Dr. Asanga Gunawansa was called to the Bar as an Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in 1993 and has over 30 years of experience as a Legal Counsel and was appointed as a President’s Counsel in January 2024. Dr. Gunawansa holds a Ph.D. in Law from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and an LL.M in International Economic Law from the University of Warwick, England. He is also a BIARI fellow (Brown International Advance Research Institute, Brown University).
Whilst practicing in all areas of general commercial litigation, Dr. Gunawansa is an expert in contracts, construction law, foreign investments and the legal aspects of project financing, public-private partnerships, arbitration and environmental law. His services are regularly sought by local as well as international clients including multinational institutions.
In addition to being engaged in private legal practice, Dr. Gunawansa is currently a Legal Consultant to the Asian Development Bank on public-private partnerships and he is also a Legal Consultant to the Independent Redress Mechanism of the Green Climate Fund in Songdo, South Korea.
He is also an Honorary Legal Consultant to the Ministry of Justice of Sri Lanka and was instrumental in establishing the Colombo International Arbitration Centre, of which he is the current Chairman. He is also a member of the Panel of Experts on the law relating to arbitration in Sri Lanka appointed by the Justice Sector Reforms Program of the Ministry of Justice in Sri Lanka. He is a Fellow of the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators. Dr. Gunawansa is also an Arbitrator with the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIA, Malaysia), Thailand Arbitration Centre (THAC), Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration (SCIA), the SAARC Arbitration Council (SAARCO), and the South China International Arbitration Center (HK) (SCIAHK). He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Gujarat International Maritime Arbitration Centre.
He is also an Associate Member of the Executive Committee of the Asia Pacific Centre of Environmental Law, NUS, and an International Research Associate of the Institute of Water Policy of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, NUS. He is also an Adjunct Professor of the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka.
Prior to returning to Sri Lanka in 2012 to establish Colombo Law Alliance, Dr. Gunawansa served the United Nations Organization as a Legal Officer, completing a five-year mission in Geneva, Switzerland for the United Nations Compensation Commission, and a two-year mission in Jerusalem, West Bank and Amman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. During the period between 2007 and 2012, Dr. Gunawansa taught Construction Law, Water Law and the legal aspects of Sustainable Development at NUS. During the period between 1993 and 2000, Dr. Gunawansa worked as a State Counsel attached to the Attorney General’s Department of Sri Lanka.
Outside his legal practice and academic activities, Dr. Gunawansa is a non-resident Associate of the Asia Society and a member of the Editorial Review Board of the International Journal of Law in the Built Environment and the Journal of Built Environment Project and Asset Management. Dr. Gunawansa has authored several books including the ‘Asia Pacific Construction Law Case Book Series’ published by LexisNexis and ‘Water Governance: Evaluation of Alternative Architectures’ published by Edward Elgar Publishing House. He has also authored over 25 Articles published in international journals on construction law, environmental law and arbitration.
Mr. Dilshan Jayasuriya was called to the Bar as an Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in 1999, having completed his legal apprenticeship at the Attorney-General’s Department of Sri Lanka. He has over 25 years’ experience as a Legal Counsel. He holds an LL.M in International Dispute Resolution, a PGDip in International Commercial and Corporate Law and a PGCert in Law from the University of London.
Mr. Jayasuriya successfully completed his initial legal education at the Sri Lanka Law College, having achieved first class honours for his preliminary and final year examinations. He was elected as the President of the prestigious Law Student’s Union of Sri Lanka in the year 1997. Upon being called to the Bar, Mr. Jayasuriya started his legal practice in the Private Bar as a Legal Counsel attached to the chambers of Senior Attorney, the late Mr. S. L. Gunasekara.
In the year 2012, Mr. Jayasuriya was instrumental in setting up the Colombo Law Alliance (CLA) together with Dr. Asanga Gunawansa. Currently, he is engaged in civil, commercial, and public law practice focusing on contract negotiations, money recovery actions, banking law, insurance law, corporate and company law, sports law, injunctions, family law, testamentary law, labour and industrial law, and local as well as international arbitrations. He is often retained as a Legal Counsel by many leading law firms.
His present clientele includes many local blue-chip companies and multinational companies. Some of the key projects Mr. Jayasuriya has been involved in in recent times as part of the CLA team include the development of the Colombo Port City Project (the single largest Foreign Direct Investment project in Sri Lanka to date), the Southern Expressway Development Project and the Hambanthota Port Development Project.
In addition to his private legal practice, during the period between 2002 and 2004, Mr. Jayasuriya functioned as a Legal Consultant to the Land Reform Commission of Sri Lanka. Thereafter, in 2005, he was also appointed as a Member (Judge) of the Ceiling on Housing and Property Board of Review by the Minister of Housing. In the year 2010, Mr. Jayasuriya was appointed as Honorary Legal Consultant to the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka, in which capacity he has been instrumental in proposing sweeping changes to the sports laws prevailing in Sri Lanka under the guidance of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). He has represented Sri Lanka at several briefing sessions at the IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland. He has also attended several workshops on International Sports Arbitration and Mediation.
