Legal Market Overview
2021 saw a strong economic rebound for Bolivia after the twin uncertainties of political upheaval and Covid-19 settled somewhat. This upward trend has begun to decelerate but the country’s fortunes look healthy as new governments in both Peru and Chile breed reluctance in international investment there and have cast Bolivia as a somewhat surprising figure of relative stability due to its historically well-established socialist governance. As regards business activity in the country, it has been a mixed picture but highly active. A number of foreign companies did withdraw their operations from the country in the wake of MAS returning to power with the backdrop of Covid, but renewed interest in the country followed and law firms reported the gaps swiftly filled.
A big talking point among firms across the tax and corporate law practices has been the government’s tax on large fortunes, enacted at the turn of 2021. It has been received with a considerable backlash and confusion, which has resulted in busy practices keeping clients abreast of updates and planning strategies to respond to the new obligations. Labour law is another area in which practices have had to keep up with legislative change as job uncertainty as a result of the pandemic was combated by stricter employment laws.
The fortunes of Bolivia’s energy sector is crucial to its economic health and after the pandemic meant low demand for its exports during 2020, demand has dramatically increased in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with wider commodity price increases being further favourable to the country’s wider export market. An agreement made in April 2022 to export natural gas to Argentina has been another positive development.
The legal market has seen little changed in terms of its key players. Moreno Baldivieso Estudio De Abogados‘s standout corporate law offering providing the foundation for it to be a reliable choice for clients virtually across the board. PPO Abogados has hit the ground running and continues to impress with its broad -and expanding- service offering; while the tie up represented by Dentons Guevara & Gutierrez has proved a highly successful local landing for the global firm. Also with a multijurisdictional aspect, Ferrere has successfully re-developed its presence and now offers a presence in Cochabamba and Santa Cruz as well as La Paz. Santa Cruz-headquartered Indacochea & Asociados and Bufete Aguirre, Quintanilla, Soria & Nishizawa Sociedad Civil – (BAQSN) constitute the other key full-service players, with C.R. & F. Rojas – Abogados, Serrate Paz y Asociados and Würth Bedoya Costa Du Rels Abogados also keeping a strong presence across a range of practice areas. A relatively small number of boutique firms also make their presence felt – most notably in the labour, IP and tax markets. There has also been a rare international firm arrival in the market with global insurance firm Kennedy’s announcing an association with domestic firm Lopez de Solar.