Clifford Smith has a broadly based commercial practice and has been involved in some of Hong Kong’s heaviest civil cases, including ADS v. Wheelock Marden and the recent Akai litigation. Since taking silk in 2001 his field of practice has broadened even further to include tax, telecommunications and broadcasting law.
He is ranked in Band 1 of the Leading Silks by Chambers & Partners’ “Chambers Asia”, the Directory of Asia’s Leading Lawyers for Business, where he is noted for having built up a solid reputation representing leading financial institutions and is described as “a talented barrister with outstanding advocacy skills who is also very pleasant to work with” (2011) whose “strengths lie in his intelligent, technical analysis and ability to present a powerful argument” (2008). Well over two hundred of his cases have been reported in the law reports.
Clifford Smith SC comes “highly recommended” as an “incredibly bright” Senior Counsel and “one of the most user-friendly members of the Bar.” He wins recognition for the breadth of his commercial practice, which includes particular strengths in insolvency issues, company law and cases arising in the technology, telecoms and financial services sectors. Known widely as a “very experienced advocate who is well known to the judges,” he is also praised as “super hands-on." “Often SCs rely on the junior to do a lot of the work, but he really takes care of everything and is a very reliable person, good for clients to work with.”
Chambers & Partners Asia Pacific (2021)
‘ First-class and tenacious, he is a very experienced advocate and well-known to the judges. Counsel of choice in shipping disputes, whenever there is a difficult and novel point of law. The 'very experienced' Clifford Smith SC also has a track record of the jurisdiction's key shipping cases.’ Clifford Smith is acknowledged as a Leading Silk for Commercial Disputes and Shipping.
Legal 500 Asia Pacific HK Bar (2021)
Clifford Smith SC of Des Voeux Chambers is commended extensively by interviewees who typically characterise him as “an eloquent, hard-working and very fair advocate who doesn't take bad points” and is “always on top of his material.” References to his consistently “proper and polite” demeanour in court are, however, accompanied by others reporting his ability to “stand his ground relentlessly” when necessary, and the warning: “Don't underestimate him.” His wide-ranging practice is rich in experience of company law, insolvency, taxation and international trade issues as well as general commercial ones.
Chambers & Partners Asia Pacific (2020)
- v.  5 HKLRD 804 (CFA). No jurisdiction to order security for costs of a claim brought by an insolvent overseas company with a place of business in Hong Kong.
- v.  3 HKLRD 94 and FAMV 28/2009 (Court of Appeal and CFA). Whether summary judgment is available or appropriate where the underlying claim is based on allegations of fraud.
- v. (2008) HKCFAR 321 (CFA). Professional negligence; whether solicitors held money as stakeholder or trustee; duty to advise client of risk of transferring money to another firm.
- v.  2 HKLRD 40 (CFA). Effect of anti avoidance provision on tax liability of subsidiary company developing land bought from parent at price referable to share of redevelopment profits.
- v. (2007) 10 HKCFAR 256 (CFA). Jurisdiction to order costs to be paid by an interested non party who funds an action brought by the liquidators of an insolvent company.
- v. (2006) HKCFAR 545 (CFA). Provisions of Bankruptcy Ordinance obliging bankrupt to notify trustee in bankruptcy of travel plans are unconstitutional as restricting Basic Law right of freedom to travel.