skip to Main Content

Session Speakers & Chairs

Mr Sunil D B Abeyaratne | Bar Association of Sri Lanka (SRI LANKA)

Sunil Dhajaya Bandara Abeyaratne (Justice of Peace and Unofficial Magistrate) enrolled as an Attorney-at-law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in 1986. He holds a LL.M (Queen Mary College of University of London), MBA (Indira Gandhi National Open University) and Diploma in Forensic Medicine, Science and Toxicology (Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo). He is a PRIME graduate (International trainer) of Junior Chamber International.

He is a practising Attorney-at-Law in the fields of civil, commercial and criminal law. He is a Commercial Arbitrator and visiting lecturer and examiner of Sri Lanka Law College, Faculty of Law and Faculty of Medicine of University of Colombo, Department of Law of University of Peradeniya and Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) on ICT Law and related subjects. He is also a lecturer and examiner of the Institute for development of Commercial Laws & Practices (ICLP) and the Arbitration Centre of Kandy (TACK) on Construction and Arbitration Law. He has been appointed as a researcher of China-South Asia Law Research Center.

Sunil has presented over 100 conference & seminar papers at national and international conferences including LAWASIA, IBA & 800th Anniversary celebration of Magna Carta Conferences, as well as contributed over 100 articles to leading local and international law journals on ICT law, Intellectual Property Rights and employment law.

He was Vice-President and Executive Committee Member of LAWASIA, Secretary of the BASL and member of the Incorporated Council of Legal Education in Sri Lanka. Currently he holds the positions of Co-Chair of Data Protection, Communication and Technology Committee and Secretary of the Employment Law Committee of LAWASIA, Chairman of the Continuing Legal Education and Digitalisation of Court System Program and course coordinator of the ICT law course of the BASL, Chairman of the Arbitration Centre of Kandy, ICT Lawyers’ Guild of Sri Lanka and the Institute of Legal and Management Studies in Sri Lanka.

Mr Jon Apted | Munro Leys (FIJI)

Before joining Munro Leys in 2000, Jon had a long and varied career in Government legal service. He was one of the two legal counsel to the Fiji Constitution Review Commission, chaired by Sir Paul Reeves (1995-1996) and was also the Supervisor of Elections responsible for the supervision of Fiji’s 1992 and 1994 Parliamentary elections. He was later appointed as Fiji’s Permanent Arbitrator and as the Sugar Industry Tribunal.

At Munro Leys, Jon advises and litigates in the areas of constitutional, employment, general commercial and intellectual property law.

Jon is an occasional presenter and commentator on public law issues in Fiji.

Mr Bernard Banks | Gibson Sheat Lawyers (NEW ZEALAND)

Bernard is a part time Consultant at Gibson Sheat Lawyers, in Wellington, New Zealand and a former Partner and Consultant at Kiely Thompson Caisley in Auckland and Wellington. His current role focuses on immigration law and he has previously worked in both employment and immigration law in practice.

Bernard consults on issues of employment law and labour market regulation and reform in the Asia Pacific region. In recent years, this has included project roles for international organisations in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Fiji.

Bernard regularly travels to South East Asia, particularly Malaysia and Vietnam, and he greatly enjoys his professional relationships with employment law colleagues in the region.

He is Chair of LAWASIA’s Employment Law Committee and has been at the centre of the Committee’s activities in the Asia Pacific region for many years.

Bernard is an Executive Committee member of the ASEAN New Zealand Business Council and serves as the Council’s Laos Chapter Chair.

He is a co-author of Mazengarb’s Employment Law text book and a joint editor of the Employment Law Bulletin. He has presented papers on labour law, immigration law and related issues at numerous conferences in New Zealand and overseas.

Hon Mr Justice Suresh Chandra | Supreme Court of Fiji (FIJI)

In 1972, Justice Chandra was Admitted to the Bar in Sri Lanka as an Advocate. He obtained a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) and Master of Laws (LL.M.) Degree from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Justice Chandra was a Practitioner at the Private Bar and appeared as Counsel in the Original Courts and the Appellate Courts from 1972 to 2008. He was a Consultant to several leading Banks, Private and Public Institutions, and served as a member of the Panel of Arbitrators of the National Arbitration Centre.

