Latin America: International firms > International arbitration > Local practitioners of note (by country):
Leading local practitioners
Andrés Jana -
Bofill Mir & Alvarez Jana Abogados
Guido Tawil -
M & M Bomchil
Dr Claus von Wobeser -
Von Wobeser y Sierra, SC
Eduardo Zuleta -
- Andrés Jana -
Although the previous section looked at international arbitration from an ‘extra-regional’ perspective, readers should note that there are some excellent local firms and practitioners that take on this work. The following lists some of the leading firms and lawyers in the region.
Currently the president of the Latin American Arbitration Association (ALARB), and a former co-chair of the International Bar Association (IBA)’s arbitration committee, M & M Bomchil’s Guido Tawil has built a huge reputation over the last decade, primarily working as local counsel against Argentina in the glut of cases that arose out of the 2002 crisis and the pesificación process. Since then he has broadened his engagement in the sector and is today recognised as one of the continent’s foremost practitioners: ‘a serious player’, who can ‘run arbitrations on his own with international counsel’. He and his profoundly capable team have a notable caseload in the energy sector (a hydroelectric royalties case against the province of Neuquén; unit dispatch and energy price cases against the federal government; as well as cross-border contractual cases concerning gas exports), as well as ICC and ICDR cases. On the investor sovereign side, he is presently sitting as arbitrator in ICSID cases brought by Opic Karimun, Highbury International and Universal Compression against Venezuela, as well as Pac Rim Cayman LLC vs El Salvador. Diego Gosis, who joined Miami-based Smith International Legal Consultants. P.A. in 2011, ‘was at the heart of many of the Argentine matters for over a decade’. Regarded as ‘one of the premier lawyers in the defence of sovereigns in investment arbitration’, and ‘the brains behind Argentina’s stunning victory against British Gas in the US’, he is now primarily engaged in commercial cases. Young Bolivian lawyer José Criales ‘has an encyclopedic knowledge of both Bolivian and international law’. He is reported as ‘very dynamic, well prepared and experienced in working with largest international firms on sophisticated matters’. Brazil is currently experiencing a phenomenal growth in commercial arbitration, both domestic and international. While the market has figures such as José Emilio Pinto, ‘the godfather of Brazilian arbitration’, ‘prestigious’ senior figure LO Baptista, and ‘doyen’ Arnoldo Wald, demand is driving the emergence of an entire new generation of specialists. Barbosa, Müssnich & Aragão is ‘a very effective firm in arbitration’: name partner and ‘corporate giant’ Francisco Müssnich leads his firm’s dispute resolution department and has a growing engagement in complex commercial arbitration. ‘Thoroughly versed in arbitration’, senior associate André de Albuquerque Cavalcanti Abbud is also noted. At Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr. e Quiroga Advogados, ‘the whole group is fantastic; it has brilliant practitioners both on the corporate and the international arbitration side’. ‘A well-known young figure in the arbitration field’, Eduardo Goncalves is highly spoken of by many, ‘he immediately comes to my mind’, and is generally regarded as a star in the making. ‘A huge presence’ Pinheiro Neto Advogados’ Gilberto Giusti, has ‘incomparable experience’. His recent caseload includes a number of infrastructure project-related arbitrations, particularly at the arbitration and mediation centre of the Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce, and also at smaller, specialised chambers such as that of Sao Paulo Engineering Institute (CMA-IE), as well as a number of big-ticket cases at the ICC. He is a board member of the American Arbitration Association (AAA); as well as a member of the Latin American group of the ICC, and of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA). His fellow partner, litigator Júlio César Bueno is increasingly involved in arbitral practice. TozziniFreire Advogados’ ‘growing practice’ involves a disputes team nearly 70 strong. Departmental head Fernando Eduardo Serec divides his practice between litigation and primarily domestic arbitration, but also has some international engagement. He has recently led on a number of ICC cases in the real estate sector and also has experience under the rules of the