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Colombia > Dispute resolution > Litigation > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Dispute resolution: Litigation
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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Baker McKenzie S.A.S.’s clients greatly appreciate not only the ‘great quality’ of the 12-strong team ‘from the legal technical point of view’ but also its ‘great knowledge of the industry and high strategic level’. The team primarily advises multinationals on multimillion-dollar transnational litigation disputes and multi-jurisdictional claims arising from M&A transactions and infrastructure controversies, acting for clients such as, Schrader Camargo Ingenieros Asociados, Empresas Públicas de Medellín, Caracol and The Louis Berger Group, among others. Led by the highly regarded Claudia Benavides, ‘a lawyer who has proven to be able to lead the multidisciplinary work teams necessary to address several complex court cases’, the practice recently promoted Cristina Mejía, a former head of the litigation department in Coca-Cola Femsa, to partner. The pair represented China United Engineering Corporation in a civil proceeding against insurance company Axa Colpatria Seguros in a dispute derived from the construction of the civil works of a power plant in Colombia. Benavides also worked in tandem – this time with Juan Guillermo Otero, who is praised for his ‘solid knowledge and experience’ – in defending Finosca, owned by Total EyP Colombie in a widely covered $2bn class action dispute filed against several companies and seeking compensation for damages allegedly caused by an oil spill. The team also offers advice regarding disputes related to distribution, supply and commercial agency agreements for clients such as FedEx, Exxon Mobile, British American Tobacco, Embraer, Ferring International and Federal Mogul. Ricardo Rincon and Jorge Valencia are also key members of the team.

Powerhouse Brigard & Urrutia’s litigation team stands out for its size; with 21 lawyers, clients point to a response time that is not at odds with its ‘high quality’ counsel. ‘Each one of its partners and associates is consistently good in providing timely and suitable advice’. Co-heads Irma Rivera and Luis Alfredo Barragán successfully represented a social-media platform in two constitutional actions for the protection of fundamental rights in 2017. The team also achieved a landmark ruling for a mobile operator client, which filed a claim for unfair competition acts and violation of the general obligations established by the Communications Regulatory Commission. Covering a wide range of areas in private litigation, the practice is especially noted for its expertise in the insolvency field, offering a ‘cutting edge, holistic approach to its advice’; associate Susana Hidvegi is highly recommended in this area. Senior associate Felipe Mutis is also praised.

Founding partner Daniel Posse, whose expertise in the field is ‘unrivalled’, co-leads Posse Herrera Ruiz’s 20-strong team along with Carolina Posada, who is ‘thorough, accurate, strategic, a true out-side-of the box thinker’. Clients point to proportionate costs, in terms of quality and results, the disposition of the four partners, attending directly the matters, and the integrity and ethics with which the cases are conducted. The practice undertakes corporate and commercial disputes, constitutional actions and administrative litigation. It is representing Toyota in a case against a former distributor, and Fundación Social in a case against its co-investors in a pharmaceutical project. Other matters include advising a mining company regarding a constitutional action that affects the viability of one of its projects and representing a multinational retailer regarding a regulatory fine. María Lucía Posada is also highly recommended; she is advising mining company South 32’s Cerro Matoso subsidiary on administrative proceedings that seek to annul enacted regulations which established the retroactivity of nickel royalty payments for the group’s Colombian mines. Pablo Enrique Sierra and Juan Pablo Bonilla are also noted.

DLA Piper Martinez Beltrán undertakes litigation and arbitration processes, both in national and international courts, for local and international clients in disputes arising from all areas of business law. Clients include Incolbest, Asocaña, Banco Comercial Av Villas, Bolsa De Valores De Colombia Avinsas, Casa Editorial El Tiempo, Fondo Nacional De Gestion Del Riesgo De Desastres QBE Seguros, Chevron Corporation and Mercadeo Y Moda (Mango Colombia). The firm is representing the Colombian Sugarcane Growers’ Association in a constitutional action brought by a plaintiff group against the whole Colombian sugar industry for alleged damages amounting to $4.9 bn. The team’s counsel also saw EPK Kids Smarts obtain a favourable ruling in a commercial dispute brought for an alleged usurpation of brand and in which the claimant was requesting the closure of the company’s 60 shops. Camilo Martínez leads the nine-strong team, which has grown with the addition of José Miguel Mendoza, former head of the Colombian public utilities supervisor, as partner. Senior associate Julián Solorza is also a key member of the group.

Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA)’ service stands-out as ‘excellent’ in litigation, where it acts across the full array of case types before a wide range of courts; the practice conducted 500 commercial cases alone, over the course of the last year. The 17-strong team, led by partners William Araque and the recently promoted David Araque, is acting for Chevron Petroleum Company in a high profile $20m domestic litigation regarding the tariff that gas transporters or producers in Colombia may effectively charge purchasers. The case is particularly sensitive since it also involves the interpretation that the relevant regulatory body (CREG), has of the tariffs system. The practice also continues to represent Servientrega and its major shareholder and founder; Luz Mary Guerrero obtained a favourable decision in the first instance in a dispute initiated by two plaintiffs claiming ownership of a 10% interest in the corporation and in all the companies belonging to the conglomerate since 1980. Other clients include Benetton Group, Zimmer Biomet International, Panel Rock Colombia and Representaciones Latinoamericanas.

