Des Voeux Chambers, also widely known as “DVC”, was founded in 1984 by an amalgamation of prominent former members of the Attorney General’s Chambers and former law lecturers who had taught at the University of Hong Kong. It was first headed by Neil Kaplan, Q.C., who was appointed a High Court Judge in 1990 and went on to head the Construction & Arbitration List of the High Court until his retirement from the Bench. He was succeeded by John Griffiths, S.C. (formerly Attorney-General of Hong Kong from 1979 to 1983), who was in turn followed by Daniel Fung S.C. (formerly Solicitor-General of Hong Kong 1994 to 1998).
Today, Des Voeux Chambers is headed by John Scott, S.C. and is home to more than 50 astute legal minds, many of whom have appeared at the helm of numerous groundbreaking cases. 13 members have been called to the Inner Bar and appointed Senior Counsel in Hong Kong and/or Queen's Counsel in England. Several members are qualified in other jurisdictions such as England, the People's Republic of China(mainland), the United States, Australia, Singapore and the British Virgin Islands. Des Voeux Chambers is consistently rated by Chambers & Partners as a Leading Set of Chambers in Band 1, and has been awarded "Chambers of the Year" 6 times by Asian Legal Business.
Chambers has a distinguished record of public service. Members have sat as Recorders, or as Deputy Judges, and/or have been appointed to important public bodies such as the Basic Law Committee.
Former distinguished members include The Honourable Mr. Justice Kaplan (in charge of the Construction & Arbitration List) (retired), The Honourable Mr. Justice Stone (in charge of the Commercial Court) (retired), The Honourable Mrs. Justice Barnes and The Honourable Mr. Justice Harris, the current Companies Judge.
Administrative and Public Law
This area of the law principally involves legal challenges to decisions of public bodies and continues to develop at a rapid pace given that the Hong Kong SAR has its own written constitution, the Basic Law. DVC houses an ex-Attorney General, an ex-Solicitor General and prominent members of the former Attorney General’s Chambers, and many members have been involved in leading administrative and public law cases, such as the Link REIT litigation and the recent appeal to the Court of Final Appeal involving important questions of state immunity. Members are also regularly involved in commercial judicial reviews, including acting for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and in various public inquiries.
Building and Construction
DVC has a strong tradition in the building and construction areas. Our first head of Chambers was elevated to head the Construction and Arbitration List in the High Court, whilst other members have held important offices in the field such as the Chairperson of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre. To this day, DVC maintains a strong presence in these areas, with an army of construction specialists who frequently act as advocates and arbitrators in local and international arbitrations. John Scott S.C. and a team of members are also editors of “Hong Kong Construction Law”, a leading text on building and construction law in Hong Kong.
The chancery jurisdiction of the court covers matters such as trusts, land, probate and administration of estates. DVC has a strong presence in this area, as exemplified by the involvement of many of our members in the recent Nina Wang litigation.
DVC is widely recognised as one of the leading commercial sets of chambers in town. A former member sat as the Judge in charge of the Commercial Court for many years, and most of our members are well equipped to handle complicated commercial litigation and arbitration on short notice. Clients include public and private companies, partnerships and individuals across a wide range of sectors both within Hong Kong and internationally. Specific areas of expertise include agency and distributorship disputes, banking and financial services, commercial arrangements and contracts, competition, employment, international trade, sale and carriage of goods, and telecommunications.
DVC houses a large number of specialists in company and insolvency law, with several of its members being co-authors of leading company law texts in Hong Kong. One of the current Companies Judges is a former member of DVC, and our members are frequent visitors to the Companies Court in both contentious and non-contentious matters, a recent example being the proceedings relating to the proposed privatisation of PCCW. Our members frequently appear in a wide spectrum of company disputes, including shareholders disputes, joint venture disputes, liquidation and winding up litigations.
Chambers has a strong grounding in family law. Our set has catered to clients in divorce and separation cases, many prominent, as well as matrimonial settlements. Many cases are multi-jurisdictional and we have recently played a major role in litigation in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and Singapore.
Commercially savvy clients do not underestimate the overall value that intellectual property assets represent to their business, or the need to protect these assets against unauthorized use, especially in a climate dominated by electronic and internet communications. Members who practice in this area offer a wealth of experience in disputes relating to copyright, industrial designs, patents, trademark infringement, passing off, confidential information and trade secrets.
Given that Hong Kong is home to the second largest securities market in Asia, members’ knowledge of corporate tax, securities and licensing matters is used to assist clients who become embroiled in structuring, regulatory, and IPO disputes. Their experience encompasses the complex regulatory framework – including related criminal proceedings – which governs today's financial market.
DVC has a number of leading tax practitioners who are able to provide commercial and pragmatic solutions for a spectrum of tax issues including tax compliance and governance, strategic tax planning and international tax planning. Various members routinely act for both the taxpayer and Commissioner of Inland Revenue, and have appeared in landmark tax cases.