The Legal 500

Guatemala

Share this page

Editorial

Legal market overview

Despite Guatemala remaining the largest economy in Central America and one that has been pointedly open to foreign investment, the country still lags behind other Central American jurisdictions, such as Costa Rica, El Salvador and Panama, in terms of attracting inbound finance. The socio-political environment deters investors, and this is particularly affecting areas such as mining, hydroelectricity and agribusiness, where the country should enjoy a competitive advantage. Nevertheless, the economy has done relatively well under President Otto Pérez, with GDP expected to grow at 3.6% in 2014, and he continues to actively promote Guatemala as an investment destination.

In the M&A sector, Guatemala continues to serve as a first stop for the region, with companies entering joint ventures with a view towards acquisition of control or gaining substantial shares in local companies. A large volume of transactions originate in the US, particularly mid-sized US companies expanding into Central America, secondly come European businesses, and thirdly, so-called multi-Latinas: there is a growing trend of Latin American corporations expanding in and beyond the entire region, acquiring companies locally. The increased presence of (predominantly) Canadian and European mining companies is notable, and there is also substantial activity coming from neighbouring Mexico, to the north, with companies eyeing the entire Central American region and using Guatemala as a point of first landing. Above and beyond this transactional activity and day-to-day corporate matters, corporate restructuring has kept many law firms busy, particularly given the tax reforms of early 2012.

The banking and finance market has remained largely stable with firms seeing, at best, a slight increase in the volume of work. After a considerable consolidation in the sector over the last decade, with over 30 banks reduced to eighteen, recent years have seen a number of local banks acquired by key foreign players, such as Bancolombia’s acquisition of a 40% interest in Guatemalan Banco Agromercantil in 2013. Firms also report more activity from financial institutions in second-tier financings. Project finance is heavily concentrated in infrastructure and renewable energy.

An emerging economy brings with it issues related to counterfeiting, and in the IP sector, anti-counterfeit efforts present one of the biggest challenges. The bulk of the work in intellectual property matters relates to trade marks, including registrations for domestic as well as international clients, portfolio management and litigation. Guatemala remains one of the countries operating a ‘first to file’ rather than a ‘first to use’ system. Only a handful of firms focus on patent matters and while such work remains restricted to the registration of patents, the market has boomed since the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) came into force in 2006.

In Guatemala’s still relatively compact legal market, lawyers generally continue to cover multiple practice areas; and at the firm level, a considerable volume of work is constituted by domestic firms acting as local counsel for larger international players. The more traditional and longstanding domestic firms, such as Mayora & Mayora, S.C., Carrillo y Asociados, Arenales & Skinner-Klée and IP boutique Viteri & Viteri vie with established regional firms Arias & Muñoz, Consortium – Centro América Abogados, Aguilar Castillo Love and Lexincorp, as well as regional newcomers Pacheco Coto and García & Bodán. More specialised firms, such as dispute resolution-focused Comte & Font – Legalsa, have also successfully managed to make their mark on the legal landscape and smaller new firms, such as 4abogados, are gaining visibility.

Press releases

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to

Legal Developments worldwide

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • The Constitutional Court abolished the Article 16/5 of the Decree Law numbered 556

    The Constitutional Court abolished the Article 16/5 of the Decree Law numbered 556.
  • Assignment of Trademarks and Licensing of Trademarks in Turkey

    I. Introduction
  • Austria: Amendments to Chemicals Act and Biocidal Products Act

    On March 5 2015 Austria's agriculture, forestry, environment and water economics minister presented a draft law to amend the Chemicals Act and the Biocidal Products Act. The proposed amendments are the last steps towards the final standardisation of the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures in accordance with EU Regulation 1272/2008 (the 'CPL Regulation'). The amendments simplify the term 'toxin' and shift the existing toxin purchase permit system to a simplified system of toxin purchase certificates. Read more...
  • Poland: Traders' Obligations under the New Consumers Protection Act

    The new consumers protection act (" Act ") which came into force on 25 December 2014 changed the obligations that traders (entrepreneurs) have with regard to the execution of sales contracts with consumers (relating to both goods and services) and warranty rules relating to the provided goods. read more...
  • Tax Legislation Overhaul Proposed in the Republic of Srpska

    Significant changes to the tax regulations in the Republic of Srpska (“RS”) are expected in the coming months. On March 6, the National Assembly of RS passed amendments to the Law on Fiscal Cash Registries. In addition, Parliament approved the Government’s proposals on amendments to several important tax laws, including corporate income tax, personal income tax, social security contributions and property tax. Proposed changes to the laws governing accounting and financial audits have also been approved. These changes are intended to clarify and strengthen existing tax rules, widen the tax base and introduce more discipline in the payment of tax, but also to reduce the tax burden for businesses in order to stimulate economic growth.
  • Careless limit values threaten the Mining Industry

    By lawyer/partner Pia Pehrson and associates Pelle Stubelius and Ludvig Gustafson, Foyen Advokatfirma
  • Wage moderation - The Act providing the new remuneration margin has been published

    On Thursday 30 April 2015, the Act establishing the maximum margin for the evolution of remuneration costs for 2015 and 2016 was published in the Belgian Official Gazette and entered into force.
  • Installment Sales

    The Regulation About Installment Sales ( "The Regulation" ) entered into force by being published in the Official Gazette on 14 th  January 2015. Although the title is 'installment sales'; the main subject of the Regulation is financial leasing agreements. It is important to be careful not to confuse the installment sales with the prepaid sales. In prepaid sales the buyer have the possession of the sold movable property after completing the payment. However in installment sales the buyer gets the property immediately and then makes the payment. Moreover the sales made by credit cards are not the subject of this Regulation.
  • Protection of Creditors and Employees and Personal Liabilities of Shareholders in Mergers

    Synergies and increase in the assets of the merging companies are aimed at mergers. However, a merger may at the same time result in the increase of the liabilities of the merging companies. Further, in some cases the financial standing of the absorbed company in a merger may not even show positive figures thus such a merger may present a potential risk on the creditors of especially the surviving company. Due to the fact that creditors of the merging entities do not have a veto right against a merger, there arises the need for a specific protection tool for the creditors. A merger may also negatively affect the employees of the merging entities, again especially the ones of the absorbed company. On the other hand, "over-protection" may defeat the purpose of the merger concept so a fairly balanced protection mechanics is essential. This article focuses on the means of protection of creditors and employees, and personal liabilities of shareholders in mergers, as regulated by the Turkish Commercial Code ("TCC").
  • The Gas Pipelines, the Cold War and the Black Sea Region

    Since the end of the Cold War, the Black Sea region has gained even greater political and economic importance and has become the subject of a dominance battle between world powers including the United States of America, Russia and the most influential member states of the European Union. While these world powers battle for dominance, local players such as Turkey and Ukraine have also gained importance and have used their geopolitical position to promote themselves as key international policy players.

Press Releases worldwide

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to