Arbitration in Colombia
‘A go-to destination for contentious matters’, Suescún Abogados handles high-end domestic, and international, arbitration. Founding partner Jorge Suescún, who has acted as lead counsel, arbitrator and chairman in over 130 arbitrations, and Felipe Suescún head the five-strong team. The team is acting as local counsel to Reficar in a complex ICC construction arbitration. It also continues to act for two Goldman Sachs subsidiaries in another high-profile, multi-party international ICC arbitration relating to the transportation of coal via a railway network. Jorge Suescún acted as arbitrator in an international commercial arbitration under the rules of the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce and arising from disputes between the minority and majority shareholders of Blau Farmacêutica. The firm is also the Colombian member of the ACLA, an association of disputes firms currently covering the four countries of the Pacific Alliance.
ZULETA Abogados Asociados S.A.S ‘has a peerless reputation’; best known for international and domestic arbitration - particularly relating to infrastructure and energy projects - the firm has also developed an international public law and human rights practice that is both novel and unique in the local market. Highly regarded international arbitrator Eduardo Zuleta (‘a pioneer’) and oil and gas expert Gustavo Suárez are both highly recommended ‘for tough oil and gas and infrastructure disputes, especially if there’s an international component’; in conjunction with Rafael Rincón, they co-lead a 19-strong team which also features Rafael Bernal and Antonio Aljure. Acting as lead counsel, the firm successfully represented a US-based oil and gas company in a New York-based ICC arbitration concerning a share purchase agreement dispute. In other work, the practice continues to act as co-counsel to two US mining companies in complex, international multi-party ICC arbitration involving rights of access to a railway facility in Colombia.
‘Strongly recommended’, Baker McKenzie S.A.S. has a broad sector offering including international arbitration and multi-jurisdictional claims. Recently appointed global practice group chair Claudia Benavides is ‘a strong litigator with a solid reputation who can design effective strategies to advance the interests of her clients’. She heads a 14-strong practice, which has been growing its participation in construction disputes relating to large infrastructure projects, such as the one it is undertaking for a state-owned utility facing a claim from the subcontracted consortium responsible for the construction of an infrastructure project that has suffered delays. Other mandates included representing a major US multinational in international arbitration seated in Bogotá; the dispute concerns a breach of a joint operating agreement. Cristina Mejía and disputes director Juan Guillermo Otero are also noted, but former senior associate Jorge Valencia moved in house as head of litigation at Cenit Transporte y Logística de Hidrocarburos.
Botero Salazar Tobón Abogados
Specialising in dispute resolution and insurance, Botero Salazar Tobón Abogados handles national and international arbitrations across a range of industries, including infrastructure, energy, pharmaceuticals and food. The ten-strong practice continues to represent the subsidiaries of a US mining company in complex, international multi-party arbitration before the ICC with an overall value above $1bn. The team is also advising Alpina in arbitration proceedings initiated by Embotelladora Capri in relation to alleged breach of contract. Name partners Bernardo Salazar and Luís Botero are the key practice contacts.
Full-service powerhouse Brigard Urrutia’s sizeable 21-strong practice acts for local and global companies in national and international arbitration tribunals, particularly disputes involving key sectors such as oil and gas, public services and power infrastructure. ‘A great strategist’, Luis Alfredo Barragán co-heads the practice with Irma Rivera. Both are acting - with the assistance of senior associate Natalia Ángel - in an international arbitration arising from a highly valuable M&A transaction in the Colombian pharmaceutical industry. The trio are also advising a company in domestic arbitration arising from a construction agreement for the development of a new facility.
William Araque, who ‘stands out for his broad knowledge in arbitration’, leads the 16-strong team at Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA), which acts for both private and state parties in national and international arbitration proceedings. Acting in conjunction with David Araque, he recently led the successful advice to IGT Games in arbitration proceedings involving state entity Coljuegos concerning an alleged breach of concession contract by IGT and the use of the "Baloto" brand. In other work, the team continues to represent Reficar in two arbitration procedures against EPC contractors and supervisors. Senior associate Natalia Castellanos is also noted.
Holland & Knight’s well-regarded practice handles local and international investment arbitration. In ‘renowned’ executive partner Enrique Gómez-Pinzón the firm has a ‘star player’ with extensive experience as an arbitrator in ICC, ICSID and CIETAC tribunals; a heavyweight in the market, Gómez-Pinzón is currently acting as arbitrator in three different ongoing ICSID cases. Also, with an ‘outstanding’ reputation, practice head Alberto Zuleta is leading two of the most relevant international arbitration processes in Colombia, both of them under ICC rules; one involves a multi-party dispute between a consortium of coal companies regarding the operation of a Colombian railroad.
Multi-jurisdictional firm Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría fields a 15-strong practice group in Colombia that is active in both national and international arbitration. Department co-head Julio César González is leading the advice to a Portuguese agro-industrial company in an international arbitration under the rules of the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce and concerning the breach of an $11m supply agreement to deliver food to Venezuela. His fellow co-head, Héctor Hernández, is representing the concessionaire of an EPC contract for the construction of 200km of roads in an arbitration regarding interpretation of the concession agreement. Principal associates Juan Mendoza and Juan Sebastián Arias, who joined in 2018 from Jones Day’s Miami office, are also key members of the team.
