Sonny Payne

Partner

Postgraduate Certificate in Laws, City University of Hong Kong, 2008
Master of Laws with Merit, School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London, 1999
Bachelor of Engineering with Honours, Civil Engineering, University of Nottingham, 1990

Solicitor, Hong Kong, 2010

Affiliations and memberships

Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
Chartered Engineer, Engineering Council (UK)
Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (UK)
Member of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers

Languages

Mandarin

Litigation

Sonny Payne has represented parties in the Hong Kong courts in disputes arising out of a wide range of commercial matters, including:

  • financial instruments, such as convertible notes
  • joint venture and shareholder agreements
  • insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings
  • interim injunctions
  • long-term distributorship agreements
  • building and engineering projects

Since establishing GPS McQuhae LLP in November 2017, Sonny has advised and acted for:

  • Hong Kong listed energy company on multiple and complex litigation proceedings arising out of disputes over the ownership and terms of US$460 million of convertible notes
  • European shareholders in unfair prejudice petitions
  • Creditors in contested winding-up proceedings
  • Italian construction company in disputes with a sub-contractor arising out of foundation works for a power station in Hong Kong

Prior to establishing GPS McQuhae LLP in November 2017, Sonny was a special counsel at Baker Botts (2015 to 2017) and associate at Jones Day / K&L Gates (2010 to 2015).  During that time, he represented clients on the following matters:

  • Incorporated owners of a luxury residential building in High Court proceedings in Hong Kong against an architect
  • Big-four accountancy firm in its capacity as receivers of a Hong Kong listed company (HCMP 395/2015 - In the matter of Birmingham International Holdings Limited)
  • HK$2 billion creditor in a heavily litigated winding up proceeding in Hong Kong against a Hong Kong listed company (HCCW 177/2011 - In the matter of The Grande Holdings Limited)
  • Minority shareholder in a winding-up petition on just and equitable grounds brought in the Cayman courts against a Hong Kong listed company (FSD 14/2015 - In the matter of Boshiwa International Holding Limited)
  • Owner of property in an industrial building in a High Court action against the incorporated owners (HCCT 60/2009 - Wing Ming v The Incorp. Owners of Wing Ming Industrial Centre)
  • Various owners of properties within old multi-story buildings in appeals before the Appeal Tribunal (Buildings) against demolition orders made by the Building Authority of Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong listed media company in winding up proceeding against it (HCCW 120/2015 - In the matter of Sing Pao Media Enterprises Limited)
  • Former directors of a property management company in claims against them for breach of fiduciary duties (HCA 744/2013 - Vigers Hong Kong Limited v Michael Binney and others)
  • Korean chaebol in an appeal to the Court of Final Appeal involving the interpretation of a contract associated with a large reclamation project (Sinoearn International Limited v Hyundai CCECC Joint Venture FACV 22/2012)
  • Main contractor in two cases in the High Court involving disputes with piling subcontractors (Chun Wo Foundation Limited v Sam Woo Holdings Limited HCA 654/2011 & Sam Woo Bored Pile Foundation Limited v Chun Wo Foundation Limited HCCT 49/2008)
  • a case in which sovereign immunity was invoked to resist enforcement of an international arbitration award against a state (FG Hemisphere v Democratic Republic of Congo & Ors HCMP 928/2008)
  • Shareholder actions and statutory derivative actions (Tsang Wai Lun Wayland v Chu King Fai & 11 other directors HCA 300/2009 & Tsang Wai Lun Wayland v Grand Field Group Holdings Ltd HCMP 1059/2008);
  • cases against incorporated owners of multi-storey buildings involving maintenance responsibilities and injunctions to remove unauthorized building works (Cogi v Incorp. Owners of Malahon Apartments HCA 816/2004; Wing Ming v The Incorp. Owners of Wing Ming Industrial Centre HCCT 60/2009)
  • trademark infringement / passing off dispute (Opus Crystal Studio Ltd v Aupu Group Holding Co. Ltd HCA 782/2007)

Arbitration

Sonny Payne has represented parties in arbitration proceedings in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and the Middle East on disputes arising out of a variety of projects and agreements, including:

  • engineering projects
  • new building projects, included casinos and luxury private developments
  • building refurbishment projects
  • sour gas pipeline projects (both on-shore and off-shore)
  • solar power projects
  • defective electronic equipment
  • long-term distributorship agreements
  • convertible notes
  • share sale and purchase agreements

Sonny is, in fact, well-placed to represent parties on disputes involving complex engineering or technical issues by virtue of being dual qualified as a chartered civil engineer and, prior to becoming a lawyer, having spent 15 years working as a professional consulting engineer on large scale engineering and infrastructure projects.

