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

D. L. & F. De Saram
Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka > Banking and finance Tier 1

D. L. & F. De Saram has a particular focus on domestic and cross-border banking and project finance transactions, routinely acting as local counsel on complex multi-jurisdictional matters alongside international law firms. Under the leadership of Savantha De Saram; Prabash De Saram and Aloka Nandasena , the team has substantial experience in asset and project financing and routinely handles structured finance transactions in a broad range of sectors such as energy, infrastructure and pharmaceuticals. In addition the nimble team is adept at advising on exchange control laws as well as trade financing transactions. Aruni Marcelline also plays a pivotal role on major deals. Hansi Abayaratne was recently promoted to the partnership.  Clients are predominantly blue-chip companies, multinational corporations and financial institutions.

Key clients

Pan Asia Banking Corporation


Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, Sri Lanka

Citibank, N.A., Singapore Branch

Standard Chartered Bank – Sri Lanka

Capital Alliance Group

Work highlights

  • Advised the banking syndicate on the acquisition financing of $360m that was provided to PGP Glass Private Limited, India acquiring the business undertaking of an Indian entity, having a listed subsidiary in Sri Lanka (namely, Piramal Glass Ceylon PLC)
  • Advised Pan Asia Banking Corporation (PABC) and Symbiotics SA on the $7.75m Green Bond.
  • Advised the lender in relation to the term loan facility aggregating to a sum of $10,750,000 to Pan Asia Banking Corporation PLC.

Sri Lanka > Corporate and M&A Tier 1

D. L. & F. De Saram fields a first-class team that advises on an array of domestic and cross-border corporate and commercial law matters. The department continues to act as local counsel on several cross-border matters alongside major international law firms. Recent work highlights include advising on several multi-jurisdictional restructuring transactions, as well as numerous domestic capital markets instructions. The department, which is headed by Savantha De Saram and Aloka Nandasena, also garners praise for its work on compliance and regulatory matters. Hansi Abayaratne was recently promoted to the partnership.

Other key lawyers:


‘I believe the client-centric approach, flexibility and reachability have to be commended bearing in mind the whole transaction took place during a pandemic and the majority of the matters were communicated using virtual and digital means. Special mention on being very reasonable with their billing considering the quality of service and the time they spent on our behalf which is highly commendable about D.L.&F‘.

The lead partner was Aloka Nandasena and associate Inshira Hanifa. I already have and will definitely recommend Aloka without any doubt in the future for anybody who needs M&A legal advice‘.

They have one of the best legal teams. They understand the requirements of the client very well. The team has a positive mind set. Excellent in making their deliverables on time. Our work is mostly handled by Aloka Nandasena and Hansi Abayartne. Two excellent individuals. Their knowledge on renewable energy is phenomenal. They both are hardworking and make their deliverables well in advance. Also very pleasant to work with‘.

Key clients

WindForce PLC

SBI VEN Holdings Pte Ltd

JF & I Packaging (Private) Limited

Akbar Brothers (Private) Limited

SS Equity Holdings (Private) Limited

Inchcape Shipping Services

Sysco Corporation, USA

DirectFN KSA and Saudi National Technology Group

Asia Capital PLC

Frontier Capital Partners Limited


MTD Capital Bhd

Work highlights

  • Advised  WindForce PLC on its IPO by way of an Offer for Subscription amounting to LKR 3.2bn and obtaining a listing on the Main Board of the Colombo Stock Exchange.
  • Advised SBI VEN Holdings Pte Ltd on its investment in Watawala Dairy Limited, a subsidiary of Watawala Plantations PLC (a listed plantation company) for a consideration of $2m.
  • Advised on the sale of JF & I Packaging (Private) Limited, a printing and packaging company, to Technomedics International (Private) Limited and a consortium of buyers for a consideration of LKR 4.3bn.

Sri Lanka > Dispute resolution Tier 1

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.

