Firm Profile > D. L. & F. De Saram > Colombo, Sri Lanka

D. L. & F. De Saram
Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka > Banking and finance Tier 1

D. L. & F. De Saram has a skilled team that is adept at advising on both domestic and cross-border banking and finance projects. Key members of the team include Savantha De Saram , Prabash De Saram  and Aloka Nandasena. The department routinely acts as local counsel on major cross-border transactions alongside leading international law firms. It has considerable expertise in a diverse range of banking and finance matters including acquisition financing as well as secured and unsecured syndicated lending. It is also recommended for its advice on exchange control laws and derivative products. Aruni Marcelline is another key member of the team that predominantly acts for multinational corporations, financial institutions and international banks.


It has  a good and a technically sound team‘.

‘Savantha De Saram is an experienced practitioner. Hansi Abayaratne is responsive and reliable‘.


Key clients

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group / Nexi S.p.A

Pan Asia Banking Corporation and Symbiotics SA

Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait BSC


Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, Sri Lanka

Citibank, N.A., Singapore Branch

Wells Fargo Bank, N. A

Capital Alliance Partners Limited

Standard Chartered Bank – Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka > Corporate and M&A Tier 1

D. L. & F. De Saram has a first-class team that is experienced in both domestic and cross-border M&As, as well as capital market transactions and infrastructure projects. The firm receives a steady flow of referrals from major international law firms to act as local counsel on key deals. The group is well-placed to advise on a vast array of matters relating to foreign investment, regulatory compliance, competition and antitrust as well as restructurings, insolvency and taxation. Senior partner Savantha De Saram co-heads the team with Aloka Nandasena. Associate Hansi Abayaratne also receives plaudits for her transactional experience.

Other key lawyers:

Key clients

Odakyu Group

HCL Technologies Limited, India

Ellerston Capital Limited

UCP Group

Hexapol AB

Insearch Limited

HPL Properties (West Asia) Pte Ltd

John Wiley & Sons, Inc

Sri Lanka > Dispute resolution Tier 1

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‘.


Key clients

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

Sri Lanka > Labour and employment Tier 1

D. L. & F. De Saram has a strong practice that advises both local and foreign clients on the full array of labour and employment matters. It is skilled at advising on matters as diverse as setting up a business in the country through to employment due diligence reports and employment issues as they arise on a corporate restructuring. The team is also praised for its advice on handling complaints and inquiries before the Labour District Offices and other bodies as well as for its expertise at advising on severance/termination issues and on employee remuneration and benefits. It also works with a whole host of international law firms under the leadership of Jivan Goonetilleke  and Manjula Sirimane .


The team has proven to be very knowledgeable and responsive throughout our time working with it.  We originally engaged it for just one matter but were so impressed with how the lawyers handled it that we have been asking the team to take on more and more.  The lawyers have been very helpful with substantive legal advice but even beyond this, they have been very effective at discussing approach and strategy and setting out the different options available‘.

When the lawyers have provided cost estimates, they have honoured them even when the work turned out to be perhaps a bit more than initially envisioned. In addition, although we did not ask them to monitor developments in our case, they continued to provide updates and were able to flag a couple of developments to us before the COVID-delayed notification reached us, which really helped us prepare and respond‘.

Jivan Goonetilleke combines a strong knowledge of the law with an excellent ability to explain strategic options in a way that enables non-employment and non-Sri Lankan in-house lawyers to make informed decisions about the next steps.  He has been flexible in accommodating our preferences in terms of approach while simultaneously providing clear advice on what he thinks the best course of action would be.  He has been wonderfully responsive, even on minor questions‘.

‘The team is very quick to respond to questions.  The team provides practical and useful advice.  I contact the team from the US and its advice is easy to understand and to relay to our client. JIVAN GOONETILLEKE is extremely quick to respond to my requests (even with the time difference from the US).  He is very dependable and a pleasure to work with‘.

Reasonable and practical legal advice. Quick response and turn around. Is able to explain the risk and options. Seems to have good and diverse experience‘.

Key clients

Allianz Group



HCL Technologies Limited

Siam City Cement (Lanka) Limited [ Sri Lankan entity of the Siam City / “Insee Group”] [formerly Holcim Lanka Limited part of the Lafarg Holcim Group]

Nestle Lanka PLC

ZTE Corporation


Tesco Sourcing


London Stock Exchange Group

Ineight NoWiley Global Technology (Private) Limited

Fresenius Medical Care Asia-Pacific Limited

Virtusa (Private) Limited

Mines Advisory Group

International Research & Exchange Board (IREX)

Nokia Solutions & Networks Limited

Dewhirst Group




Toll Global

Plan International

Pernod Ricard Lanka (Private) Limited

The Coca-Cola Company

Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific Pte Ltd

Ceylon Oxygen Ltd (part of the Linde Group of Companies)

Sri Lanka > Projects and energy Tier 1

With Savantha De Saram and Aloka Nandasena at the helm at D. L. & F. De Saram the team has substantial expertise in energy and infrastructure projects. The group frequently works alongside international law firms and has considerable prowess in the power sector (renewable and traditional energy, generation and distribution). The team also garners praise for its work in oil and gas, transport and utilities as well as the social infrastructure sector. It has been involved in some notable projects and is adept at advising on all aspects of a project from the preparation of concession agreements through to advising on the public procurement framework as well as the regulatory framework and licensing requirements. Associate Hansi Abayaratne is another key member of the department.

Other key lawyers:

Key clients

Sugih Energy International Pte Ltd, Singapore

CMC Engineering Export GmbH of Melchers Group, Germany

Seoyoung Engineering Co., Ltd, South Korea

Bluesky Power (Private) Limited

China Harbour Engineering Company Limited

PowerchinaKunmingEngineering Corporation Limited

Octogona India Pvt Ltd

CCECC – HPRB – HNRBI Joint Venture (Private) Limited

Sri Lanka > Real estate and construction Tier 1

D. L. & F. De Saram has a first-rate team that advises on a myriad of real estate and construction issues such as restrictions on foreign ownership, land and condominium acquisitions as well as mortgage and lease deeds. In addition the group is adept at advising construction companies on mixed development projects. The group has been busy too in conducting due diligence exercises on real estate and is also well-regarded for its work on registering transfers of property and in obtaining all necessary local authority approvals. Senior partner Savantha De Saram along with Prabash De Saram and Aruni Marcelline head the department.


The team is responsive and commercial on fees. The lawyers are collegial, responsive and friendly‘.


Key clients

Ceylon Oxygen Limited

The Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited

GVR Lanka (Private) Limited

CMC Engineering Export GmbH

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

Standard Chartered Bank

Sri Lanka > Shipping Tier 1

D. L. & F. De Saram is one of the preferred firms in Sri Lanka for several P&I Clubs and international shipping conglomerates. It handles a vast array of shipping and admiralty matters and specialises in rem actions/ship arrests as well as cargo claims and vessel mortgage enforcement proceedings. It is also rated for its skill at handling salvage and ground handling disputes. The group is a known name too for its advice on other issues such as vessel collisions, fire and cargo disputes in addition to the purchase, appraisement and the sale/registration of vessels. Jivan Goonetilleke and Savantha De Saram  head the practice and associate Nadine Puvimanasinghe is another key figure in the department.

Other key lawyers:


Strong marine knowledge. Well connected and knows the procedures‘.


Key clients

Mercmarine Group of Companies (Mercmarine Emerald Shipping Company, Sri Lanka and Germany)

Fleet Management India Private Limited

The North of England P & I Association Limited

The Shipowner’s Protection Limited

Steamship Insurance Management Services Limited

Orient Overseas Container Line (China) Co. Limited. (“OOCL”)


Vitol Asia Pte Ltd

Assuranceforeningen SKULD (Gjensidig)

The Standard Club Europe Ltd (as managed by Charles Taylor & Co Limited)

Darby Maritime Limited

Sri Lanka > Tax Tier 1

D. L. & F. De Saram has a superb tax practice that advises on a myriad of tax issues such as direct and indirect taxation and compliance matters as well as advising on other issues such as tax incentives and exemptions for investors. It is also rated for its work on double taxation issues and on the structuring of transactions in a tax efficient manner. It also garners praise for its work on various tax issues on cross-border deals. In addition, the team is well placed to represent clients in various tax disputes. Key members of the team are Savantha De Saram,  Prabash De Saram and Aloka Nandasena.

Key clients

Tesco International Sourcing Limited

Sri Lanka > Private client Tier 2

The team at D. L. & F. De Saram has a solid reputation for its work on wills and probate matters as well as intestate, succession and estate management issues. The agile team also has considerable strength in matrimonial matters. Shanthi John is recommended for her work in this area and Niveditha Abayaratne is another name to note.

