Robin Darton has been practising as a lawyer in Hong Kong for 20 years. He has extensive experience in litigation and other contentious issues across a range of subjects, with an emphasis on contentious insolvency and restructuring matters.
His experience includes acting in winding-up proceedings; appointments of provisional liquidators; claims against directors; claims against auditors; fraud and asset tracing; and the court-related aspects of creditors’ schemes of arrangement.
Robin also has extensive experience acting in banking litigation matters, such as debt recovery; security enforcements; guarantees; and contentious matters relating to trade finance, such as disputes concerning Letters of Credit and Bills of Exchange.
Robin also advises in relation to general commercial litigation including employment and shareholders’ disputes, and claims relating to breach of confidence, and has longstanding experience in international trade disputes, such as disputes relating to international sales of goods and commodities as well as shipping, aviation and marine insurance claims, including marine cargo policy claims, ship mortgage enforcement in a number of jurisdictions, and shipping and aviation cargo/carriage claims.
The disputes upon which Robin has advised include disputes dealt with in court, litigation in various jurisdictions and also in arbitration in the UK, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shenzhen, including under CIETAC; HKIAC; and the ICC. Robin has conducted advocacy at the Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeal in Hong Kong as well as conducting the full ‘trials’ of arbitrations both in Hong Kong (under ICC Rules) and in Beijing and Shenzhen (under CIETAC).
Robin is consistently ranked as a ‘Leading Lawyer’ for restructuring and insolvency in Hong Kong by various industry publications, including Chambers Asia Pacific and Asia Pacific Legal 500 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013 editions.
experience and key cases
- Advising on the litigation and other court-related aspects of some of Asia’s highest profile insolvencies and restructurings over the past few years (for example Moulin, Lehman Brothers, MF Global, OW Bunker, Kaisa and a number of others) on both the creditor and debtor side or acting for office-holders or directors of the troubled companies including appointment of provisional liquidators and advising in relation to court-related aspects of schemes of arrangement; with a number of such matters involving cross-border insolvency issues.
- Acting for a well-known bank in relation to a suspected fraud perpetrated under a trade finance facility, including obtaining injunctions against the individual concerned to freeze his assets worldwide and orders appointing provisional liquidators over the companies concerned; and subsequently advising in relation to investigating the position and attempts to recover monies.
- Successfully acting in respect of a claim under a marine insurance policy that involved a novel issue of law.
Over the past few years, Robin has been involved in seminars and has written articles relating to Schemes of Arrangement and other topics related to insolvency and commercial litigation.
Robin was elected President of the Hong Kong chapter of Turnaround Management Association (TMA) in 2016, a position he held for two years. Recently Robin has also:
- chaired as President of the TMA (Turnaround Management Association)’s 2017 Asia Pacific Conference held in Hong Kong
- spoke on the panel Cross-border insolvency in practice at the Debtwire Forum in Hong Kong (June 2017)
- been featured in Debtwire’s Podcast on Hong Kong’s insolvency regime
- spoken at INSOL New York 2018
- had an article published as part of the International Association of Restructuring, Insolvency & Bankruptcy Professionals (INSOL) collection of essays on the implications of Brexit.
Chambers Asia Pacific 2019 notes: Robin Darton is a seasoned expert in Hong Kong insolvency disputes, acting for trustees in bankruptcy cases, disputes relating to shareholders’ agreements and applications for the appointment of receivers. A client describes him as “very competent, very practical and commercially oriented.”
Robin is listed as a Leading Lawyer for Banking & Finance, Dispute Resolution & Litigation and Restructuring & Insolvency in the 2018 Edition of Asialaw Leading Lawyers.
Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2018 notes: The ‘very experienced’ Robin Darton is advising the liquidators of the Hong Kong subsidiary of Singaporean conglomerate Dragon Technology Distribution on the validity of and interplay between various receivables financing arrangements and other security arrangements established between the debtor and numerous lenders. Darton also continues to act for the liquidators of the Hong Kong-based subsidiary of OW Bunker in its high-profile collapse.
Chambers Asia Pacific 2018 notes: With over two decades of experience in Hong Kong, Robin Darton is praised for his “skills in managing stakeholders,” as one client explains, adding: “He is an expert at it.” Renowned for his contentious work, he has recently advised numerous liquidators on several insolvency-related disputes.
Chambers Asia Pacific 2017 notes: Robin focuses his practice on contentious insolvency cases, where he acts for both creditors and debtors. He represented the liquidators of OW Bunker China in a dispute with the receivers in connection with the payment of USD150 million in receivables. Clients say: “He is sensible, commercial, astute and technically good too.”
Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2017 notes: “Robin Darton acted for the liquidators of OW Bunker in Hong Kong following the highly publicised collapse of the group….among other headline mandates, Darton represented Kaisa Group during the complex restructuring of its offshore debt amounting to over $2.5bn“.
Asialaw Leading Lawyers 2017 notes that: ‘”Robin Darton [is] very knowledgeable in the area of insolvency,” says a client. Darton advised PRC real estate developer Kaisa Group on the restructuring of its offshore debt of more than $2.5 billion. Darton is also advising the liquidators of the Hong Kong arm of marine fuel supplier OW Bunker China on issues regarding security, cross-border insolvency and maritime law.’
Robin is consistently ranked as a ‘Leading Lawyer’ for restructuring and insolvency in Hong Kong by various industry publications, including Chambers Asia Pacific and Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013 editions.
Chambers Asia Pacific 2016 notes: “Robin Darton continues to be recognised as an ‘excellent’ practitioner and is applauded as a ‘very talented man’ and a ‘well-known name for restructuring and insolvency work in Hong Kong.’ A highly capable litigator, he has extensive experience of assisting with contentious insolvency issues.”
Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2016 notes: “‘Insolvency specialist Robin Darton is ‘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: “’A quality practitioner and a safe pair of hands,’ Robin Darton is frequently highlighted by sources as a leading individual for insolvency matters. He is a highly experienced litigator, and also handles shareholders’ and international trade disputes.”
Robin is recommended by Asia Law & Practice as a ‘Leading Lawyer’ for Insolvency and Restructuring (2016, 2015 and 2014) and by IFLR1000 in its 2017 Edition.
Robin has been recognised by Who’s Who Legal as a leader in his field for Asset Recovery 2018, 2016, 2014, 2013 and Restructuring and Insolvency 2016.
Robin is listed in Legal Media Group Guide to the World’s Leading Insolvency and Restructuring Lawyers.
- Law Society of England and Wales
- Law Society of Hong Kong
- Immediate Past President of the Turnaround Management Association (TMA) of Hong Kong
- American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI)
- Restructuring and Insolvency Faculty (RIF)
- International Association of Restructuring, Insolvency & Bankruptcy Professionals (INSOL International)
- International Women’s Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC)
- Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong (FCC)
- Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC)