Robin has been practising as a lawyer in Hong Kong since 1995, and has been a partner and head of our Restructuring and Insolvency team since 2005. Robin is recognised as one of the ‘most prominent’ insolvency and restructuring lawyers in Hong Kong and as having ‘great all-round experience’ by Chambers Asia Pacific. He is also recognised in Legal 500 Asia Pacific’s Hall of Fame for Restructuring and Insolvency in Hong Kong.
Robin has advised on some of Asia’s highest profile insolvencies and restructurings over the past two decades (for example Moulin Eyewear, Akai, Lehman Brothers, MF Global, OW Bunker, Kaisa, projects for China Cinda). Robin advises insolvency practitioners, private equity and distressed funds, asset managers and debtors on a range of issues with an emphasis on restructuring and insolvency matters. His experience includes acting in domestic and cross-border winding-up proceedings; bond restructurings; schemes of arrangement; bankruptcy matters; appointments of provisional liquidators; cross-border recognition proceedings; claims against directors and auditors; fraud and asset tracing; enforcement of security; and debt recovery. Robin advises across a range of sectors including retail, natural resources, construction, real estate and financial services.
Robin also advises in relation to general commercial litigation including shareholders’ disputes and disputes relating to international sales of goods and commodities. Robin has also throughout his career advised on shipping, aviation and marine insurance related disputes.
Robin has extensive experience acting in banking litigation matters with a focus on financial transactions disputes. This includes debt recovery; enforcement of securities; guarantees; and contentious matters relating to trade and securities finance, such as disputes concerning Letters of Credit and Bills of Exchange.
A significant proportion of Robin’s matters involve offshore considerations where he makes regular use of his strong and well established relationships with offshore qualified lawyers, particularly those from Cayman, BVI, Channel Islands and Bermuda. Many of Robin’s matters also involve cross-border elements in Mainland China where he works closely with Mandarin speaking members of the team.
Robin is consistently recognised as a ‘Leading Lawyer’ for restructuring and insolvency in Hong Kong by various industry publications including the Asia Pacific rankings of Chambers and Legal 500, IFLR, Lawdragon, Who’s Who Legal and the Global Restructuring Review. Robin lives with his family in Clearwater Bay, has a keen interest in all sports, in particular football, and enjoys exploring the country parks near his home.
- Advising the liquidators of Lehman Brothers Europe and the Hong Kong MF Global entities.
- Advised on Kaisa Group’s debt restructuring (Asian-mena Counsel Deal of the Year 2016).
- Advising a major PRC-headquartered and State-backed asset manager in connection with its involvement in the financial restructuring of a substantial real estate project concerning a hotel property in the heart of Hong Kong (IFLR Innovative Law Firm of the Year 2020).
- Advising China Shanshui Cement Group, a listed client in the construction materials industry in a long-running and high value cross-border contentious matter, arising from a hotly contested take-over between three groups all listed on the Hong Kong and other stock exchanges, and a PRC State-Owned Enterprise.
- Acting for KPMG as the liquidators of China City Construction International Co. Limited, which collapsed following default of the bonds issued by it in the sum of RMB2.5bn (approx. USD385m), and various litigation matters regarding the group’s broad and complex range of commercial deals.
- Acting for the Provisional Liquidators appointed in the Cayman Islands over Natural Dairy (NZ) Holdings Ltd, a Hong Kong-listed company that appears to have been the victim of a large-scale fraud in relation to a transaction to purchase a number of dairy farms in New Zealand worth hundreds of millions of USD.
- Advising the Provisional Liquidators of Hong Kong-listed international steel trading group Burwill in its efforts to rescue its business, including preparing Burwill’s scheme of arrangement and various restructuring documentation, including cross border debt restructuring.
- 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.
Robin speaks on and writes articles relating to various topics related to insolvency and commercial litigation, and has assisted INSOL in respect of its Foundation Certificate course, preparing the module relating to Hong Kong.
Robin was elected President of the Hong Kong chapter of Turnaround Management Association (TMA) in 2016, a position he held for two years.
