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David Smail

Head of Employment, Singapore

David Smail heads the firm’s Singapore Employment practice. He works with multinational employers to solve complex HR and employee relations issues, as well as managing their overall employment legal risk. His practice spans the entire employment life cycle from hiring to firing (and beyond).

Having practised in Asia for more than a decade, David has a strong understanding of the regional issues around the Asia Pacific region with a focus on South and Southeast Asia. He helps clients achieve outcomes that are not only compliant with local laws but also take into account local nuances and cultural norms.

His non-contentious practice covers a broad range of issues including senior executive and C-suite terminations, employment contract and policy reviews, regional restructurings and redundancy exercises, global mobility, industrial relations, corporate transactional support and workforce harmonisations.

David is also an experienced litigator. He has supported clients on a variety of high-profile and sensitive employment disputes on issues covering termination, discrimination and harassment, bonuses and incentives, wage and benefit practices, restrictive covenants, fraud, bribery and corruption, and breach of confidentiality. He has represented clients across a variety of disputes forums.

David prioritises bringing a practical perspective to the table. He helps clients achieve solutions-focused outcomes which take into account individual stakeholders, values and wider reputational issues.

David works with clients across a broad range of sectors including retail, consumer goods, hospitality and leisure, financial services, insurance, life sciences, real estate and technology.

Areas of FocusEmployment
Professional QualificationsSolicitor of the High Court of Hong KongSolicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales


  • Advising a leading financial data analysis provider on a restructuring exercise across multiple jurisdictions throughout Asia, UK, US, Eastern Europe and South America.
  • Advising a leading medical technology company on the employment law and HR aspects of the sale of a core business worth USD2.2 billion and involving the transfer of employees in over 30 countries. Coordinated the response for 9 jurisdictions in APAC.
  • Advising a leading financial markets and commodities bank on the employment law and HR aspects of the restructuring of its investment bank arm.
  • Advising an international cosmetics company on the restructuring of its Asia operations across Singapore, Hong Kong and the PRC.
  • Advising a leading US telehealth services provider on a sensitive redundancy exercise and closure of operations in Singapore and Hong Kong.
  • Advising various multinational corporations on their COVID-19 management strategies including furlough and other cost-cutting measures, return to work and hybrid work policies and workplace vaccination requirements.
  • Advising various multinational corporations on the employment aspects of their expansion in Singapore and Southeast Asia including business registration, entity setup, PEO issues, immigration and employment structures.
  • Acting for a global UK-headquartered bank on successfully defending a wrongful dismissal claim brought by a former senior employee in the Singapore Employment Claims Tribunal.
  • Advising a leading aviation company on an investigation and dismissal of two senior executives in Singapore involving highly sensitive allegations in Singapore, France and Indonesia.
  • Advising a leading global home appliance manufacturer on an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by a senior employee and termination of employment.
  • University of Edinburgh, LL.B. (Hons), 2009

Pro Bono

David is a pro bono advocate and provides support to a variety of NGOs/non-profits. He has particular experience of defending the rights of migrant domestic workers.

Memberships And Affiliations

  • Registered foreign lawyer in Singapore