In the year 2013, Mr. Jayasuriya was appointed by the Minister of Justice to a sub-committee tasked with the responsibility of drafting the new laws as well as rules required to operate the Colombo International Arbitration Centre. In the year 2019, he was appointed as an Honorary Legal Advisor to the Ministry of Defence and was appointed as a Senior Fellow of the Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka.
Outside his legal practice, Mr. Jayasuriya is a former Honorary Secretary of the S Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, Old Boys Association. Further, in the year 2016, he was elected as the Honorary Secretary of the prestigious Mahabodhi Society of Sri Lanka, which is one of the oldest Buddhist organizations in the world established in the year 1891 by the Buddhist Revivalist Leader, the late Anagarika Dharmapala.
Professor M. Sornarajah is an Emeritus Professor at the Faculty of Law of the National University of Singapore. He was the Tunku Abdul Rahman Professor of International Law at the University of Malaya at Kuala Lumpur. He had also headed the Law School of the University of Tasmania, Australia. He studied Law at the University of Ceylon, the London School of Economics, King’s College, London and the Yale Law School. He was a Research Fellow at the Centre for International Law, Cambridge and at the Max Planck Institut fur Offentliches Auslandisches Recht at Heidelburg, Germany.
He was also a Visiting Professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto (where he delivered the Pierre Genest Distinguished Lecture), Carleton University, Ottawa (where he delivered the Simon Reisman Lecture), the University of Malaya (where he delivered the Tun Suffian Lecture), the Centre for Petroleum and Natural Resources Law at the University of Dundee, Scotland, the Human Rights Centre of the London School of Economics, American University, Washington DC, the World Trade Institute of the Universities of Berne and Neuchatel, Switzerland, Kyushu University, Japan, the Xiamen Academy of International Law, China, Xi’An Jiatao University, China, Beijing School of Transnational Law, China, Fundacio Gerulaitis Vargas Law School, Sao Paolo, Brazil and at the Georgetown Centre for Transnational Legal Studies, London. He has also lectured at the Supreme Court Judges Retreat at the National Judicial Institute, Bhopal, India.
Professor M. Sornarajah is the author of ‘The Pursuit of Nationalized Property’ (Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, 1986); ‘International Commercial Arbitration’ (Longman, 1992); ‘The Law of International Joint Ventures’ (Longman, 1994); ‘The International Law on Foreign Investment’ (Cambridge University Press, 1996, 2004, 2010, 2015 and 2020 Editions); ‘The Settlement of Foreign Investment Disputes’ (Kluwer, The Hague, 2001) and ‘Resistance and Change in the International Law on Foreign Investment’ (Cambridge University Press, 2015). He is the Joint Editor of ‘China, India and the International Economic Law’ (with Andrew Mitchell and Tania Voon; Oxford University Press, 2015). His book with Margot Salomon and John Linarelli, ‘The Misery of International Law’, was published in 2018 by Oxford University Press and won the Book Prize of the European Society of International Law. He is a member of the Advisory Boards of the International and Comparative Law Quarterly, the Indian Journal of International Law and several other international journals.
Professor Sornarajah was the Director of the UNCTAD/WTO Programme on Investment Treaties, Pretoria and New Delhi. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Columbia Centre of Sustainable Investment.
Professor Sornorajah has been an Arbitrator, Counsel and an expert in several leading investment arbitrations. He is an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Ceylon, an Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Singapore and a Solicitor of the High Court of England and Wales. He is a Fellow of the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration. He is on the Regional Panel of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) and the Kuala Lumpur Regional Arbitration Centre. He is a member of the Presidential Commission on Foreign Investment of Ecuador. He is an Honorary Member of the Indian Society of International Law. As an Arbitrator, Professor M. Sornarajah has sat on tribunals of the International Centre on the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the Permanent Court of Arbitration and SIAC. He has argued cases before the aforesaid tribunals and other centres.
Professor Srilal Perera has an LL.B from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka and he is an Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. He has an MA from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of the Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. from Georgetown University in Washington DC.
Professor Perera is a retired Adjunct Professor of Law of the Washington College of Law of the American University (WCL), Washington DC where he taught a course on International Law of Foreign Investment.
He served as Chief Counsel of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) of the World Bank Group during the period between 1989 and 2010. Professor Perera has also served as Legal Counsel at the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in the Hague from 1986 to 1989. He is also on the Panel of Arbitrators and Mediators of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and a member of the Panel of Arbitrators of the Thailand Arbitration Centre (THAC). He has several publications to his credit on subjects directly concerning Investor State Dispute Settlement.
