Legal Market Overview
A key trend across the Bolivian political landscape is the speculation surrounding the outcome of the general election scheduled for October 2019, following President Evo Morales’ three terms in government.
Economic activity in Bolivia has seen a downturn, which was somewhat ameliorated by international companies seeking to establish operations in the country; foreign investment – notably from China, but more recently from other jurisdictions – has also seen a significant increase. Corporate work was especially popular, with M&A and restructuring prominent areas of instruction for firms.
Arbitration remains a key growth area, although litigation continues to thrive. On the labour side, regulations continue to remain relatively employee-friendly, and in the energy sector, oil, gas, mining, wind and solar power projects are prominent in firms’ workloads. While Chinese investment in these areas continues, there is a developing interest in establishing trading relationships with Argentina and Brazil in order to sustain gas exports.
On the IP side, infringement actions have made up a significant amount of work for firms, although trade mark registrations, renewals, patent matters, administrative opposition actions and copyright issues continue to feature frequently in firms’ workloads.
In the tax space, firms are assisting clients with a range of litigious matters, as well as advising on the tax aspects of transactions from a range of sectors and defending clients against tax assessments handed down by the national tax authority, the Servicio de Impuestos Nacionales (SIN). Transfer pricing work is increasing.
Well-established law firms in the Bolivian market include full-service firms Guevara & Gutiérrez S.C, Moreno Baldivieso Estudio De Abogados, Indacochea & Asociados, C.R. & F. Rojas – Abogados and regional firm FERRERE. In 2018, the main change in the legal market was the high-profile merger of Bufete Aguirre Soc. Civ. and Quintanilla, Soria & Nishizawa Soc. Civ. to create Bufete Aguirre, Quintanilla, Soria & Nishizawa Sociedad Civil – (BAQSN), following which Meliora IP – initially formed by the merger of the two former firms’ IP practices – was merged into the combined firm. Notable boutique firms include Carrasco, Forgues, Mercado & Aleman in labour and employment, Estudio Jurídico Orpan in intellectual property, and Benítez Rivas, Pérez & Asociados in tax.