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Legal market overview
With the nationalisation of Venezuela's key industries, it is President Hugo Chávez's government that drives the country's economy. Consequently, and unaided by strict currency controls, Venezuela's economic environment and foreign investment levels remain challenged. Furthermore, Chávez is seeking re-election in October 2012.
With transactional work stagnant, the government's expropriations and excessive regulation have generated instructions for certain practice areas. Litigation, labour and tax teams are busy, as well as those negotiating new contracts with the government. Public law departments are also critical when guiding companies on Venezuela's public procurement regime.
The Fair Costs And Prices Act (the Act) came to life in April 2012, establishing a maximum sales price for producers and importers, and a maximum retail price on several products. The Act will reduce companies' profit margins to low levels, but has generated work for lawyers, with firms assisting in registration and filing obligations. Fresh labour legislation, in force since May 2012, will make conducting business in Venezuela even harder, but will furnish the country's employment lawyers with additional mandates.
Recent legal market news included InterJuris Abogados entering into an association with DLA Piper and becoming DLA InterJuris Abogados. And at the start of 2012, Despacho de Abogados Miembros de Norton Rose, S.C. was created when global practice Norton Rose LLP and Canadian firm Macleod Dixon LLP joined forces.
Spinoffs, particularly in the tax field, have occurred. Palacios, Torres, Crespo & Korody was founded by Leonardo Palacios Márquez, a former partner of Torres, Plaz & Araujo and contentious tax expert; and tax boutique Vallenilla, Escalante & Asociados spun off from Tinoco, Travieso, Planchart & Núñez. Additionally, Araquereyna welcomed Carolina Cano as partner to its tax department, after more than 11 years at Hoet Pelaez Castillo & Duque, as well as absorbing labour boutique Aguirre & Moschiano.