Justice Chandra was a Visiting Lecturer, Course Director and Examiner at the Faculty of Graduate Studies of the Colombo University, and was also a visiting Lecturer and Examiner at the Open University of Sri Lanka, Moratuwa University and the Sri Lanka Law College. He has over 30 years’ experience as a lecturer.

Justice Chandra was a Senior Consulting Editor of the Colombo Appellate Law Reports and was a Consultant to the World Bank on the Land Titling Project and USAID Projects in association with Nathan Associates of USA. He was instrumental in structuring the Coir Council, the Ceramics Council and the Spice Council for the first time in Sri Lanka. He also served as a Legal Consultant for the Tea Sourcing Partnership of London and was an external Collaborator and Consultant to the International Labour Organization in Colombo.

Justice Chandra was the Senior Legal Consultant to the Southern Development Authority in 1996. He was the Legal Consultant on Industrial Relations of the Board of Investments of Sri Lanka from 2007 to 2008, a member of the National Labour Advisory Council of Sri Lanka and a member of the Labour Law Reforms Committee of the Ministry of Labour in 2007 – 2008.

Justice Chandra served as the Deputy Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York in 2009 and was appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka on 17th June 2010. He retired from the Supreme Court on 3rd July 2012.

Justice Chandra was appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court in Fiji in October 2011 and was appointed a Resident Justice of Appeal in September 2012. He has been the National Coordinator of the National Judicial Education Committee, Chairperson of the Fiji Law Reports Committee, Committee Member and Accredited Mediator of the Fiji Mediation Centre.

Mr Graeme Colgan | Retired Chief Judge of the Employment Law Court (NEW ZEALAND)

Graeme Colgan was admitted to the New Zealand bar as a barrister and solicitor in 1976, having graduated LlB (Hons) from the University of Auckland. He practised in general litigation, especially in employment, family and criminal law, as a partner in a small but long-established legal practice specialising in industrial relations. After going to the independent bar in 1987, he was appointed a Judge of the (then) Labour Court in 1989 at the age of 35 years. He was, and remains, the youngest appointee to the specialist employment courts since they were established in 1894. In 2005 he was appointed Chief Judge of the Employment Court and, upon his retirement in 2017 after 28 years on the bench, was the longest-serving Judge of that Court and its predecessors.

Graeme Colgan now practises as a barrister undertaking mediations, arbitrations, opinion work and independent workplace investigations. In July 2019 Graeme will take up a 7-year part-time appointment as a Judge of the United Nations Appeals Tribunal, the appellate court deciding employment-related disputes involving staff of the UN and other international organisations.

Graeme is a former Chair of the Employment Law Standing Committee of LAWASIA.

Mr Eduardo Cruz | Corney & Lind Lawyers (AUSTRALIA)

Eduardo was admitted to practise in the Supreme Court of Queensland and High Court of Australia in November 2004. Originally from El Salvador, he attended St Laurence’s College before obtaining the following qualifications: Bachelor of Arts (UQ), Bachelor of Laws (UQ), Professional Legal Education & Training (UQ), Graduate Certificate in Trade Mark Law and Practice (UTS), Masters in Public & International Law (Melbourne) (2nd Class Hon) and Graduate Certificate in Australian Migration Law & Practice (1st Class Hon).

His career spans working in the private sector for mid-tier and boutique specialist firms, a not-for-profit organisation and WorkCover Queensland. Areas of client advice and representation include personal injury litigation (motor vehicle accident claims, workers compensation claims, public/product liability claims, medical negligence, superannuation TPD claims and dependency claims), employment, discrimination, intellectual property and migration.

Eduardo has a heart for assisting those that have suffered social injustices whether here in Australia or abroad. Helping the marginalised including refugees and migrants, Eduardo uses his legal skill sets including translation to Spanish to assist his clients.

