In its annual list of Asia’s Top Offshore Litigators, ALB highlights top disputes practitioners working with offshore law firms, who have successfully handled significant cases and exceeded client expectations in the process. The full list is in alphabetical order, and a few lawyers have been profiled here.
Jeremy Lightfoot, partner, Carey Olsen, Hong Kong
Lightfoot is the head of the litigation, insolvency and restructuring practice in Carey Olsen’s Hong Kong office. He is known for his work on high value, complex commercial and corporate litigation, insolvency and restructuring matters under the laws of Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the Cayman Islands.
Prior to joining Carey Olsen, Lightfoot was based in the British Virgin Islands with another offshore law firm before relocating in 2017 to lead their litigation, insolvency and restructuring practice in Hong Kong. Before moving to offshore law, he practised for a decade as a barrister in London.
Lightfoot graduated from New College, Oxford and was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 2006 (currently not practising). He was admitted as a barrister of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (British Virgin Islands) in 2016 and is enrolled as a registered associate in Bermuda.
He is a member of the Hong Kong ICPA Restructuring and Insolvency Faculty, the International Bar Association, INSOL, IWIRC, the Chancery Bar Association (Overseas Member) and the Inter-Pacific Bar Association.
James Noble, partner, Carey Olsen, Singapore
Noble is head of Carey Olsen’s litigation, insolvency and restructuring team in Asia. He is based in Singapore and advises on Bermuda, British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Cayman Islands law. Noble leads the largest offshore litigation team in Singapore.
He is a specialist in shareholder litigation, asset recovery, cross-border enforcement and insolvency. He has over 20 years of legal experience and focuses on various commercial, trust and estate disputes and private wealth matters. As a result of Noble's expertise and reputation in the market, he is frequently instructed to give expert evidence on Cayman or BVI law in foreign proceedings.
Noble represents clients on market-leading cases, particularly in connection with companies listed on the Hong Kong and New York Stock Exchanges. He was also recently successful in obtaining a significant judgment in favour of his client in the first-ever derivative action brought on behalf of a Liberian company in the BVI Courts.
Some of Noble's clients include Credit Europe Bank (Dubai), Ernst & Young, Global Cord Blood Corporation, Hillhouse Capital Management and Pacific Fiber.
Noble is the only litigation partner in Singapore to be admitted in both Cayman and the BVI and registered in Bermuda. He is an active member of INSOL and IWIRC and is a regular speaker at litigation, insolvency and arbitration conferences.
Norman Hau, partner, Conyers, Hong Kong
A partner at Conyers in Hong Kong, Hau joined the firm as an associate in 2012 from the dispute resolution team at Freshfields, and became Conyers’ first litigation lawyer based in Hong Kong. He was appointed counsel in 2016 and made partner two years later.
Hau is a commercial litigator with extensive experience in restructuring and insolvency matters and shareholders disputes in Hong Kong, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands. He has acted for listed companies, liquidators, private equity houses, fund managers, and high net worth individuals in their contentious matters involving offshore laws.
Hau also delivers seminars and training to clients and onshore lawyers to provide insights from the offshore perspective. He has spoken on topics such as “Recent offshore judgments you need to know” and “Liquidation/restructuring of local and offshore companies, cross-border recognition, strategic considerations and practical notes.”
He also a regular writer, and has most recently written a piece titled “Holding the Fort – Cayman Islands Litigation.”
Anna Lin, counsel, Conyers, Hong Kong
Lin is a counsel in the Hong Kong office of Conyers. She joined the firm in 2016 and was promoted to counsel in 2020. She specialises in commercial dispute and contentious insolvency and has advised clients on share appraisal proceedings, directors liability disputes, professional negligence claims, trust disputes and winding-up proceedings in various jurisdictions, including Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, and the British Virgin Islands.
With regards to general commercial litigation, Lin has advised on shareholder disputes, urgent injunction applications, third party disclosure, enforcement actions, claims on contractual breaches, asset-tracing and protection and other commercial and fund related contentious matters. On the non-contentious side, her experience includes solvent liquidations, grant of probate applications, directors fiduciary duty, company restructuring, family trust and management related advisory matters.
Last year, Lin delivered a lecture on “Knowing and protecting your rights – as minority or majority shareholder” at the 2020 In-House Community eCongress in Hong Kong.
Before pursuing her legal career, Lin graduated with First Class honours majoring in translation at the University of Hong Kong. She is a native speaker of Mandarin, and is highly valued for her combination of legal expertise and multi-language proficiency.
Oliver Payne, partner, Ogier, Hong Kong
Payne became a partner in 2016 at the age of 35 following his relocation from Ogier's Cayman Islands office to Hong Kong. He is the head of Ogier’s dispute resolution and restructuring and insolvency practice in Asia.
He has built a strong Cayman and BVI practice and has overseen the growth of the disputes and R&I team in Asia, which has increased from a team of three to a team of 15 over the last 5½ years.