ICDR, and LCA, as well as a host of local Brazilian chambers. He is a member of the Institute for Transnational Arbitration. Veirano e Advogados Associados’ 30-strong practice group stands out since it not only can handle complex international cases in English, but is accustomed to doing so. Bilingual departmental head Pedro Soares Maciel is ‘impressive and assured’ and has a huge breadth of experience across the commercial sector, particularly in ICC and ICDR cases. Also mentioned with frequency is the boutique firm that spun off from leading dispute resolution firm Sergio Bermudes Advogados some five years ago: Ferro, Castro Neves, Daltro & Gomide Advogados’ Marcelo Ferro is regarded as ‘very sophisticated in both litigation and arbitration’, and with offices in Rio and Sao Paulo, the firm is ‘gaining profile fast’. Chile is one of the nations that has sought to present itself as the seat of a potential regional arbitral hub. Certainly the nation’s juridical security rates are second to none in the region and in Francisco Orrego Vicuña, the country can boast one of the practice area’s senior figures; (although a member of the tribunal hearing OI European vs Venezuela, he is largely engaged in academic activity). ‘Undoubtedly one of Chile’s leading international arbitration figures today’, Andrés Jana is a former counsel to the Chilean finance and economics ministries, and has also acted as legal advisor to the Chilean government on the negotiation of several free trade agreements. A name partner of Bofill Mir & Alvarez Jana Abogados, he was appointed as a member of the ICSID panel of arbitrators last year. Costa Rican national Dyalá Jiménez formerly practiced alongside Jana before boldly establishing her own Santiago-based international arbitration consultancy DJ Arbitraje in 2011. She has acted as sole arbitrator and president of the tribunal in ICC cases; and as counsel, represented clients in ICC and ICDR cases, as well as representing a Chilean investor in an ICSID case against Bolivia. ‘She’s very good’ comment peers, ‘a true specialist’. Having spent four years as a senior associate at the Paris and Madrid offices of leading firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, Claro y Cia’s Felipe Ossa is frequently mentioned as ‘one-to-watch’ and ‘a likely leader of the next generation’. He has acted as counsel in arbitrations under the aegis of ICC, ICSID, ICDR and UNCITRAL, as well as the Santiago Chamber of Commerce (CAM); and as arbitrator at both the ICC and CAM. He has also acted as an expert on issues of Chilean law in proceedings before international arbitral tribunals and English and North American courts. Philippi, Yrarrázaval, Pulido & Brunner’s Ricardo Riesco is best known for his work in the competition and antitrust sector, but has been writing on international commercial arbitration for approaching a decade. Identified as ‘a figure of the future’, he is an arbitrator of the arbitration & mediation centre of the Santiago Chamber of Commerce, and was previously a member of the international arbitration group at Clifford Chance’s New York office. While Colombia has experienced a huge growth in arbitral activity, there is one figure that is regarded as ‘head and shoulders above’ the rest of the market. Gómez-Pinzón Zuleta’s Eduardo Zuleta is ‘increasingly moving beyond Colombia’s frontiers’, according to peers who regard him as both ‘very visible’ and very capable: ‘he’s our “go-to” figure for work under ICC regulations due to his experience in international arbitration’, noted one client. He and his team are currently acting as lead counsel in ICC cases seated in London and Santiago as well as handling ICDR work. One of the ten ICSID panel members appointed by the chairman of ICSID’s administrative council, he is presently sitting as president of the tribunal in Iberdorla vs Guatemala; and as arbitrator in Impregilo vs Argentina, and in RRL & Gremcitel, and Convial Callao & CCI, vs Peru, among other cases. In Ecuador, Paz Horowitz Robalino Garcés, Abogados’ Javier Robalino is ‘a real expert with specialised knowledge of both the region and international arbitration’, according to international peers. With experience co-counselling in investor-state cases at ICSID, he is probably both the most experienced and highest profile arbitration practitioner in the country. Robalino was formerly at Pérez Bustamante & Ponce, where head of the contentious practice, Rodrigo Jijón is regarded as a ‘top of the market’ option. Proximity