Eduardo currently serves on the Accident Compensation & Tort Law Committee of the Queensland Law Society and on the Board of Nutrition Australia Queensland as Deputy Chair. He is a fanatical Brisbane Roar and Socceroos supporter and has completed the Camino de Santiago de Compostela on three occasions.

Mr Mayank Francis Dias | Michael Dias & Associates (INDIA)

After completing his LLB from the Faculty of Law at Delhi University, Mr Dias did his Clerkship with Hon’ble Justice Vikramajit Sen at the Supreme Court of India for a year. During this period, he worked closely with the Hon’ble Judge on various Commercial & Constitutional matters. After completing his Clerkship at the Supreme Court, he started practising as a lawyer at the firm Garg & Garg, where he handled several criminal cases.

In 2017, Mr Dias joined his family law firm, Michael Dias & Associates, where he specialises in Employment Law as well as Alternate Dispute Resolution. He provides litigation and consultancy services to Multi-National Corporations, Non-Governmental Organisations, Airlines, Schools, Public Sector Undertakings, Fashion Houses and the like. He is associated with several Chambers of Commerce such as CII, ASSOCHAM, FICCI and PHD Chamber. He is also a part of several Internal Committees constituted under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women Act, 2013.

Mr Michael Dias | Michael Dias & Associates (INDIA)

Michael Dias is the managing partner of Michael Dias & Associates, which has offices in Delhi and Nagpur, India. He has a wealth of experience in employment law and has served as the secretary of the Employers’ Association – Delhi. He has also been certified as a fellow of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and is a member of the panel of arbitrators to deal with construction disputes.

Mr Dias has been an executive member of various governing bodies including the All India Organisation of Employers, the Leprosy Mission of India and Caritas India. He has also been an employer representative on several statutory bodies constituted by the Indian government including the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation and the Central Advisory Committee on Workmen’s Compensation.

Mr Dias is an active member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and LAWASIA and has delivered lectures at various conferences around the world.

Mr John Dong | Shanghai Baohua Law Firm (CHINA)

Mr Dong (John Dong) obtained the LLB degree from East China University of Political Science and Law, and LLM degree from Vanderbilt Law School in U.S.A., holding the

Mr Dong obtained his LLB degree from East China University of Political Science and Law, and his LLM degree from Vanderbilt Law School in U.S.A., holding a bar licence both in China and New York, USA. Mr Dong joined Shanghai Baohua Law Firm when it was established in 2010, and is currently a partner of the firm.

Mr Dong has extensive experience in labour law and also has wide experience in helping companies deal with international commercial disputes involving labour or employment issues. Mr Dong has been honoured as a listed lawyer, Rising Star, Asian Leading Labour Lawyer, and Outstanding Lawyer by various ranking agencies (media) including Chambers, Legal Band and CLECSS.

Mr Dong is also committed to the field of artificial intelligence and standardised legal delivery service, and has organised a series of CLL and HRLC products, including, Intelligent Labour Law Calculator and HRLC Database. These products have greatly advanced the standardised delivery service in the field of labour law.

Mr Dong has also authored and co-authored publications such as “Case Analysis on Latest PRC Labor Contract Law (Chinese – English version)”, “2012 China Labour Law Yearbook (Chinese – English version)” and “HR Legal Counsel” which have been highly commended.

Dr Gordon Hughes AM | Davies Collison Cave Law (AUSTRALIA)

Dr Gordon Hughes was President of LAWASIA from 2001 – 2003. A Melbourne-based legal practitioner, he previously served as President of the Law Council of Australia from 1999 – 2000. Dr Hughes has been a member of the LAWASIA Executive Committee for 20 years, first as an elected member between 1997 and 2012, and since then as a special appointee.

Dr Hughes chaired the LAWASIA Human Rights Committee from 2005 – 2009 and is currently chair of the Business Law Section. He was made a Distinguished Member of LAWASIA in 2005 and an Honorary Life Member in 2007.

