Clifford Smith, SC

  • MA, University College, Oxford

Year of call

  • 1974 (England and Wales)
  • 1982 (Hong Kong)
  • 2001 (Hong Kong Inner Bar)


Clifford Smith SC 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 consistently ranked as a leading Silk in Chambers & Partners (Asia-Pacific) where he has recently been commended for his “impressive thoroughness,” for being “a very active thinker” and for his “outstanding advocacy skills” and his “intelligent technical analysis” as well as his standout ability to “present a powerful argument.”

Well over 200 of his cases have been reported in the law reports.

  • Perfekta Enterprises v. Commissioner of Inland Revenue [2019] HKCFA 25 Profits tax; CFA considers test for change of intention from holding capital asset to trading (with Justin Lam)
  • Win More Shipping v. Director of Marine [2019] HKCKI 1137 Application for judicial review of alleged decision to de-register a ship in context of sanctions imposed on North Korea; legal effect of UN Security Council Resolutions (with Adrian Lai)
  • Rafaat Imamam v. Life (China) Co Ltd [2018] 4 HKLRD 152 Whether court should give pre-approval for litigation funding (with Sabrina Ho and Tommy Cheung) and Re A [2020] HKCFI 493 (with Sabrina Ho) involving the same issue re litigation funding.
  • China Solar Energy Holdings (No 2) [2018] 2 HKLRD 338 Role of provisional liquidators with restructuring powers (with Alexander Tang). This case resulted in Des Voeux Chambers being awarded by Global Restructuring Review the prize, on 26 June 2018 in London, for the most significant insolvency or restructuring related litigation.
  • T v. A [2018] 3 HKLRD 730   Authority to commence arbitration proceedings (with Jason Yu)
  • Luen Ford [2018] 3 HKLRD 718 Winding up petition based on dishonoured cheques given to pay solicitor’s fees (with Edward Tang)
  • University of Hong Kong v. HK Broadcasting [2016] 4 HKLRD 113 Breach of confidence; injunction to restrain disclosure of audio recordings (with Martin Kok) LDK Solar [2015] 1 HKLRD 458 Scheme of arrangement involving larger cross-border restructuring (with Kerby Lau)
  • The Almojil 61 [2015] 3 HKLRD 598 Whether agreement to pay part of purchase price created a loan or an acquisition of part ownership under an express trust
  • The Alas [2014] 4 HKLRD 160 Whether unsatisfied foreign arbitral award was a bar to an in rem action based on the underlying claim for unpaid charter hire
  • Akai v. Ernst & Young [2009] 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.
  • Pacific Electric Wire & Cable v. Harmutty [2009] 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.
  • Hebei Enterprises v. Livasiri (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.
  • Commissioner of Inland Revenue v. Tai Hing Cotton Mill (Development) Ltd [2008] 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.
  • World Fuel Services v. Florens Container Inc (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.
  • Official Receiver v. Trustee in Bankruptcy of Chan Wing Hing (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.