Ian De Witt
Ian De Witt was born in Wales and obtained an honours degree in law in London. After qualifying as a solicitor in England and Wales in 1989, he joined and became a partner in a prominent London law firm where he worked for many years before coming to Hong Kong in 1996.
Throughout his career, Ian has focused on commercial litigation and insolvency matters, including debt recovery, asset tracing and the enforcement of judgments, pre-emptive actions such as injunctions, court appointed receivers, and the appointment of provisional liquidators. He acts and advises in a variety of insolvency cases, acting for liquidators, receivers, creditors and directors.
Ian has also advised and acted for directors, employees and companies in respect of investigations, regulatory matters and prosecutions carried out by the Police, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (“ICAC”), the Commercial Crime Bureau (“CCB”), the Securities and Futures Commission (“SFC”) and the Confederation of Insurance Brokers (“CIB”) Disciplinary Committee.
Additionally, he has advised and acted in a wide range of commercial and contractual disputes, professional negligence claims, partnership and shareholder disputes.
Ian is also an accredited mediator of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre and he sits on the Insolvency Committee for the Law Society, technical and editorial committee of the Restructuring and Insolvency Faculty of Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Ian is consistently ranked as a ‘Leading Lawyer’ for Restructuring and Insolvency in Hong Kong by various industry publications, including Chambers and Partners Global 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and Asia Pacific Legal 500 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 editions.
- Acting in the opposition of a winding-up petition and in seeking an Order for the presentation to creditors of an opposed scheme of arrangement under the Companies Ordinance, in a billion dollar debt restructuring in Hong Kong, forming part of one of the largest ever debt restructurings in Asia.
- Acting for the Plaintiff in the benchmark case of Field v. Barber Asia, the leading Hong Kong case involving negligence against an independent financial advisor.
- Acting in a variety of regulatory and professional disciplinary matters, including SFC and CIB.
- Acting for the liquidators of many high profile administrations, notably Oasis Airlines.
- Acting as an expert on Hong Kong liquidation procedure in US proceedings (including deposition).
- Acted for two major international banks involved in an arbitration between a UK-based private equity firm and a well-known hospitality group in China.
Over the last few years, Ian has given many talks and presentations, in Hong Kong and Asia, on the topics of insolvency and commercial litigation, including:
- The latest developments and updates in Hong Kong insolvency law
- Corporate Rescue
- Litigation Tactics
- Bankruptcy & Individual Voluntary Arrangements
- Winding Up Procedures
- IVA Practical Application in Hong Kong
- Provisional Liquidation: The Procedure, The Practice, And Its
- Link With Corporate Rescue In Hong Kong Winding Up Procedures
- Debt Recovery: How To Do It And Make It Pay
- Current Insolvency Issues in Hong Kong
- The Strategic Use of Litigation Procedures
- Dispute Resolution in China: to litigate or arbitrate?
- Judging Panel for the Young International Mediation Competition
- The Intersection of Trans-Pacific Trade and International Insolvency Regimes
Ian has written several articles covering aspects of insolvency, commercial litigation and tenancy law. He is also Contributing Editor for Sweet and Maxwell’s Company Law in Hong Kong: Insolvency, released in December 2005.
Asia Pacific Legal 500 2020 notes: ‘Two of the most prominent insolvency/restructuring lawyers in Hong Kong’, co-heads Ian De Witt and Robin Darton have ‘great all-round experience’, while recently promoted partner Sunny Hathiramani has a flourishing reputation at a more junior level across a range of insolvency and restructuring issues, in relation to both companies and individuals.
Chambers Asia Pacific 2020 notes: Ian De Witt is described as “one of the bible writers for insolvency law” by one source who adds: “He’s a walking dictionary on legal matters relating to insolvency.” He often advises on contentious matters and counts distressed companies, liquidators and bond trustees among his clients. A market commentator notes: “He’s a safe pair of hands, he’s someone who really thinks of the problems that the cases give rise to and he’s got an almost encyclopaedic understanding of insolvency law.”
Asia Pacific Legal 500 2019 notes: The ‘excellent‘ Ian De Witt has been advising ENRE Holdings as a major creditor on the restructuring of Petrocom; notably De Witt recently successfully stayed the winding-up order against Petrocom, enabling the company to recommence its trading operations.