Dr Hughes has practised extensively in the area of intellectual property, technology contracts, dispute resolution and data protection, and is the author of leading texts on computer contracts and data privacy.

Mr Stephen Hughes | Franklin Athanasellis Cullen (AUSTRALIA)

Stephen is a workplace relations lawyer with over 20 years’ experience actin for a wide variety of organisations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors across Australia as well as internationally.

Providing high level strategic and operational advice to clients, Stephen’s practice focuses on industrial relations issues, dispute resolution in the courts and Fair Work Commission, work health and safety legislation, workers’ compensation insurance exposures, discrimination and bullying/harassment, Directors and Officers and Employment Practices Liability insurance, post-employment restraints and confidentiality issues.

Stephen has recently been listed in the Legal 500 Industry Guide international publication as a “brilliant” aviation industry expert who “thinks outside the box”.

Dr Junlu Jiang | King & Wood Mallesons (CHINA)

Mr Jiang specialises in labour and social security law. He has advised numerous Chinese state-owned enterprises and multinational companies on employment issues and settlement schemes.

Mr Jiang has obtained outstanding achievement in providing legal advice on recruitment, employment contract, non-compete, and class action in labour dispute arbitration and litigation for our clients. He also has rich experience in dealing with trade unions, collective bargaining and industrial actions.

Mr Jiang is one of the first few persons to receive PhD in labour law in China. The Legal Affairs Office of the PRC State Council appointed Mr Jiang as the leader of a research team in the process of drafting the PRC Employment Contract Law.

Mr Jiang is currently serving as the Deputy Chair of China Social Law Society, the Honorary Chair of the Beijing Labor and Social Security Law Society, and the Guest Professor of the law schools of Peking University, Tsinghua University and Renmin University.

Mr Jiang has been ranked as the first tier of leading individuals by Chambers Asia Pacific from 2009 through 2016.

Ms Bessie Liu | Lanbai Law Firm (CHINA)

Ms Bessie Liu is a senior attorney at Shanghai Lanbai Law Firm. She specialises in providing PRC’s employment law services to various foreign investment companies in China. Enriched with professional employment legal service over 10 years, she helps many enterprises to make, revise and implement delicate employment management policy and corresponding legal documents such as employment contracts and non-competition & non-disclosure agreements. She represents clients in legal proceedings in arbitration and litigation related to the clients’ employment and commercial matters.

Ms Liu also provides practical and effective advice to clients across many complicated employment issues, from commercial and legal perspectives. She is engaged as the outside employment counsel in APAC by many international/domestic companies for their APAC subsidiaries’ M&A projects, spin-off programs, compliance investigation and market-exit projects. Her professional motto is to be dedicated, responsible and reliable for the best interests of the clients.

Ms May Lu | Simmons & Simmons (CHINA)

Ms May Lu has extensive experience with the Chinese legal framework, especially in the areas of employment, corporate and contract law. Additionally, she understands the international commercial practices and has experience in commercial litigation and labour arbitrations in China. She works closely with multinational companies and overseas lawyers as well as Chinese companies in advising employment, regulatory compliance, and foreign direct investment in China matters.

Ms May Lu has practised law in China for more than 12 years with a leading domestic law firm. However, her legal knowledge extends far beyond that as she was a teacher in a university teaching commercial law for three years and continued her masters in Shanghai, at East China University of Political Science and Law, in Belgium, at Ghent University, and in United States, at Columbia Law School.

Ms Poonam Maharaj-Wong | Neel Shivam Lawyers (FIJI)

Poonam Maharaj-Wong (LLB) (IPLS) (NZ) is a Partner with Neel Shivam Lawyers, one of the largest law firms in Suva, Fiji, where she leads the commercial practice division ( She is a graduate of the University of Waikato, New Zealand and admitted to the High Court in New Zealand and in Fiji. Poonam commenced her practice of law in Fiji in 2002.

