Solicitors governing body: Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL)
Competition authority: Consumer Affairs Authority
IFLR1000 ranking categories:
Financial and corporate (published October) – Banking, Capital markets, M&A, Project Development, Project finance
Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon until 1972, is a tropical island nation in the Indian Ocean lying off the southeast coast of peninsular India. It started to open up its economy in the 1970s but the country suffered more than two decades of unrest, corruption and a destructive civil war. After the end of the war in 2009, the country enjoyed a period of economic growth with government-led investment in infrastructure and development. But political uncertainty arose after this year’s election in August when government economic projects were halted in light of political reforms.
The winning party has pledged to unite under national rather than ethnic or regional lines and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has urged the country to move forward to a brighter future.
The country’s legal system is a mixture of Roman-Dutch civil law, English common law, and Jaffna Tamil customary law. The market is mainly dominated by local law firms.
US-based international law firm Duane Morris is one of the few global players present in Sri Lanka. It had formed an alliance with local firm Gowers International Legal Consultants & Corporate Lawyers through Duane Morris’s Singapore-based joint venture Duan Morris & Selvam.
Candy Chan - Journalist - Asia-Pacific
DL&F de Saram is one of the oldest law firms in Sri Lanka. The firm acts on notable transactions across banking and finance, capital markets, M&A, project development and restructuring and insolvency.
A representative deal saw the firm acting for JBIC in respect of a sovereign bond issuance by the Government of Sri Lanka to institutional investors in Japan.
In M&A, the firm advised LafargeHolcim on the sale of the company’s Sri Lankan subsidiary to Siam City for $375 million.
In the project space, the firm has has been advising China Communications Construction Company and China Harbour Engineering on the $1.3 billion establishment ofaspecialised industrial zone in partnership with the Government of Sri Lanka. The firm also advised a Chinese state owned enterprise on the building of a 400MW LNG power plant.
Key clients include China Development Bank, ADB, JBIC, Bank of East Asia, Coca Cola, Siemens India and General Electric.
FJ&G de Saram focuses specifically on the banking and finance sector, mortgage bonds in particular, where the firm acts for the banks.
Interesting deals last year saw the firm completing a number of mortgage bond transactions for foreign banks including Maybank Investment Bank, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Deutche Bank and United Overseas Bank; acting as Sri Lanka law counsel to the joint lead managers in connection with the sovereign bonds issued by the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
Key clients include Maybank Investment Bank, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank.
John Wilson Partners’ M&A and restructuring and insolvency practices are the firm’s strongest suits. The firm has also been approached by international law firms such as Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith Freehills, and White and Case to assist on local regulatory issues.
Last year it assisted Bupa in respect of the sale of health insurance via authorised brokers in Sri Lanka; advised Bonterra Weiland in regard to the restructuring of a joint venture and shareholders’ agreement; and was instructed by Allen & Overy to act as local counsel and provide general advice to a US-based bank.
Key clients include Kuehne & Nagel, Crosstown Power, Dell Corporation, and Randstad India.
Julius & Creasy is well known for its banking practice where it principally acts for the foreign banks who lend to the Sri Lanka government or to the private sector in the country.
Notably, the firm last year was the local counsel for Lanka Orix Leasing Company, the issuer, on the establishment of a multicurrency MTN programme of up to $220 million on the SGX. The firm also acted for Fairfax Asia in relation to Fairfax Group’s expansion and the restructuring of the company’s insurance business in Sri Lanka.
Key clients include Keppel Land International, Fairfirst Insurance and HSBC.
“Very supportive and they delivered within the timelines when providing service. From the commencement to the end J&C were "on top" of the assignment.” – M&A
“Professional, knowledgeable and highly reputable.” – M&A
“Very knowledgeable, respected industry professional.”
“Very supportive and very much engaged in the assignment.”