Employment Law

Tanner De Witt has acted in several of the leading reported cases in Hong Kong over the last 20 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.

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:

  • Employment contracts, secondments and handbooks
  • 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
  • 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

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.

Chambers and Partners 2023

“The employment team works closely with their civil litigation team and provides fast response on contentious matters.”
“They provide very clear and concise analyses.”
“I appreciate their ability to translate a complex matter into bite-sized issues for discussions and considerations.”
“They offer exceptional service and attention, with humour when needed!”

Legal 500 2023

‘The team looks at the big picture and very accurately addresses the way the Court will view the case. In one case, the team chose to attack ‘abuse of process’, which they did successfully. The Judge himself considered it a big leap, but he agreed.’

Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2020

Deeply entrenched in the local market, independent law firm Tanner De Witt’s two-partner team provides ‘excellent service‘ across the spectrum of employment matters impacting local employers and their mid-senior level executives. By dint of its independent status, the firm receives a significant amount of referral work as well as a regular flow of direct instructions, in particular from clients in the financial services industry. The team is best-known for its contentious expertise, and in this respect the ‘very responsiveRussell Bennett has ‘in-depth experience‘ and is appreciated by clients not only for his robust representation before the courts and tribunals but also his ‘willingness to explore options to settle out of court‘.

Chambers and Partners Asia 2020

Strong contentious employment team with notable expertise representing employees in high-profile litigation cases. Active on matters involving individuals employed in Hong Kong, including supporting foreign domestic workers on a pro bono basis. Also advises employers on the transfer of employees to and from the PRC, work policies, contracts and post-employment restrictions. Highly active on cases related to race, disability and sex discrimination, and white-collar crime investigations.

“In general, I see the firm as pragmatic when it comes to mediation.”

Russell Bennett is described by market sources as “very senior” and “very hard-working for clients.” He maintains a strong employment disputes practice, primarily advising on termination disputes and harassment claims, as well as pro bono employee defence work.