Robin’s recent speaking and writing experience includes:
- INSOL Foundation Certificate, Hong Kong module (2019 to present)
- Offshore Alert (2020), speaking on the panel Offshore/onshore case study on insolvency and global asset recovery (vGLOBAL 2020 conference)
- INSOL New York (2018), speaking on the panel Offshore restructuring — what’s happening and what’s interesting
- Chairing the TMA (Turnaround Management Association)’s 2017 Asia Pacific Conference held in Hong Kong
- Speaking on the panel Cross-border insolvency in practice at the Debtwire Forum in Hong Kong (June 2017)
- Recording a Debtwire Podcast on Hong Kong’s insolvency regime
- INSOL’s collection of essays on the implications of Brexit on restructuring regimes
- “Liquidators do not require Court Approval for Litigation Funding Agreements”
- “Another obiter judgment, what is the status of the “Lasmos” approach now?”
- “Obtaining Validation Orders to pay restructuring costs”
- “Arbitration clauses and insolvency proceedings revisited”
- “Liquidators in the Labour Tribunal”
- “The Companies (Winding Up and Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Ordinance”
- “Hong Kong Insolvency Law – in need of its own restructuring?”
- “Litigation funding for foreign insolvency practitioners — an update”
Chambers and Partners 2023 notes, “Robin has buckets of experience, and is technically strong.” Additionally, “He knows very well how things work in the Hong Kong market, and what you need, be it legal advice or strategy.”
Legal 500 2023 comments that the Restructuting and Insolvency practice is a, “Deep bench of talented and commercial lawyers led by Ian De Witt and Robin Darton. The firm offers seamless service with pragmatic and strategic advice.” Additionally, “Ian de Witt and Robin Darton provide a very desirable mix of prior international law firm experience and working in a local team that has operated successfully in Hong Kong for many years, combining local knowledge with cross-border expertise.”
Who’s Who Legal 2022 notes, “Robin Darton adeptly advises leading businesses from the energy, retail and construction sectors on intricate asset tracing matters. Robin Darton sits amongst the foremost practitioners in the market, with peers praising him as a leading independent in the restructuring and insurance field.”
Who’s Who Legal recognises Robin as a Thought Leader in Asset Recovery (GIR) 2022 and states: ‘Robin Darton is identified by commentors as a top-tier restructuring and insolvency specialist, who also brings over 20 years of experience in fraud and asset tracing issues to his clients’ briefs.’
Chambers Asia Pacific 2021 notes: Robin Darton is a highly regarded authority on international insolvency and liquidation matters. One market source describes him as “a good guy who is well respected,” while a second commentator calls him “a really highly regarded insolvency practitioner.” On the Dispute Resolution: Litigation area, Robin is also “praised by a client, who asserts that he is “really good and really knows his work,” while another source notes that he is an “experienced practitioner who has been around a long time and is very solid.” He is well regarded for handling disputes stemming from restructuring and insolvency, as well as shareholder disputes.”
Asia Pacific Legal 500 2021 notes: Robin is one of the ‘top practitioners in insolvency and restructuring’, ‘user-friendly and costs conscious’ and ‘easy to work with and very strategic.’
Legal 500 Asia Pacific 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’. It notes that they form ‘One of the top insolvency teams in the market’…highly in demand as a result of its ‘specialised experience combined with practical advice’.
Chambers Asia Pacific 2020 notes: Robin Darton has a strong reputation for his deft handling of contentious restructuring and insolvency cases. He also acts on shareholder and investment disputes and securities enforcement proceedings. Clients praise his practical knowledge, commenting: “He’s a very astute practitioner who knows the courts and the Hong Kong Bar well.”
Robin Darton is listed on The Lawdragon 500 Leading Global Bankruptcy & Restructuring Lawyers 2020.
Who’s Who Legal recognises Robin as a Thought Leader in GIR 2019 & Restructuring & Insolvency 2020 and as a Global Leader in Asset Recovery & Restructuring & Insolvency 2021.
Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2019 notes: Robin Darton has a strong reputation on both the creditor and the debtor side for his ability to represent the office-holders or directors of troubled companies. Much of Darton’s work includes multi-jurisdictional matters, with a significant proportion flowing from offshore issues.
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 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.
- American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI)
- Banking Litigation Network
- Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants Restructuring and Insolvency Faculty (RIF)
- International Association of Restructuring, Insolvency & Bankruptcy Professionals (INSOL International)
- International Insolvency Institute
- International Women’s Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC)
- Turnaround Management Association (TMA) of Hong Kong (past President)
- The Law Society of England and Wales
- Law Society of Hong Kong
- The Company and Insolvency Law Society (COINS)
- ThoughtLeaders 4 Fraud, Insolvency, Recovery, Enforcement (FIRE)
- Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong (FCC)
- The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC)