Partner – Head of Employment Law & Dispute Resolution
“Practice head Donovan Cheah attracts praise for his professionalism, thoroughness and efficiency.”
Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2020
Donovan leads the firm’s employment law and dispute resolution practice. His work in the profession has been recognised by publications such as the Legal 500, Chambers & Partners, Asialaw and Benchmark Litigation. The Legal 500 Asia Pacific has named him as a recommended lawyer for labour and employment in their 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 rankings, where he is described as “understanding, efficient and direct“ and “the name to note“.
Donovan assists corporate clients on various employment law issues, including drafting of employment contracts and handbooks, advising on workforce reductions, termination of employees and compliance issues, and representing them in employment litigation such as unfair dismissal claims and judicial review proceedings involving the decisions of the Industrial Court or the Minister of Human Resources.
Donovan has extensive experience in dispute resolution and has represented international corporations in a wide range of matters, including commercial and civil litigation, international arbitrations, intellectual property disputes and construction adjudication.
In addition to his private practice experience, he was also the former regional legal counsel for South East Asia of PPG Industries, one of the largest paints and coatings manufacturers in the world. 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.
Donovan is also a registered foreign lawyer with the Singapore International Commercial Court. He is a Fellow at the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators and the Malaysian Institute of Arbitrators. He sits on the Malaysian Bar’s Industrial and Employment Law Committee.
Employment Law & Industrial Relations
- Representing various corporate clients (including multinationals in the telecommunications and software industry and chemicals industry) in unfair dismissal claims filed by former employees
- Advising multinational corporations in various industries (such as information technology and manufacturing) on restructuring and redundancy exercises
- Advising a multinational manufacturing company on compliance issues relating to employer’s statutory obligations under the Employees Provident Fund Act
- Representing a multinational shipping services company in a civil suit against a former employee for breach of contract and breach of duties
- Advising corporate clients on disciplinary/termination procedure for employees alleged to be involved in gross misconduct (eg: fraud, conflict of interest)
- Advising various corporate clients, including a multinational IT training company, a manufacturer of aircraft maintenance facilities, a property management company and local start-ups on Malaysian employment law and preparing employment contracts for their workforce in Malaysia
- Presiding as arbitrator in private education arbitrations under the Singapore CPE Mediation-Arbitration Scheme.
- Representing an international retailer in an arbitration with a claims and counterclaims totaling more than RM25 million.
- Representing a global investment fund in an international arbitration involving claims of AUD$6 million
- Representing a construction company in a civil suit for breach of contract amounting to RM7 million
- Representing a main contractor in multiple arbitrations involving the construction of a multistorey retail outlet and car park building
- Representing an international oil and gas pipeline construction company in international arbitration for a claim of US$14.5 million
- Representing a multinational steel-making company in a civil action for a claim of approximately RM1 million
- Representing sub-contractors and main contractors in adjudication proceedings involving non-payment of claims in construction projects.
- Legal 500 Asia Pacific
(2020) “professional, thorough and efficient” – Recommended Lawyer for Labour and Employment
(2019) “the key contact” – Recommended Lawyer for Labour and Employment
(2018) “the name to note” – Recommended Lawyer for Labour and Employment, Corporate and M&A
(2017) “understanding, efficient and direct” – Recommended Lawyer for Labour and Employment
- Chambers Asia Pacific
(2020) Up and Coming Practitioner, Employment & Industrial Relations
(2019) “well versed with technology and able to respond quickly” – Up and Coming Practitioner, Employment & Industrial Relations
- Asialaw Profiles and Asialaw Leading Lawyers
(2021) Notable Practitioner for Labour and Employment
(2020) Outstanding Lawyer for Labour and Employment, asialaw Client Service Excellence Survey 2020
(2020) “expert advice, consultative…” – Notable Practitioner for Labour and Employment
(2019) “very professional…“; “knowledgeable, fast and able to provide all-rounded views for consideration” – Notable Firm for Labour and Employment
- Benchmark Litigation
(2020) Dispute Resolution Star & Tier 2 for Labour and Employment
(2019) “extremely knowledgeable and shows business depth…”; “responsive, proactive and leads well.” – Dispute Resolution Star & Tier 2 for Labour and Employment
(2018) “very thorough and excellent”; “sharp in understanding the issues” – Tier 2 for Labour and Employment
- Asian Legal Business
(2018) 40 Under 40
- Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya (2007)
- Certificate in Legal Practice (2006)
- LLB (Hons), University of London (2005)
- Registered Foreign Lawyer (Full Registration), Singapore International Commercial Court
- Panel Arbitrator, Singapore Institute of Arbitrators (Secondary Panel)
- FSIArb – Fellow, Singapore Institute of Arbitrators
- FMIArb – Fellow, Malaysian Institute of Arbitrators
- FAIADR – Fellow, Asian Institute of Alternative Dispute Resolution
- MCIArb – Member, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
- Trade Mark Agent, Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia
- Advocacy Trainer, Malaysian Bar Advocacy Training Course
- Member of the Malaysian Bar Council’s Industrial and Employment Law Committee (2017 – present)
- Member of the Malaysian Bar Council’s Arbitration Committee (2020 – present)
- Member of the Malaysian Bar Council’s Professional Standards and Development Committee (2015 -2019)