donovan cheah

“Knows labour and employment law

like the back of his hand and is second to none.”

Legal 500 Asia Pacific

Head of Employment Law and Dispute Resolution

Donovan leads the firm’s employment law and dispute resolution practice. His experience in this field has been recognised for successive years by legal publications such as the Legal 500, Chambers and Partners, asialaw, and Benchmark Litigation. He has been described as “understanding, efficient and direct” and “the name to note”.

Besides drafting employment contracts and handbooks, Donovan offers sound advice on workforce reductions, employee termination and compliance issues. He also represents corporate clients in employment litigation like unfair dismissal claims, civil claims involving employees, and judicial review proceedings.

Beyond employment law and industrial relations, Donovan has extensive experience in dispute resolution. He regularly represents international corporations in commercial and civil litigation, international arbitrations, and construction adjudication. 

Donovan was previously the regional counsel for one of the world’s largest paints and coatings manufacturers. In this role, he oversaw the organisation’s in-house legal services in South East Asia, supporting business units in the region across 6 countries, in addition to Australia and New Zealand.

He is the author of  Navigating Employment Disputes in Malaysia”, and was the contributing editor to the Annotated Statutes of Malaysia’s Employment Act 1955 and the Employees Provident Fund Act 1991. He sits as the Co-Deputy Chair of the Malaysian Bar’s Industrial and Employment Law Committee.


“There cannot be anyone better than Donovan to give advice that makes perfect commercial sense.”

–Chambers and Partners

“Superb in providing unparalleled advice”

–Legal 500 Asia Pacific

“Extremely knowledgeable and shows business depth.”

–Benchmark Litigation

“Donovan goes above and beyond with advisory support. He ensures there is a proper framework and knowledge transfer.”

–Client Feedback


  • Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya
  • Panel Arbitrator, Singapore Institute of Arbitrators (Secondary Panel)
  • FSIArb – Fellow, Singapore Institute of Arbitrators 
  • FMIArb – Fellow, Malaysian Institute of Arbitrators
  • MCIArb – Member, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
  • Co-Deputy Chair of the Malaysian Bar Council’s Industrial and Employment Law Committee



Legal 500

Leading Individual

Chambers and Partners

Chambers and Partners

Ranked Practitioner


Asialaw Profiles

Distinguished Practitioner


Benchmark Litigation

Litigation Star



  • Represented various corporate clients across various industries in unfair dismissal claims filed by former employees, and in trade union disputes. 
  • Advised multinational corporations across various industries on restructuring, right-sizing and workforce reduction exercises. 
  • Advised an international hotel operator on employment issues relating to the sale and purchase of a luxury hotel and the corresponding migration of employees following the acquisition.
  • Acted as an investigator for sexual harassment complaints to conduct impartial and confidential investigations.
  • Represented employers in civil proceedings against former employees for fraud and breach of duties. This includes applying for and obtaining injunctive relief against the former employees to prevent dissipation of assets pending trial.
  • Advised corporate clients on disciplinary/termination procedures for employees alleged to be involved in gross misconduct (eg: fraud, conflict of interest, sexual harassment)
  • Advised various corporate clients on Malaysian employment law, including preparation of employment contracts, policies, and handbooks for their workforce in Malaysia.


  • Presiding as arbitrator in private education arbitrations under the Singapore CPE Mediation-Arbitration Scheme.
  • Represented an international retailer in a construction arbitration with claims and counterclaims totaling more than RM25 million.
  • Represented a global investment fund in an international arbitration involving claims of AUD$6 million.
  • Represented a main contractor in multiple arbitrations and court proceedings involving the construction of a multistorey retail outlet and car park building.
  • Represented sub-contractors and main contractors in adjudication proceedings involving non-payment of claims in construction projects.

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