Sri Lanka > Intellectual property Tier 4

With Prabash De Saram, Aloka Nandasena and Hasanthie Manukulasooriya  at the helm at D. L. & F. De Saram the team continues to be active in registering national and international trademarks. It has also been busy registering patents and industrial designs and was recently involved in the first registration of 3D international trademarks in Sri Lanka. The practice is also well-equipped to advise on disputes about the infringement of IP rights and is well-versed in all aspects of deals that relate to IP such as conducting detailed due diligence exercises and negotiating license agreements and assignments.

Key clients

Kalbe International Pte Ltd

Jagro (Pvt) Ltd

LT Productions (PVT) Ltd

Riococo Lanka Pvt Ltd

I sapori di Dolce Italia (Pvt) Ltd

Swadeshi Industrial Works PLC

The firm: D. L. & F. de Saram is one of the oldest law firms in Sri Lanka, founded in 1898, and has been consistently ranked as a top-tier legal firm by IFLR 1000, The Legal 500, Chambers Global and Chambers Asia Pacific. The firm provides cross-border legal services to major international firms, inter alia, the UK, US, China, Europe and Australia. Its highly qualified, versatile and experienced legal team comprises specialists in infrastructure project development, compliance, banking and finance, real estate etc, and provides services to many Sri Lankan and multinational corporations.

Areas of practice
Banking and finance: cross-border financing for both domestic blue-chip companies and multinational corporations and financial institutions, acting as co-counsel with international law firms. The firm has widespread experience in asset and project finance and handling structured transactions in the fields of energy, infrastructure, transportation, communications, real estate and pharmaceuticals, and advises on exchange control laws and corporate financial transactions within the Sri Lankan legal framework.

Capital markets and securities: the team advises on issue of shares, debentures and warrants and other listed and unlisted instruments, derivative products and securitisations. The team assists Sri Lankan companies seeking to list shares and debt instruments in overseas exchanges, international bond issues and international banks in the preparation of memorandums and prospectuses.

Competition and antitrust: the firm advises clients on all aspects of competition law issues, on Sri Lankan anti-bribery and corruption laws, and has assisted as Sri Lankan counsel in FCPA investigations.

Restructuring and insolvency: the team advises clients on winding up laws, insolvency and deregistration filing requirements, restructuring of debt and formal insolvency proceedings. It also advises lenders and investors on corporate structuring.

Corporate and M&A: the firm has an experienced team of lawyers specialising in M&A, active in the fields of energy, infrastructure, construction and pharmaceuticals. The team handles private equity and public mergers and acquisitions, undertakes due diligence exercises and prepares share purchase and shareholders agreements, and specialises in advising clients on Sri Lankan foreign investment and amalgamation laws.

Labour, employment and immigration: the firm handles the full spectrum of labour regulations in Sri Lanka, advising domestic and multinational corporations on all aspects of labour laws, including the compatibility of international labour regulations with Sri Lankan law.

Infrastructure: the team advises clients on the regulatory framework for infrastructure development with special emphasis on ports and terminals, energy and utilities and highways. It advises lenders and developers on project finance and all types of PPP arrangements. The team advises on and prepares concession agreements, implementation agreements, joint venture agreements, purchase agreements and finance and direct lending agreements.

Intellectual property: the firm handles applications for the registration of trade marks, copyrights, industrial design, patents and related services, including litigation arising from infringements and trade mark enforcement.

Real estate: the team advises on foreign ownership restrictions, land acquisitions and sales, mortgage and lease agreements, together with due diligence examinations on real estate and the preparation, attestation and registration of transfers and other title documents.

Admiralty and shipping: the firm advises on shipping and protection and indemnity interests on cross-border disputes, with special emphasis on cargo claims, vessel mortgage enforcement and crew arrests, salvage and ground handling disputes. The firm facilitates and advises on many aspects of admiralty, shipping and international trade.

Corporate secretarial services: the firm’s secretarial division through its subsidiary, Corporate Advisory Services (Pvt.) Ltd., provides incorporation, secretarial and ancillary services to corporate clients, currently in excess of 500, in accordance with the provisions of the Sri Lanka Companies Act. CAS is a virtual one-stop shop for all services connected with the establishment and operation of a domestic or foreign company in Sri Lanka.

Department Name Email Telephone
Banking and finance Savantha De Saram
Banking and finance Prabash De Saram
Corporate and M&A Savantha De Saram
Corporate and M&A Jivan Goonetileke
Dispute resolution Savantha De Saram
Intellectual property Savantha De Saram
Projects and energy Savantha De Saram
Real estate and construction Savantha De Saram
Shipping Savantha De Saram
Private client, wills and probate Savantha De Saram
Tax Savantha De Saram
Number of lawyers : 38
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