Posse Herrera Ruiz’s ‘strongly recommended’ 20-strong practice, co-led by Daniel Posse and María Lucía Posada, is particularly noted for its abilities in construction arbitration. The team successfully represented Alianza Fiduciaria in a complex arbitral dispute brought by Manzanillo del Mar Fiduciary Trust involving seven different claims totalling $100m relating to an undeveloped project for which the client was blamed. Posada led the defence of Cerro Matoso in arbitration initiated by a construction company regarding the termination of a maintenance contract prior to its completion. Other 2018 mandates included representing Reficar in an arbitration proceeding against Mantornillos concerning the restitution of an advance payment made for the purchase of items for the refinery; the case was settled out of court on terms beneficial to the client.
Infrastructure boutique Castro Leiva Rendón Abogados primarily handles domestic arbitration proceedings and alternative conflict resolution mechanisms for clients in the construction sector. The practice is currently representing Concesión Autopistas del Nordeste and Concesión Perimetral de Oriente in two alternative dispute resolution proceedings and negotiations with the National Infrastructure Agency (ANI). José Ignacio Leiva heads the six-strong practice. Other clients include Cal y Mayor Asociados, Grupo Metro Bus, Concesion Alto Magdalena and Concesión Pacífico Tres.
DLA Piper Martinez Beltrán’s ‘impressive’ team has experience representing clients in both national and international commercial arbitration. Practice head Camilo Martínez, with the support of Julián Solorza, led the successful representation of Tribeca Asset Management recently, filing a counter claim in the arbitration court against minority stockholders seeking a $40m compensation payment. In other highlights, the firm is currently acting for Best Luck before the arbitration court in a claim lodged against a trust company arising from the execution of a trust agreement for construction projects on the Caribbean coast.
Well-regarded boutique Esguerra Asesores Jurídicos represents clients in national and international arbitrations, particularly those related to concessions and public contracts. The team, led by founding partner Juan Carlos Esguerra is representing Oleoducto Bicentenario de Colombia in an arbitral procedure initiated by Canacol Energy Colombia seeking compensation due to the defendent’s alleged breach of an oil transportation contract. Felipe Piquero (‘an effective and precise lawyer and one of the best advisers that we have had the opportunity to work with’) acted for National Infrastructure Agency (ANI) in the arbitral procedure initiated by OPAIN, regarding the application of a contractual clause that provided for a payment of a percentage of the concessionaire’s income.
Acting both in domestic and international arbitrations, Lloreda Camacho & Co. ‘assimilates the client’s goals and provides excellent recommendations’. A ‘very experienced litigator’, Gustavo Tamayo heads a highly regarded multi-disciplinary team. The practice is working alongside lead counsel Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP in a $2bn international investment arbitration concerning an alleged breach by the Republic of Colombia of the Colombia-Mexico free trade agreement (FTA); the team is representing claimants America Movil (AM) in a case arguing that Colombia’s intended reversion of certain wireless telecom assets operated by AM’s Colombian subsidiary, Comcel, breaches the FTA. The practice is also representing Gilat in domestic arbitration initiated by UGC-FUSA that alleges the breach of a technological infrastructure-project contract adjudicated by the Colombian Ministry of Telecommunications.
Boutique firm Palacios Lleras handles national and international arbitrations, mainly regarding corporate, infrastructure and construction matters. The ‘excellent’ team is praised for its ‘dedication, deep knowledge in diverse subjects and ability to understand and incorporate the clients’ needs’. Hugo Palacios Mejía, Oscar Gutiérrez and Pedro Pacheco head the practice, which continues to act as co-counsel to a major international mining group in a complex, multiparty international arbitration against a rail concessionaire; under ICC rules, the case is valued at over $1bn. The team is also representing two shareholders of a leading national infrastructure company in seven local arbitrations, which have as common ground an abuse of rights by a majority shareholder. Carolina Deik is also noted.
Arrubla Devis Asociados
Boutique firm Arrubla Devis Asociados is active in domestic arbitration. Founding partner Jaime Alberto Arrubla Paucar recently led the successful representation of a food multinational in an arbitral procedure initiated by two of its shareholders, who requested the annulment of certain decisions adopted by the company. Rafael Mccausland is also a key name in the nine-strong practice group.
CMS Rodríguez-Azuero’s lawyers have ‘strong experience’ in local arbitration disputes. Founding partner - and co-leader of the practice - Sergio Rodríguez-Azuero served as chair of the arbitration panel summoned to decide disputes between Unión Temporal Muelle et al and Barranquilla International Terminal Company and Barranquilla Container Terminal. Meanwhile Daniel Rodríguez, who leads the compliance and public procurement areas, served as panel chair in the disputes between two private parties regarding a purchase agreement.
DAC Beachcroft Colombia
Dentons Cardenas & Cardenas enters the rankings on the back of recently gained experience in both domestic and international arbitration and excellent client feedback. Practice head Ximena Zuleta successfully represented a construction company in ICC arbitration initiated on the grounds of breach of contract by a contractor hired for the construction of major works. Other highlights included successfully acting in a domestic arbitration which had paralysed a project on the land in dispute; the arbitral tribunal dismissed the claimant's request. Senior associate Paula Vejarano is also recommended.
Garrigues acts in national and international arbitrations, mostly relating to construction and shareholder disputes. The ‘strong’ Alberto Acevedo leads the seven-lawyer practice, which is currently representing Frontera Energy in a construction arbitration initiated by SDV Energía e Infraestructura, one of its former contractors. The firm is also acting for OHL in a domestic arbitration initiated by Mas Stone, one of its gravel supplying contractors.