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 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)
Clifford Smith SC of Des Voeux Chambers is particularly noted for his combination of “very impressive thoroughness” in preparation and a “patient and non-aggressive” presentational style, well calculated to “persuade the people in the courtroom in such a way that no one will be offended.” His broad commercial practice embraces noted niche strengths in the telecommunications and broadcasting spheres. Also an experienced handler of insolvency cases, he acted for the provisional liquidators in the High Court’s consideration of Re China Solar Energy Holdings, a matter concerning the circumstances under which liquidators are appointed and the extent of their restructuring powers.
Chambers & Partners Asia Pacific (2019)
Clifford Smith SC of Des Voeux Chambers is the recipient of spontaneous recommendations by solicitors and viewed by peers as a “very fair, very hard-working” silk whose popularity makes him “very busy all the time.” He is also described as a “very active thinker” and “very persuasive to judges.” Noted for the breadth of his practice, he has lately been prominently engaged in, among others, cases involving banking, insolvency and trading disputes.
Chambers & Partners Asia Pacific (2018)
- 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.