Initially delving in many areas of law and as a litigator also, Poonam’s practice now focuses on advising corporate clients in relation to general company and commercial law, contracts drafting and negotiation, corporate mergers, acquisitions and restructuring, employment law, foreign investment, real property law and taxation. She is an astute believer in advancing and encouraging alternative and contemporary forms of dispute resolution as alternatives to adversarial approaches in commercial dealings in Fiji including in employment related disputes and matters.

Poonam is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring young individuals in the “private practice” of law. As such, she has enjoyed periods of teaching “Commercial Law” at the University of Fiji’s School of Law.

Poonam is serving as a Councilor elect of the Fiji Law Society for the third year. She is the Council Member Representative of the Fiji Law Society to LAWASIA.

Mr James Sloan | Siwatibau & Sloan (FIJI)

James qualified as a barrister in the UK in 1999 and was admitted to the High Court of Fiji in 2003. Before co-founding the Suva based law firm Siwatibau and Sloan in June 2005, James spent just over 2 years working as an Associate at Munro Leys.

Siwatibau and Sloan is a full service commercial law firm and regularly works in employment related matters –

James has a strong interest in environmental and natural resources/oceans law. In 2008 along with other dedicated individuals James assisted with the founding of the Fiji Environmental Law Association ( and chaired the Executive Management Committee of FELA for 10 years from 2008 to March 2018 in a pro-bono capacity.

In recent years, Siwatibau and Sloan has been active in publishing a variety of commercial law updates, articles and bulletins to provide information related to Fiji and the Pacific region’s legal frameworks that are published via the firm’s website:

From August 2018, James has been teaching part time at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in the areas of law of the sea and oceans governance.

Mr Brian Williamson | WilliamsonBarwick (AUSTRALIA)

Brian undertakes all aspect of Industrial Relations and Employment Law for employers and has done so for over 30 years.

Brian graduated as a solicitor in 1981 and received his Master of Commerce Degree from Deakin University, Victoria, in 1992. Since then, he has qualified as an Accredited Specialist in Industrial Relations and Employment Law (1994) and received an Advanced Diploma (Mastering the Boardroom) from the Australian Institute of Company Directors in 2009.

Before founding WilliamsonLegal in 2010 (now called WilliamsonBarwick from 1 July 2016 to celebrate Adrian Barwick coming into equity), Brian was the Managing Director of another specialist workplace relations law firm, which he founded in 2003.

Prior to that Brian was the Founding Chairperson for the National Workplace Relations Practice Group of a major Australian legal practice.

Brian has a particular interest in strategic management and brings this focus to his clients, when dealing with their Workplace, Industrial Relations and Employment Law issues. Brian also undertakes senior staff training for clients.

Brian’s long standing Accredited Specialist standing has been acknowledged in 2014 by The Law Society of New South Wales with its 20 year anniversary award.

Ms Keat Ching Wong | ZUL RAFIQUE & partners (MALAYSIA)

Wong Keat Ching is a partner of the Industrial Relations & Dispute Resolution practice group at ZUL RAFIQUE & partners. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Law (Hons) from the University of Nottingham and a Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP). She was admitted as Advocate & Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya in 1998.

Keat Ching is listed in Chambers Asia Pacific and the asialaw Profiles under Labour and Employment. In 2015 and 2017, Keat Ching was part of the ZRp Industrial Relations team that won the ALB Labour & Employment Law Firm of the Year award.

Keat Ching is an active litigator in the Malaysian Courts. She has appeared in the Federal Court to argue issues such as the High Court’s supervisory powers over Industrial Court decisions, dismissal of trade union officials, proportionality of punishment and gender discrimination in retirement age. She also handles contractual disputes in the civil courts.

Apart from cases involving discipline, investigation of misconduct and dismissal, Keat Ching also provides regular advice on corporate restructuring affecting employees, in particular M&A exercises; voluntary separation scheme (VSS); restructuring of senior management positions; establishment and closure of foreign companies in Malaysia, as well as labour due diligence.

Back To Top