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Legal market overview
With a GDP reaching 7.3% in 2014, compared to an average of 1.2% for the rest of Latin American and the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic has been one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America during the past decade. From a predominantly agricultural-based economy, the Dominican Republic’s tourism and service sectors, as well as its mining industry, are increasingly becoming the driving force behind its thriving economic power. The mining sector grew by a heady 20.3% over the last year, while tourism registered an 11.3% increase. In addition, foreign direct investment rose 14.3% over the same period. Certainly there are a number of factors in the Republic’s favour: not only is it the second largest economy in the Caribbean but it has established a free trade agreement with the US (in addition to its membership of DR-CAFTA, the Central American FTA) and many regard its geographical location as favourable to an increasing role as an entrepôt or distribution hub for the region, a possibility furthered by the expansion of the Panama Canal. Collectively, all these factors have increased the jurisdiction’s attractiveness to foreign investors; nor has it hurt that, according to the World Bank’s survey, the state continues to improve its position as a business-friendly destination; it currently sits 11th of 32 nations in the combined Latin American and Caribbean region, behind Costa Rica.
The Dominican legal market remains dominated by local full-service law firms including Headrick Rizik Alvarez & Fernández, Pellerano & Herrera, Castillo y Castillo, Russin, Vecchi & Heredia Bonetti SA, OMG and Jiménez Cruz Peña. However, with the country’s participation in the DR-CAFTA trade bloc, Central American law firms are taking more interest in the market (CENTRAL LAW Dominican Republic is part of the isthmus’ Central Law alliance, for example), and in Squire Patton Boggs, the market also has an international heavyweight.
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Following completion of the acquisition of the Lake Region Medical groupe by Greatbatch, Inc. and the renaming of Lake Region Medical into INTEGER, Greatbatch contributed in multiple capital increases own shares to Swiss-based P Medical Holding AG/INTEGER (Switzerland) GmbH, which were swapped against shares in the Irish-based Lake Region Medical Holdings Limited. The transaction was completed by a down-stream merger of P Medical Holding AG into its subsidiary INTEGER (Switzerland) GmbH.
SyCipLaw acted as Philippine counsel for the dealers, Citigroup Global Markets Limited and Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in a back-to-back tender offer of perpetual securities and issuance of new perpetual securities.
The Ministry of Finance, General Administration of Customs and State Administration of Taxation of China jointly issued a circular (“Joint Circular ”) relating to the taxation policy on the cross-border e-commerce retailing imports, with effect as from April 8, 2016.
On February 12, 2016, the recently constituted Philippine Competition Commission (“PCC”), which was created under the Philippine Competition Act (Republic Act 10667 or the “PCA”), issued Memorandum Circular No. 16-001, Series of 2016 (the “Transitory Rules”), which provides for the transitory rules and guidelines relating to mergers and acquisitions that were, or are to be, executed or otherwise implemented after the effectivity of the PCA on August 8, 2015 but before the effectivity of its implementing rules and regulations (the “PCA IRR”). Given the special nature of transactions effected through the Philippine Stock Exchange, the Transitory Rules will not cover such transactions and will be covered by a separate issuance by the PCC.
SyCipLaw acted as Philippine counsel to a syndicate of Philippine banks (composed of BDO Unibank, Inc., Bank of the Philippine Islands, Development Bank of the Philippines, Land Bank of the Philippines, Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company and Philippine National Bank) and Asian Development Bank for the financing of the rehabilitation and development of the Mactan Cebu International Airport that was awarded by the DOTC and the MCIAA under the private-public partnership program of the government to the consortium between Megawide Construction Corporation and GMR Infrastructure. The financing is composed of (1) Php20 Billion (approx. US$446,773,200) commitment of the Philippines syndicate banks and (2) US$75 Million commitment of ADB.
On February 16, 2016, the recently constituted Philippine Competition Commission (“PCC”), which was created under the Philippine Competition Act (Republic Act 10667 or the “PCA”), issued Memorandum Circular No. 16-002, Series of 2016 (the “PSE Transitory Rules”), which provides for the transitory rules and guidelines relating to mergers and acquisitions that were, or are to be, executed or otherwise implemented through the Philippine Stock Exchange (“PSE”) and after the effectivity of the PCA on August 8, 2015 but before the effectivity of its implementing rules and regulations (the “PCA IRR”).
SyCipLaw contributed the Philippine Chapter of the 2016: Insurance Regulation in Asia Pacific – Ten things to know about 20 countries published by Norton Rose. The 2016 edition of the summary guide provides an overview and practical checklist of ten common regulatory issues for insurance companies. The Philippine chapter was contributed by SyCipLaw partner Hiyasmin H. Lapitan.
In the recent case of Pyrrho Investments Limited and another v MWB Property Limited and others  EWHC 256 (Ch), the High Court of England and Wales approved the use of predictive coding software in electronic discovery.
SyCipLaw Partners Rose Marie M. King-Dominguez and Franco Aristotle G. Larcina, with support from Senior Associate Ruben P. Acebedo II, participated in the World Bank Group’s Enabling the Business of Agriculture 2016: Comparing regulatory good practices. The report examines regulations that impact private enterprise in the agriculture and agribusiness sectors. The report aims to promote smart regulations that ensure safety and quality control, as well as efficient regulatory processes, that support thriving agribusinesses.
Hospitality and food service industry company Mövenpick invests in Chinese wine wholesaler Cheers by acquiring a strategic stake. Cheers has 30 branch offices in the greater Beijing area and currently generates annual revenues of roughly three million Swiss francs. Mövenpick is a Swiss group of companies with global presence. Its core competency lies in the hospitality business, with a focus on gastronomy, hotels, wine and premium branded products.
Pitmans has advised Premier Marinas Limited on its acquisition of Noss Marina, which is just outside Dartmouth, from the Administrators Duff & Phelps.
Following last year’s autumn statement, HMRC has now published draft legislation which introduces the proposed new apprenticeship levy. The levy will have effect from 6 April 2017.
The Department of Justice has issued a practice direction in connection with the new insolvency express trials pilot.
Many businesses will be liable for increased business rates following last year’s Supreme Court ruling in Woolway (Valuation Officer) v Mazars LLP.
Pitmans LLP has acted on behalf of its longstanding client, Westcoast (Holdings) Limited on its acquisition of Art Systems Holdings Limited.
The management team were backed by Maven Capital Partners with PNC providing debt facilities.
Pitmans today announced that Oliver Kelly (corporate) and Matt Heyworth (private client) will become partners as of 1 May 2016.
SOUTHAMPTON -- LV=, represented by Pitmans LLP, have won a case involving a fraudulent household insurance claim worth almost £50,000.
VEGAS LEX Manager of Life sciences projects Maria Borzova has discussed recent legislative initiatives relating to the compulsory licensing of medicines in her presentation at the first meeting of Pharm Salon.
In cases involving M&A transactions, a detailed evaluation of the economic risks and opportunities as well as the associated legal issues is indispensable.