President’s Counsel and Former Attorney General of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Senior Consultant (Criminal Law and Public Law)
Mr. Palitha Fernando, President’s Counsel, is a former Attorney General of Sri Lanka. He took oaths as an Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in 1979 and was appointed as a President’s Counsel in the year 2007. He obtained an LL.B and an LL.M in International Law from the University of Colombo. He is a Chevening Scholar and has obtained an LL.M in International Commercial Law from the University of Bristol, United Kingdom.
He joined the Attorney General’s Department of Sri Lanka in 1980 as an Acting State Counsel and was appointed as the Attorney General of Sri Lanka in 2012. He was a Rear Admiral of the Volunteer Force of the Sri Lanka Navy and served as the Head of the Legal Division of the Sri Lanka Navy and was the Judge Advocate of the Sri Lanka Navy till 2004. He was appointed as a member of the Law Commission of Sri Lanka in 2011 and is a Past President of the Medico-Legal Society of Sri Lanka and a Past Chairman of the Criminal Justice Sector Coordinating Committee established by the Ministry of Justice of Sri Lanka in collaboration with the Swedish Government.
An Attorney-at-Law by profession, Mr. Weerasinghe is a former State Counsel of the Attorney General’s Department and counts almost twenty-nine years as an Attorney-at-Law. He has obtained post graduate qualifications in International Relations / Affairs, including a Masters. He has received Executive Education in Management from the National University of Singapore (NUS).
A former Director-General / Chief Executive Officer of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, he relinquished office in March 2021 and reverted to the private bar. During his tenure Mr. Weerasinghe represented employer interests and gave leadership to the EFC during crucial times. Handling of the interpretation related issues of the Budgetary Relief Allowance Relief Allowance Act in 2016, handling of industrial relations and related matters on behalf of the plantation sector employers during a critical period for the industry (2015 to 2020) and formulation of a mechanism to pay pro-rated wages to employees who absent themselves due to covid 19 related issues – which was later implemented based on a Tri-partite Agreement agreed at National level (May 2020 to June 2021) – can be cited as a few examples where much needed relief was passed on to employers. The implementation of the latter enabled the country to avert mass un-employment and sustain businesses at a critical juncture in 2020.
He was also elected as the Vice Chairman from 2017 to 2019 and thereafter as Chairman of the South Asian Employers Forum (Consisting of IOE members and ILO employer constituents in South Asia). He also functioned as an elected substitute employer member of the Governing body of the ILO (2017 to 2020) and as a steering committee member in the business mechanism of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) during the period 2018 to 2020.
Mr. Weerasinghe is an expert in Labour Law, Industrial Relations and all aspects relating to Employment including skills development and migration. Similarly, he is considered as an expert in social dialogue and as a consensus builder.
Since March 2021, Mr. Weerasinghe has been retained by the ILO/ ACTEMP (in Geneva/ Turin) as a Senior Consultant to carry out several special assignments. He has also been retained as a Consultant by leading firms / Multi-lateral Organizations in Sri Lanka in his capacity as a Senior Specialist in Labour Law & all aspect of Employment.
Mr. Weerasinghe was appointed to the panel of experts tasked with proposing reforms to Labour Laws of Sri Lanka by the Hon. Minister of Justice. He was also appointed as an ‘Accredited Advisor (honorary) to the Swiss Embassy in Sri Lanka’ with effect from 1st March 2021 and as the Employer representative on the Standards Review Mechanism-Tripartite Working Group of the ILO – nominated by the International Organization of Employers (IOE) in Geneva (2021 – 2024).
Mr. Weerasinghe is a member of the Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission of Sri Lanka and a member of the policy committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (Sri Lanka Chapter).
Based on his competencies and experience, Mr. Weerasinghe can provide legal and associated services in respect of all matters related to employment including, providing thought leadership, advising on all aspects of Labour Law and Industrial Relations, providing beginning to end employment related solutions, including pre-recruitment safeguards, guidance on recruitment strategies, performance management and dealing with issues related to winding up, formulating employment related policies including OSH, providing documentation including letters of appointment, job-descriptions, and formulation of related KPIs, non-disclosure agreements, vendor agreements etc., providing advice of remuneration policies, vetting of existing documentation and records, carrying out Labour Law related compliance audits, providing assistance regarding all aspect of organizational management issues including development of structures as well as transformation etc., services related to Dispute Settlement, providing assistance with labour litigation including representation before the Department of Labour, original and appellate Courts, providing advice to boards of directors on strengthening compliance of Labour Law & Human Capital Management as well as and governance related issues and has the ability to link up with Employer Business Member Organizations (EBMOs) in the Asian and other regions in the World.