Employment Law Hong Kong

Introduction

Tanner De Witt has acted in several of the leading reported cases in Hong Kong over the last 12 years and are regular speakers to employers, business groups and human resource professionals.

We act for many major employers as well as senior executives and high profile employees in a wide range of industry sectors including banking and finance, insurance, publishing, manufacturing and professional services.

Through our experience and knowledge we aim to provide quality, cost-effective and commercial legal advice. Further, through our experience we are also able to offer tactical and common sense guidance on best practice to ensure the best overall result for the client, including issues such as performance management, rewards and restriction structures, exit strategies and mediation.

Our Experience

Tanner De Witt has considerable experience advising on Hong Kong employment law and related issues. The types of matters on which we regularly advise include:

  • Terminations and entitlements
  • Redundancy, retrenchment and separation, including separation agreements
  • Claims for constructive dismissal, unreasonable, wrongful or unlawful dismissal (including during pregnancy and in other prohibited circumstances)
  • Remuneration and benefits, including incentive schemes and bonus arrangements
  • Employment contracts, secondments and handbooks
  • Restrictive covenants, enforcement and enforceability
  • Injunctive relief (including springboard, anton piller and anti-suit injunctions)
  • Labour Tribunal claims
  • District and High Court actions involving employment and shareholder issues
  • Confidentiality
  • Personal data privacy
  • Discrimination and harassment issues

Our Work

Examples of our experience include:

  • Successfully defending a senior executive in injunction proceedings and obtaining dismissal of application for enforcement of a 12 month non-compete covenant.
  • Successfully defending four senior executives in a claim brought by their former employer, alleging breaches of contract and fiduciary duty and seeking enforcement of restrictive covenants: Cantor Fitzgerald Europe & Ors v Boyer & (Unreported, HCA1160/2011, 29 February 2012).
  • Successfully defending two inter-dealer brokers against claims brought by their former employer, alleging bonus payments should have been included in calculation of payment in lieu: ICAP (Hong Kong) Limited v Elaine Chan & Kwok Chi Leung (HCA 636 and 637/2007) [2010] HKEC 2012.
  • Advising a Hong Kong listed entity and subsidiary regarding claims and remedies to be sought from employee relating to suspected breaches of fiduciary duty and diversion of business opportunities and assisting Clients to obtain a commercial resolution of matter.
  • Acting for a senior insurance broker and insurance brokerage firm in defending a claim brought by his former employer involving claims for various forms of injunctive relief.
    Acting for a SME against a group of former Hong Kong employees who left en masse to join a competitor, in which a “springboard” injunction was obtained for the company: Slik Hong Kong Company Limited v Gerald Merlyn Rhoslyn Evans & Others (HCA 1424/2005) [2005] HKEC 1730.
  • Advising inter-dealer broking firms on employment issues arising in relation to hire of prospective employees for new business in Hong Kong, including drafting of employment contracts, termination letters and disputing and resolving alleged claims raised by former employers.
  • Advising on and negotiating employment contracts and separation agreements for directors, CEOs, CFOs, and other senior executives of various leading financial institutions, hedge funds, insurance companies and listed entities.
  • Regularly advising employers and individual employees on Hong Kong employment issues including enforceability of restrictive covenants and availability of injunctive relief, breaches of confidentiality and fiduciary duty, severance agreements, termination entitlements, and compliance with and remedies available under the Employment, Personal Data (Privacy) and Anti-Discrimination Ordinances.

Testimonials

Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2017

The Employment team handles complex and sensitive employment matters for a client base that is divided evenly between companies and employees. The team saw an uptick in discrimination-related claims in 2015 and 2016; in one recent case, Russell Bennett advised a listed company on pregnancy rights and discrimination in the context of termination of employment. Recent instructions on the employee side include Kim Boreham’s advice to a former CEO regarding a high-value separation package.

Chambers and Partners Asia 2017

Strong contentious employment team with notable expertise representing employees in high-profile litigation cases. Active on matters involving individuals employed in both the PRC and Hong Kong, and the transfer of employees between these two jurisdictions. Also works with employers, advising on work policies, contracts and post-employment restrictions. Highly active on cases related to race, disability and sex discrimination, as well as advising on internal investigations.

“They are very strong on litigation.”

Kim Boreham is highly respected as a litigator. She acts for employees and employers on termination disputes as well as non-contentious matters, including handbook drafting and structuring exit packages. One client says she is “very strong. She has a good understanding of corporate issues, and is innovative with a very sharp intellect.”

Russell Bennett is best known for advising employees and employers in the financial sector on major employment disputes. He is described by one peer as “very commercial and sensible. If he’s on your side, you know things can be resolved.”