Chambers Asia Pacific 2019 notes: Ian De Witt is a veteran at handling a range of insolvency matters, from debt recovery to pre-emptive actions and the appointment of provisional liquidators. One client enthuses:“Ian’s approach is very personal and reassuring. He has a very casual manner about him which really helps, as these situations are very stressful, taking away a lot of the pain of the process in what was not a very savoury situation.”
Ian has been recognised by Who’s Who Legal 2018 as a leader in his field for Asset Recovery and Restructuring & Insolvency and comes “highly recommended” for “his excellence in asset recovery and tracing matters”.
Ian is listed as a Market-leading Lawyer for Dispute Resolution & Litigation and Restructuring & Insolvency by the 2018 Edition of Asialaw Leading Lawyers.
Asia Pacific Legal 500 2018 notes: An ‘established player in the Hong Kong market’, Tanner De Witt is particularly recommended at the contentious end of the market; the ‘excellent’ Ian De Witt is recommended.
Chambers Asia Pacific 2018 notes: Ian De Witt has close to 30 years of experience in the insolvency practice area in London and Hong Kong. One client says: “Ian De Witt, in my opinion, is the best insolvency lawyer in Hong Kong.”
Chambers Asia Pacific 2017 notes: Ian has 30 years of experience acting for creditors, receivers and liquidators on major, complex insolvencies and restructurings. One client remarks: “He gets into the nitty-gritty, but also sees the big picture.” He advised Asian Bamboo on the replacement of directors of its subsidiaries with a preliminary insolvency administrator.
Asia Pacific Legal 500 2017 notes: ‘An expert in the field of insolvency-related matters’, Tanner De Witt has a well-established practice and enjoys strong relationships with key insolvency practitioners. ‘All-round expert’ Ian De Witt is noted for his ‘practical advice’; he recently assisted a well-known Hong Kong-based company with the winding up of several entities.
Ian is listed in the Legal Media Group Guide to the World’s Leading Insolvency and Restructuring Lawyers.
Ian is consistently ranked as a ‘Leading Lawyer’ for restructuring and insolvency in Hong Kong by various industry publications including Chambers Asia and Asia Pacific Legal 500. Ian is a Leading Lawyer for Restructuring and Insolvency in the 2018 Edition of Asialaw Leading Lawyers and the 2018 Edition of IFLR1000.
Chambers Asia Pacific 2016 notes: “Ian De Witt… ‘very quickly gets the issues, speaks with authority and gives advice with confidence.’ He is held in high esteem by peers who frequently mention him as a leading expert on insolvency matters.”
Asia Pacific Legal 500 2016 notes: “The lawyers ‘go out of their way to maintain ongoing close relationships with clients’ and are ‘extremely good at what they do’. Ian De Witt and Robin Darton are both ‘very competent, practical and commercial’”.
IFLR1000 2016 notes: ‘As an insolvency practitioner, I primarily use Tanner De Witt for advice in the area of insolvency and related litigation,’ one client says. ‘It has a number of partners, namely Ian De Witt, Robin Darton and Anthony Hill, who are very capable and experienced in this area. I would have no hesitation in recommending their services’.
Chambers Asia Pacific 2015 notes: “Ian De Witt is acknowledged by peers as a very prominent and capable practitioner. One client enthuses: “I can call him for anything. He’s great – very user-friendly.” De Witt has nearly two decades’ experience in acting on contentious insolvency matters.”
- American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI)
- Classic Car Club of Hong Kong
- Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA)
- Fellow of the Hong Kong Credit and Collection Management Association (HKCCMA)
- Gold Coast Yacht and Country Club
- Hong Kong Club
- Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA) Restructuring and Insolvency Faculty Technical Sub-Committee
- Hong Kong member of: St David’s Society; The Royal Society of St George; St Patrick’s Society; and St Andrew’s Society
- Insolvency Law Committee of The Law Society of Hong Kong
- Insolvency Lawyers’ Association (ILA)
- Institute of Financial Planners of Hong Kong
- International Association of Restructuring, Insolvency & Bankruptcy Professionals (INSOL International)
- International Bar Association (IBA)
- International Insolvency Institute (III)
- International Women’s Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC)
- Land Rovers Owner Club
- Law Society Insolvency Committee
- Mediator accredited by the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre
- MG Owners’ Club
- Turnaround Management Association (TMA)
- Working Party on Taxation in Civil Proceedings of The Law Society of Hong Kong