelsey Homes (Private) Limited

Singer (Sri Lanka) PLC

Lanka Hotels and Residencies (Private) Limited

Mustafa Group of Singapore

Elisabeth Moir School

Work highlights

  • Continuing to advise Nextventures Limited on the acquisition of its 14.5-acre land by the Government and on the enhancement of its compensation claim of Rs.2.6bn before the Land Acquisition Board of Review. The team represented the client throughout the land acquisition inquiry.
  • Continuing to advise the developer of the Sheraton Hotel in Colombo since its inception in Sri Lanka. The team advised the  client on the purchase of several plots of land for the expansion of its project and carried out due diligence of the title and advised on each step until the execution of the deed of transfer and also advised on the construction documentation and construction disputes which arose along the way.

Tiruchelvam Associates

Tiruchelvam Associates has a busy real estate and conveyancing practice, which acts for both foreign and domestic clients. Asanka Abeysekera and her team handle property sales, leases and mortgage deals. The group also assists clients who live outside Sri Lanka by helping with any applications for special permission from the Central Bank to transfer funds overseas and by assisting clients with various applications for tax clearance certificates.

Practice head(s):

Asanka Abeysekera

Testimonials

‘Personal approach, using technology in communications with the client and its diversity make Tiruchelvam Associates special. The partners & associates are very approachable via electronic media or via individual telephone services. They are very courteous and helpful – nothing is too much for them.’

‘I also need to mention that during the pandemic where travel restrictions were in place, I was unable to travel to Colombo to sign a lease agreement that they had prepared. They made sure that the Power of Attorney was drafted for me, organised to get me to sign it electronically and then got one their staff to take to the person who was given power of Attorney to sign the necessary documents without charging me extra and giving me confidence that matter was handled in a very professional and compassionate manner’.

‘The exceptional service and attention to detail. They go over and above to make sure that my work gets the best possible attention’.

‘Asanka Abeysekera is a true legal superstar. She has helped me countless times, and is one of the most careful, knowledgeable and helpful people I have ever met’.

‘They are very collaborative and capable. The client is very free to raise any question at any time with the firm. Always they are going with new technology and diversity. Each and every individual who I had to contact was very capable. I have bothered them many times to explain the same thing to me. But they replied to me in the same manner without any argument‘.

Key clients

CARE FOR EDUCATION

MITSUI & CO. LTD

GALADARIHOTELS (LANKA) PLC

Work highlights

  • Advised the client on the construction aspects of the expansion of its Sri Lankan factory.
  • Advised Care for Education (a not for profit subsidiary of a US based agency) on receiving immovable properties situated in Sri Lanka which involved examining the restrictions on land ownership by non-Sri Lankans.
  • Advised the client on a condominium unit that was purchased by the client by paying full consideration, to enter into a sale and purchase Agreement with the developer as the mortgage on the property is yet to be relieved by the bank.

Varners

Varners has a well-established reputation for its work on a range of real estate matters in Sri Lanka and is involved in several development projects. Recent highlights have included advising on numerous high-rise condominium properties and a number of large-scale mixed development projects. It has also advised on several major public housing schemes as well as projects relating to land reclamation. Raj Selvaskandan is among the key contacts at the firm.

Testimonials

‘In our land transaction, they were able to help immediately and validate title and fix the issues with the title and they were able to negotiate a very good price. They have provided effective solutions and are very helpful. Mahinda Haradasa is an expert in any complex real estate transaction. He provides brilliant and innovative solutions to our problems. He advised immediately over the phone whenever necessary and resolved our questions. He negotiated the best deal for us’.

‘A thorough team of commercial lawyers headed by one of the best in region Raj Selvaskandan. This firm works towards making deals happen of course fighting for and protecting the clients’ interests to the tooth and nail – but they always facilitated us to make the deal happen. Raj is one of the most commercially and practically savvy lawyers you can find anywhere I would say. His presence of mind, going through the detail at the same time not losing the big picture – works very well for us. We have found him to be putting the clients’ interest first before anything else and has the gravitas to get all the parties to see the right path and move in the right direction. Raj’s knowledge of the industry is well respected and sought after‘.

Professional, diligent, practical. They have an exceptional eye for detail in my experience, coupled with real-world knowledge towards the transactions I conducted. Instead of simply leaving everything to be a commercial call, they were able to provide creative solutions to help enhance the transaction and mitigate the issues at hand. One of the long standing issues for real estate transactions in this part of the globe is the establishment of the title pedigree followed by approval from the relevant local government bodies and federal government bodies, for the property. The firm was able to provide a detailed report of the existing pedigree beyond the necessary scope. Detail-oriented, focused, efficient‘.

‘They don’t miss a beat. Rajaratnam Selvaskandan, a senior partner at the firm, oversaw the majority of all my real estate transactions and conducted the operations with precision and practicality. Nilanthi Perera, a partner at the firm, was tasked with the research and due diligence into the actual lands that were being secured and purchased. She, along with her team, were able to provide me with detailed title reports and a complete picture of the lands themselves. Her keen sense, eye-for-detail and diligence are factors that make her integral to any real estate transaction, in my opinion‘.

Key clients

CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd.

Colombo City Centre Partners (Private) Limited

Galle Face Properties (Private) Limited

Phoenix Ventures (Pvt) Ltd

Capitol Towers Limited

42 Residences (Pvt) Ltd.

Makro Developers (Private) Limited

Kings Garden Residences (Pvt) Ltd.

Asia Tractor Lanka (Pvt) Limited

Jaysons Holdings

Fedaa Ghanem- Arasi Resort Pvt. Ltd

Link Natural Products (Pvt) Ltd

Prasanna Kannangara for Jitvan Kannangara

Consolidated Housing (Pvt) Ltd

Hatton National Bank PLC

Egyptian Embassy- Sri Lanka

Work highlights

  • Advising CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd. (CPCC),  through China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), which is part of China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC). CCCC is listed on the Hong Kong and Shanghai Stock Exchanges and is the world leader in port design and construction. The Colombo International Financial City (CIFC) is a brand-new city development being built as an extension of the Central Business District of Colombo. The CIFC development is governed by a tripartite agreement between Megapolis and Western Development Ministry, the Urban Development Authority and CPCC. It is the largest FDI project in Sri Lanka and will become the new engine for economic and social development.
  • Advising Colombo City Centre Partners (Private) Limited in relation to a 47-storey mixed use development, comprising a five storey 3,675 m² retail space, a 164-room hotel and 192 residential apartments. The client has sought the services of Marriott International, a leading hospitality company, to manage and operate the hotel segment of the development.
  • Retained by Galle Face Properties (Private) Limited  to advise on a project –  which will consist of ‘A’ Grade premium office space, office amenities, service suites, recreational areas and ample parking situated in the central business district of Colombo. The team has been retained to advise on all matters relating to the development of the project, including advising on Government regulations, project financing, construction law related matters, and project documentation.