to the US and the size and depth of its economy, not to mention the slowness of the court system, have all combined to popularise arbitration in Mexico and it is currently the Latin American state with the greatest volume of arbitral activity. Unsurprisingly, it has several of the region’s most prominent figures in the sector. Co-head of the dispute resolution practice at Von Wobeser y Sierra, SC, name partner Claus von Wobeser is probably the most high-profile arbitration specialist in Mexico. He undertakes both commercial and investor-state cases and his recent caseload includes ICC cases in the energy and construction sectors as well as proceedings seeking to nullify awards. A vice chairman of the ICC International Court of Arbitration and a member of the ICSID panel, he is currently sitting in TECO vs Guatemala, CIT Group vs Argentina, and Aguaytia Energy vs Peru, among other cases. The firm is increasingly active in Central America and in a recent coup, hired Victor Ruiz, a former deputy counsel in the ICC’s Latin American group. Chairman of the mediation and arbitration commission of the National Chamber of Commerce of Mexico City (CANACO), the ’very-well established’ José María Abascal is a respected name in Mexican arbitral circles and has acted as counsel or arbitrator under ICC, ICDR, and UNCITRAL rules, among others. ‘Very reliable in all respects’ Enrique Gonzalez Calvillo is a hugely respected figure across a range of legal sectors. He has acted as counsel or arbitrator, principally in commercial disputes, at the ICC, ICDR and CAMACO, and is a founding partner and vice president of the Mexican Mediation Institute (Instituto Mexicano de la Mediacion). He sat as arbitrator in the Grupo Modelo vs Anheuser-Busch case, concerning issues deriving from the latter’s merger with Ambev in 2010. Young lawyer Eugenia González, a junior partner at Goodrich, Riquelme y Asociados, is also beginning to develop a name in international arbitration, particularly in regard to international commercial contracts. Arbitration has long been a key manner in which to resolve commercial disputes in Peru, indeed, it is frequently mandatory, and the wave of development currently occurring in the country has increased the incidence of international arbitral cases. Like many of those engaged in international arbitration activity Bullard Falla Ezcurra Abogados’s name-partner Alfredo Bullard has a background in competition, antitrust and international trade matters. While his practice to date remains primarily domestic, he has experience of ICC cases, and he and his team have co-counselled with some of the foremost international firms. He also acted as president of the Ministry of Justice’s technical review commission of Peru’s General Arbitration Law, leading to its reform. Both name partners at leading corporate firm Miranda & Amado Abogados have an increasingly salient role in arbitration work and the firm has built a dispute resolution practice that is both accustomed to arbitral practice and equipped to handle complex dispute cases as a single unit. José Daniel Amado ‘impresses’ and both he and Luis Miranda are recommended. Of counsel at corporate powerhouse Muñiz, Ramírez, Perez-Taiman & Olaya Abogados, Carlos Soto is a ‘fine practitioner’ and ‘one to note’. He is presently an arbitrator of the Superior Council of Hirings and Acquisitions of the Peruvian State (CONSUCODE). Venezuela has been a frequent respondent in ICSID cases under the administration of President Hugo Chavez, and Travieso Evans Arria Rengel & Paz has been at the forefront as local co-counsel working with firms such as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, Covington & Burling LLP and Debevoise & Plimpton. It has been involved in many of the recent ICSID cases against the ‘Bolivarian State’, including the $1.3bn Crystallex case, a $12bn Mobil Exxon case (subsequently reduced) and a $1.2bn Owens Illinois case. It is also handling a plethora of other work, from smaller ICSID cases such as the $8m CITIC vs Venezuela, to more significant ICC cases such as the $100m Embratel vs Andesat. Name partner Pedro Rengel is ‘thoroughly recommended’. Despacho de Abogados Miembros de Norton Rose, S.C. has also picked up substantial local counsel work in its energy sector sweet spot, where it is currently advising on a number of hundred-million-dollar plus ICC cases. Practice head Ramón Alvins and Elisabeth Eljuri are recommended – the latter particularly for hydrocarbon-sector disputes.