Sri Lanka > Labour and employment Tier 1

D. L. & F. De Saram advises domestic and international clients on the full spectrum of labour and employment matters. It is adept at handling all regulatory and compliance matters, as well as conducting employment due diligence on transactions as well as internal investigations. In addition the team is well-placed to advise on corporate restructurings and reorganisations as well as advising on complaints and inquiries at the Labour District Offices and the Employees’ Trust Fund Board. Contentious work and employee benefits issues are other areas of expertise. With Jivan Goonetileke and Manjula Sirimane at the helm, the group works closely with a number of international law firms.


The team is very professional. They are capable of handling all the relevant legal matters. They professionally deal with all our local and overseas managers. They use technology during this pandemic so are always approachable‘.

‘I highly recommend Jivan Goonetilleke. I really appreciate his professional advice for all our legal matters. He is always approachable, flexible also has a good relationship with all our overseas relevant people managers too. We trust and recommend his service 100%‘.

‘Quick response times offering practical solutions‘.

Key clients

Schneider Electric


Associated British Food Group (A B Mauri Lanka (Private) Limited)

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 LafargHolcim Group]

Nestle Lanka PLC

ZTE Corporation


Tesco Sourcing


London Stock Exchange Group


Wiley 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

Dell NoCavinKare


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)

Work highlights

  • Representing an Indian national in relation to several legal and administrative applications relating to the unjust termination and unsettled superannuation benefits against  the employer before several forums including the High Court of Colombo, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.
  • Representing Siam City Cement (Lanka) Limited against a claim made by a former CEO (a foreign national) for unpaid superannuation contributions and a further claim based on unjust/constructive termination. This matter is of substantial legal significance as it raises an important question of law on the eligibility of local superannuation schemes for foreign nationals already enjoying pension benefits through foreign based funds.
  • Providing strategic advice and direction to ICICI Bank in effecting the severance of employees attached to the client’s Sri Lankan branch as part of its closure of operations in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka > Projects and energy Tier 1

D. L. & F. De Saram's corporate practice has considerable expertise in energy and infrastructure projects. It is particularly adept at advising on issues such as concession agreements, finance agreements and other areas such as regulatory and licensing requirements. The team under the leadership of Savantha De Saram and Aloka Nandasena has acted as local counsel alongside international law firms on some major projects. Its key clients are predominantly in the power sector (renewable and traditional energy, generation and distribution) as well as oil and gas, transport, utilities and the social infrastructure sector. Hansi Abayaratne was promoted to the partnership.

Other key lawyers:


Responsive, reliable and very helpful team providing excellent technically sound legal advice and practical solutions. Hansi Abeyratne, Partner, has been available around the clock to advise and assist us in our projects. She is very prompt in responding and very reliable‘.

The team consists of thorough professionals and their response time is exceptional which sets them apart from other firms. It was great working with Inshira Hanifa and Aloka on a recent project. They were available at all times on a short response time to answer our queries‘.

They have the best legal team in Sri Lanka. Easy to work with and on time deliverables. Our contact points are Aloka Nandasena and Hansi Abayartne. Two extremely talented individuals. Easy to work with. Also smart and hardworking‘.

Key clients

China Harbour Engineering Company Limited

China Machinery Engineering Corporation

CCECC – HPRB – HNRBI Joint Venture (Private) Limited

Adani Port and SEZ Limited

ABB India Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising Adani Ports and SEZ Limited on the PPP project to develop and operate the East Container Terminal situated within the Colombo South Harbour at the Port of Colombo. The scope of work involves inter alia reviewing and advising on project documents, advising on applicable laws including foreign exchange laws and regulations, on the Strategic Development Projects Act and licensing requirements etc.
  • Advising China Machinery Engineering Corporation on the expansion of a coal-fired power plant in Sri Lanka as a joint venture with the Ceylon Electricity Board. The scope of work involved a comprehensive review of general and special laws relating to the project including investment treaties, public procurement, foreign exchange laws and regulations, laws and policies relating to IPP projects, LNG importation and infrastructure and other sector specific laws and regulations, tax and project financing, reviewing the project structure and reviewing project documents.
  • Advised ABB India Ltd in relation to a contract executed with Ceylon Electricity Board for the supply, erection, testing and commission for the construction of new grid substations and augmentation of the existing 220/132/33kV grid substation under Clean Energy and Network Efficiency Improvement Project.