Since establishing GPS McQuhae LLP in November 2017, Sonny has advised and acted for:

  • A Hong Kong listed construction company in arbitration proceedings in Hong Kong against a sub-contractor involving HK$700 million (approx.) of claims arising out of works associated with the Hong Kong to Guangzhou Express Rail Link project. The claims were primarily concerned with unforeseen ground conditions, variations, delay and disruption, as well as alleged unlawful termination of the sub-contract and subsequent claims of conversion in relation to the sub-contractor’s constructional plant.
  • A Macau construction company in arbitration proceedings in Hong Kong against a nominated sub-contractor arising out of a HK$12 billion casino project. The claims were concerned with the installation of the mechanical and electrical services within the casino and involved issues of liability as and between the various sub-contractors for approximately HK$70 million of damage and abortive works incurred during the fitting-out works.
  • A Property Developer in a HK$80 million dispute over a luxury property development in Hong Kong.
  • A Hong Kong sub-contractor on claims against an incorporated owner arising out of a HK$50M building refurbishment contract.  

Prior to establishing GPS McQuhae LLP in November 2017, Sonny was a special counsel at Baker Botts (2015 to 2017) and associate at Jones Day / K&L Gates (2010 to 2015).  During that time, he represented clients on the following matters:

  • Hong Kong contractor on claims arising out of design issues associated with a HK$8 billion contract for viaducts
  • Qatari natural gas company in a US$2.5 billion dispute arising out of offshore sour gas pipelines. The claims primarily involved liability in respect of two catastrophic failures in the pipelines and the issue of whether the pipelines were fit for purpose as a result of defective welds
  • Korean chaebol in a successful appeal to the Court of Final Appeal involving the interpretation of a contract associated with dredging works for a new container port
  • Mainland Chinese contractor in Singapore arbitration under ICC Rules against a Vietnamese-Japanese joint venture cement production company to recover claims and damages arising out of the construction of a cement processing plant in Vietnam
  • Hong Kong listed energy company with mining assets in the PRC in arbitration proceedings in Hong Kong (under the UNCITRAL Rules) against a large PRC steel-making company in respect of a HK$300 million claim arising out of a convertible notes sale and purchase agreement
  • Korean construction company in claims against a sub-contractor arising out of the termination of a contract for construction of a US$550 million petrochemical plant in the Philippine
  • US listed metals company in arbitration proceedings in Hong Kong (under the ICC Rules) against a Chinese state-owned aluminium company in respect of claims of RMB290 million arising out of an investment in an aluminium slab making facility in China and a long-term supply contract for aluminium slab
  • Texas-based technology company in arbitration proceedings in Hong Kong (under the HKIAC Rules) against a Chinese company in respect of claims arising out of the supply of defective LED panels and intellectual property rights in the LED panels
  • Korean chaebol in arbitration proceedings in Hong Kong defending claims from a property developer for alleged defects in a new property development
  • Multinational US oil and gas company in claims against a Chinese state-owned oil company arising out of a joint investment to develop sour gas fields in Sichuan Province, PRC
  • Hong Kong distributor of cosmetics in arbitration proceedings in Singapore (under the SIAC Rules) and in Japan (under the UNCITRAL Rules) against a Japanese company concerning the termination of a 30-year Asia-wide distributorship agreement
  • Australian mining company in proceedings in the High Court to enforce an Australian arbitration award in Hong Kong
Notable representations

Sonny is a commercial disputes lawyer with a focus on litigation in the Hong Kong courts and international arbitration. In addition, and often prior to or in parallel with litigation or arbitration, he advises and guides clients through alternative forms of dispute resolution, including negotiation and mediation which he teaches as a part-time university lecturer.

Chambers Asia