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Areas of Practice:

Litigation, Alternate Dispute Resolution, Projects and Project Financing Transactions Construction, Labour Law, Customs Law Intellectual Property Law, Privatizations and Regulatory and Compliance matters.

Mr. Chanaka de Silva, President’s Counsel, is considered the foremost legal expert in the field of project finance transactions and negotiations in Sri Lanka and his expertise further extends to the field of litigation and alternate dispute resolution.

Mr. de Silva commenced his legal career as a State Counsel in the Attorney-General’s Department of Sri Lanka where he served during the period of 1987 – 1996, prior to forming Nithya Partners in 1997. During his tenure at the Attorney- General’s Department, Mr. de Silva specialised in banking and commercial law issues, as well as litigation. He also advised the Government of Sri Lanka on various matters involving infrastructure development, project finance, restructuring and corporatisation transactions.

For over 30 years, Mr. de Silva has been involved in advising, negotiating and structuring major infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka, spanning a multitude of sectors such as electricity, telecommunication, petroleum, roadway, ports and mining. He was also the legal advisor in most major privatizations of state entities by the Government of Sri Lanka.

Mr. de Silva was a member of the group of consultants appointed to formulate proposals to enhance competition among port operators in Sri Lanka and has been a member of several committees for the drafting of legislation, including legislation relating to banking and debt recovery.

Mr. de Silva was the Senior Legal Consultant to the Secretariat for Infrastructure Development and Investment and its successor, the Bureau of Infrastructure Investment. The work in this position involved advising the Government and the relevant Governmental Agencies on large scale infrastructure projects, including the preparation of Requests for Proposals, selection of preferred Bidders and the negotiation of Project Agreements.

He has also served as a Legal Advisor to the Public Enterprise Reform Commission of Sri Lanka, relating to the public enterprise restructuring and privatization processes. He was a Member of the Three Member Committee appointed by the President of Sri Lanka to examine Land Lease Agreements relating to the estates of Estate Owning Companies and to propose the restructuring arrangements necessary for the privatization of the Estate Owning Companies. He was also a Member of the Committee appointed by the Minister of Highways to examine the Thoroughfares Ordinance and to propose a new draft National Highways Act.

Mr. de Silva also served on the Advisory Commission on Intellectual Property of Sri Lanka. The Intellectual Property Act No 36 of 2003, which is presently in force, was drafted during his tenure as a commission member. He represented Sri Lanka at several sessions of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva.

Mr. de Silva has functioned as a legal advisor in a majority of the large Independent Power Projects in Sri Lanka, the privatization of the Queen Elizabeth quay, the establishment of the South Asia Gateway Terminals and the structuring and implementation of the Hambantota Port Project. He was also a member of the team of consultants on the development of the Colombo Katunayake Expressway and the National Telecommunication Backbone Network for Sri Lanka.

He has also acted as a local legal expert on Public-Private Partnerships for several multilateral development banks.

In the field of litigation and alternate dispute resolution, Mr. de Silva appears in all levels of courts in Sri Lanka and has handled several high profile international and local arbitrations, representing both local and foreign corporations and multinationals.

Mr. de Silva leads the firm in handling specialized litigation and is well known for his expertise relating to complex disputes in corporate, commercial, banking, finance, infrastructure, projects, telecommunications, power and energy, insurance, construction and intellectual property matters.

Mr. de Silva has been consecutively ranked as a leading individual in the field of Project and Energy by the Legal 500 Asia Pacific for the years 2010 to 2016. He has also been ranked as a leading individual in Dispute Resolution and Banking by Chambers & Partners. In 2015, Mr. de Silva was awarded the Client Choice – Dispute Resolution Law Award in Sri Lanka by Legal’s Finest 200 Awards and was named as a winner of the Best in ADR- Sri Lanka by AI 2015 Legal Awards. He was endorsed as a Leading Lawyer by Asialaw Leading Lawyers Survey in the fields of Dispute Resolution, Banking and Project Finance.

In testament to his extensive experience and multidisciplinary expertise both in the private and public sector, in May 2019, Mr. Chanaka de Silva was appointed a President’s Counsel by His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka, under Article 33 (2) (e) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, an appointment made from persons, who have reached eminence in the legal profession and have maintained high standards of conduct and professional rectitude.

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