Sri Lanka > Real estate and construction Tier 1

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.

Sri Lanka > Shipping Tier 1

D. L. & F. De Saram has a thriving shipping and admiralty practice that specialises in rem actions and ship arrests as well as cargo claims, vessel mortgage enforcement actions in addition to salvage and ground handling disputes. The team works on a myriad of shipping and international trade matters relating to issues such as vessel collisions, charter parties, bills of lading as well as advising on all aspects of maritime litigation and arbitration. It also handles non-contentious matters such as ship sales. Jivan Goonetilleke has played a pivotal role in many of the firm’s most significant shipping and admiralty assignments. Savantha De Saram  is also vastly experienced in this area. Associate Nadine Puvimanasinghe is another key member of the team.

Other key lawyers:


‘The most knowledgeable team in Sri Lanka that knows about Shipping & Logistics‘.

‘Jivan Goonetilleke always gives us the most appropriate solution or suggestion when it comes to any legally concerned case‘.

Key clients

The London Club P&I Limited

West of England (Hellas) Limited

UBS Switzerland AG

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”)

CMA CGM NoVitol Asia Pte Ltd

Assuranceforeningen SKULD (Gjensidig)

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

Darby Maritime Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising and representing the London Club and its member, the Owner of the MV “X-Press Pearl”, the operators of the vessel and its crew. The said vessel caught fire in the Outer Port Limits off the Port of Colombo on or about 21st May 2021. The fire completely destroyed the vessel and its cargo and was reduced to a wreck. The vessel subsequently sank. Such events led to the worst marine environmental incident in Sri Lanka’s recorded marine history.
  • Advised West of England (Hellas) Limited through Holman Fenwick Willan on matters relating to the fire that erupted on board the MT “New Diamond” and subsequent legal implications and environmental hazards that resulted from the fire.
  • Acting as counsel and legal advisors to UBS Switzerland AG in a significant matter that  constitutes the first of such actions filed in Sri Lanka in relation to the insolvency of Gulf Petrochem Group. The vessel and crew were subsequently abandoned by the owner citing unavoidable financial constraints. UBS has now made arrangements to supply the vessel.

Sri Lanka > Tax Tier 1

D. L. & F. De Saram has a first-rate tax practice that advises on many aspects of tax including direct and indirect tax advisory and compliance work, such as advising on tax incentives and exemptions for investors. It also routinely advises on tax efficient transaction structuring and international tax matters as well as tax litigation. Savantha De Saram; Prabash De Saram and Aloka Nandasena head the department.; Hansi Abayaratne is a new promotion to the partnership and managing associate Inshira Hanifa  is another important member of the team.

Other key lawyers:


‘This team is corporative and understands the issues in hand. Very proactive. I feel that the individuals provide an excellent service and focus on the right outcomes’.

The team has well-rounded capabilities that allow a client take advantage of a one-stop shop for legal requirements. The teams are very responsive, and provide up to date information on any query raised‘.

We have worked closely with Aloka Nanadasena, Inshira Hanifa and Hansi Abeyratne. The three individuals have provided us with several legal clarifications and advice under tight deadlines in several occasions. Their inputs have greatly helped us respond to our client requests promptly and to complete projects in a timely manner‘.

‘D.L. & F. De Saram is one of the best and oldest-serving law firms in Sri Lanka. The firm comprises of some of the country’s leading attorneys across various specialisms with expertise, attention to detail and reliability that is second to none‘.