Among the numerous matters on which he is advising, Payne is acting as the Cayman counsel for Tianrui (International) Holding Company in just and equitable winding up proceedings brought in respect of China Shanshui Cement Group. He is also acting as the Cayman counsel for FamilyMart China Holding, a minority shareholder of a joint venture company which operates more than 1400 convenience stores in the PRC under the FamilyMart brand. Furthermore, he advised Chance Talent Management as lead BVI partner in Hong Kong in its successful application to appoint liquidators over Novel Blaze in the BVI Commercial Court and the BVI Court of Appeal. Payne also counts Waterwood Group, Bitmain Technologies Holding Company, Adamas Global Alternative Investment Management, PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY among his client base.
Payne has counselled numerous dissenters on Cayman fair value cases and, over his more than 12 years practising offshore law, has appeared before the Financial Services Division of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands. He has also appeared in LCIA and ICC arbitrations in London and Hong Kong.
Joanne Collett, partner, Walkers, Hong Kong
Collett, who focuses on insolvency and dispute resolution, represents clients in relation to contentious and non-contentious matters including commercial disputes and fund-related matters, complex cross-border restructurings and privatisations, and enforcement of rights.
She is qualified in five jurisdictions, and has been practicing offshore for 11 years. She leads the restructuring practice for Walkers in Hong Kong, and has been helping to build the Walkers Hong Kong-Bermuda offering.
Collett has recently acted on various bank enforcement actions, including Victory City International Holdings for HSBC and a lender syndicate in relation to Luckin Coffee, two large funds disputes involving allegations of fraud, and a shareholders' dispute involving Nam Tai Property.
Additionally, Collett has expertise in representing offshore listed companies in financial distress. She recently acted for North Mining Shares Company, Samson Paper Holdings and KrisEnergy and others.
She has also assisted for both company and dissenter sides since 2015 in relation to appraisal cases of U.S.-listed Cayman Islands companies involving a determination of fair value. "Jo is unquestionably one of the best, and most experienced, offshore practitioners in Hong Kong and an extremely safe pair of hands. She combines her top-notch technical skills with a strong focus on commercial advice which really assists to drive matters forward" says a client.
Stuart D'Addona, partner, Walkers, Hong Kong
D’Addona is an expert in corporate and commercial litigation across the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Bermuda. He specialises in matters which include shareholder disputes, board disputes and advising investment funds and listed companies on contentious matters. He also regularly advises clients on transactional matters by assisting them on the identification of potential issues.
D’Addona has worked for clients in Greater China and across Asia and has been involved in many important cases over the years, including advising one of the world's largest institutional investors in the first-ever use of the Cayman Island Court's statutory jurisdiction to grant injunctive relief in support of foreign proceedings, in a case with a value in excess of $230 million, acting as BVI counsel in a shareholders' dispute concerning the management and control of a substantial Asian investment fund and representing the founders of Yingde Gases Group Company which was involved in a hostile takeover attempt.
“Stuart has deep experience and understanding of cross border litigation and contentious insolvency in Hong Kong and the BVI,” says a client. “He approaches problems strategically and offers creative solutions with the client's commercial end goals firmly in mind."
Callum McNeil, partner, Walkers, Hong Kong
McNeil is a highly experienced partner in Walkers’ insolvency, restructuring and dispute resolution group. He is a commercial litigator who has developed expertise in contentious funds and cross border insolvency matters. He is qualified in four jurisdictions and has spent the last 15 years working offshore in the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and the Channel Islands.
Prior to this, McNeil gained five years of home jurisdiction experience in Australia where he also handled a wide range of commercial litigation and insolvency work, regularly appearing before the Queensland Supreme Court and the Federal Court of Australia.
McNeil also specialises in cross border insolvency, investment fund disputes, corporate disputes, banking litigation, trust litigation, fraud litigation and asset tracing.. In addition, he has successfully brought urgent injunction applications before the courts of the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey and Australia.
Among some of the matters that McNeil has been involved in, he has successfully represented American financial services senior banker Chad C. Holm in his claim for breach of an oral contract regarding the Bank of Asia. He acted in a matter which is believed to be the first time that the BVI Court had recognised and given full force and effect to a PRC judgment, making it a landmark ruling. In addition, he represented the successful litigant in recovery of a high-value stake in a well-known PRC company, Lunan Pharmaceutical Group Corporation.
Robert Foote, partner, Walkers, Singapore
Foote heads the firm's Singapore Insolvency, Restructuring and Dispute Resolution department, and specialises in contentious corporate, finance, funds, commercial and trusts disputes and contentious and non-contentious insolvency and restructuring matters, including shareholder disputes, regulatory disputes, contentious trusts and probate disputes and applications for disclosure orders and urgent injunctive relief.
Foote has spent nearly six years in the BVI, where he acted on some of the largest disputes in the region – including the Fairfield Sentry litigation, where he represented 25 investment banks in claims arising out of the Madoff estate. Foote has advised KrisEnergy’s restructuring and liquidation of Phoenix Commodities; and was successful in persuading the Grand Court in the Cayman Islands, for the first time, to recognise and appoint a judicial manager in Singapore as a provisional liquidator for the purposes of a large debt restructuring of the China Sky Chemical Fibre, a Cayman Islands company listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange.
"Robert is an excellent lawyer, and a go-to for offshore disputes. He is highly hands-on, responsive and adept at distilling key issues in complex situations. His ability to formulate strategic and practical advice with high efficiency, is a true gem," says a client.
To contact the editorial team, please email ALBEditor@thomsonreuters.com.