‘Savantha De Saram is a very practical and reliable attorney who is approachable, highly knowledgeable and has given our matters importance no matter how large or small the issue at hand is‘.

‘Aloka Nandasena thoroughly supported and guided me with exploring the transaction and having her as my attorney made the entire process smoother and less daunting. She became not just our attorney but a friend and remains my go-to person for our various legal matters in Sri Lanka‘.

Inshira Hanifa is thoroughly knowledgeable and driven individual who tackled our various  queries in a concise and vigorous manner. She has a bright, promising future ahead of her’.

Key clients

Commerzbank AG

Tesco International Sourcing Limited

CBRE South Asia S (Private) Limited

Thumbsplit Enterprises Inc.

Work highlights

  • Advised Commerzbank AG on jurisdiction specific withholding tax liability on interest payments made on sub-participated and risk participated loans and on total return swaps.
  • Advising Tesco International Sourcing Limited on the day to day tax compliance requirements applicable to the local entity and payments made to employees and service providers and changes to the income tax law in Sri Lanka.
  • Advising CBRE South Asia S (Private) Limited on their day-to-day income tax compliance requirements applicable to the local entity and payments made to employees in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka > Private client Tier 2

Sri Lanka > Intellectual property Tier 3

D. L. & F. De Saram continues to be busy advising on the registration of trade marks, patents, industrial designs and on other intellectual property matters. The department is well-versed too in conducting due diligence on IP elements of larger corporate transactions and in advising on licensing agreements. The team is skilled at advising on the registration of patents for both local and foreign clients as well as handling IP disputes. Prabash De Saram and Hasanthie Manukulasooriya co-head the department.

Other key lawyers:


‘Our dealings with D.L. & F. De Saram have been very rewarding. They have an excellent team of partners who are always available to help and assist clients. All financials are very transparent and any additional charges were always informed to us beforehand so we never had any surprises by way of hidden costs‘.

‘The team is equally efficient, cooperative and willing to go the extra mile to help speed up transactions as well as being flexible and accommodating. Working with them is always a pleasure because they understand our requirements and are willing to accommodate our time schedules as well‘.

Great industry knowledge. Very professional. Timely completion. Issues are resolved immediately‘.

‘D. L. & F. De Saram handled my trademark registration swiftly and was prompt in handling the paper work. Information was shared via email and I only visited the office once to place my signature on the forms. Furthermore they were very transparent and precise with answering my queries. I was updated right throughout till the trademark registration was executed’.

‘Dunya Peiris was the person who singlehandedly handled my company’s trademark registration. She was extremely efficient and meticulous in doing so‘.

Very friendly and catered to our requirements promptly‘.

‘The D L & F De Saram team is a group of absolute professionals who carry out the work with comprehensive dedication. The team that advised me was well versed with all the technical legal regulations and guided me astutely in my decision making‘.

‘The team I worked with was available to me 24/7. They would answer my calls immediately and where relevant would revert with the necessary information and guidance promptly. In particular, the services I received from Hasanthie Manukulasooriya was outstanding and very professional in execution‘.

Key clients

National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka

Economy Next Media (Private) Limited

Capital Media (Private) Limited

Kalbe International Pte. Ltd

S K International PVT LTD

Sena Mills Refineries Exports (Pvt) Ltd

Mascons Pvt Ltd

Printcare PLC

Perera and Sons Bakers ( Pvt) Ltd

Dial textline Industries (Pvt) Ltd

Work highlights

  • Assisting Perera and Sons Bakers (Pvt) Ltd in the protection of its trademarks under the Madrid System and advising and assisting the clients on the infringement of its trademarks in Australia.
  • Acted for Kalbe International (which is a pharmaceutical company) to conduct searches and register its trademarks in Sri Lanka.
  • Representing Printcare Plc in litigation involving the infringement of copyrights.

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.

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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