Héctor Hernández and Julio César González co-lead Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría’s 17-strong practice, which is leading the litigation on behalf of two major mining companies of over 400 land restitution claims that involve mining and oil and gas concessions in different regions of Colombia. The team has obtained over 40 favourable decisions to date. The team also assisted a multinational construction company with reaching an amicable settlement in a dispute arising from a breach of contract with the subcontractor of a liquidated natural gas receiving, storage and regasification infrastructure. Drummond (Sucursal Colombia) and Vitol Colombia are also clients of the practice; senior associate and key team member Juan Mendoza is noted.

The contentious services provided by Botero Salazar Tobón Abogados are valued since ‘you get the quality, responsiveness and expertise of a top tier firm at a highly competitive rate’. The boutique specialises in dispute resolution and insurance and advises mostly global companies operating in Colombia, such as Johnson & Johnson, Trafigura, Dell and Kodak. Co-led by the ‘pragmatic’ Bernardo Salazar and fellow name-partner Luís Botero, who is praised for his ‘understanding of the business’ and ‘the pertinence of his analysis’, the 10-strong team is representing Glencore’s Colombian subsidiary, CI Prodeco, in proceedings initiated by government agency Ingeominas, seeking the annulment of a contract amendment and damages of approximately $99m. The firm is also advising GlaxoSmithKline Colombia in a tort claim that seeks to establish the company’s liability allegedly arising from a defective product.

Before becoming the Colombian member firm of the CMS international network in January 2017, CMS Rodríguez-Azuero had litigation, particularly financial, regulatory and administrative litigation at its core when still a boutique firm. Sergio Rodríguez Azuero and Carolina Arenas lead one of the few practices in Colombia that cover litigation matters in all areas including criminal issues. With its expertise in financial disputes, the firm acted for a group that fell victim to an illegal deposit-taking scheme in the widely reported Estrategias en Valores and Elite International Américas case. The firm has also advised a company on the interpretation and performance of an administrative purchase agreement entered into with the Colombian Ministry of Defence, as well as on additional disputes. Head of the white-collar practice Jacques Simhon is also recommended.

Clients, which include Telefónica, Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura, Seguros Bolívar and Coca Cola, highlight that Esguerra Asesores Jurídicos is a ‘mid-size firm but certainly, the team provides the same or better service’ than other more sizeable firms in the country. Headed by founding partner Juan Carlos Esguerra and Felipe Piquero, the 14-strong team is representing Coviandina against a lawsuit that seeks to obtain the annulment of an environmental license for the construction of the road expansion from Bogotá to Villavicencio. Andrés Jaramillo is also noted.

Garrigues’ eight-strong practice has niche specializations in unlawful competition disputes and bankruptcy proceedings. The team co-led by José Miguel De La Calle and Alberto Acevedo represented Prosegur in an unlawful competition claim filed by its main competitor in Colombia alleging violations of the private security regime. The firm also acts in real estate litigation and was retained by Old Mutual, which has several disputes with tenants. Other clients include Emgesa, Colombian subsidiary of Enel, Linde Colombia and Alcatel Lucent Submarine Networks.

Very well regarded for both litigation and arbitration, Alberto Zuleta leads Holland & Knight’s six-strong practice, which also include heavyweight energy – and energy disputes – specialist José Vicente Zapata, recommended for his ‘innovation and creativity in the search for solutions’, and executive partner Enrique Gómez-Pinzón. The department acts primarily for multinationals with operations in Colombia, particularly in the chemicals, energy, health and care, mining and utilities sectors. Among recent highlights, the team is defending a telecommunications company against a demand brought by a distributor claiming a breach of contract and benefits derived from the legal protection that Colombian law affords commercial agents.

DAC Beachcroft Colombia is experienced in the litigation area representing local and international insurers and reinsurers in ordinary, labour and administrative matters, as well as third party civil liability issues in fiscal liability procedures before the Contraloría General de la República. The team, co-led by Gabriela Monroy and Juan Diego Arango, also frequently works with the firm’s other offices in Latin America. Recent key work saw Arango and Camila de la Torre represent QBE Seguros in a $10m warranty case involving a public entity’s professional liability policy. Other clients include MS Amlin, Generali Colombia and El Pacifico Peruano Compañía de Seguros y Reaseguros.

Dentons Cardenas & Cardenas’ practice is now led by Ximena Zuleta, who also heads the competition and antitrust area, following the departures of Andrés Fernández de Soto to establish his own firm and Alberto Zuleta's 2017 move to Holland & Knight. The team has been further strengthened with the arrival of senior associate Paula Vejarano, who joined from Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA). The team is experienced in administrative litigation and in disputes in the engineering and construction sectors.

The litigation and insolvency department at Lloreda Camacho & Co. provides advice to multinational and local companies involved in domestic and cross-border commercial disputes and class actions and has niche expertise in pharmaceutical liability, medical malpractice, torts and products liability, among others. The 13-strong practice, led by Gustavo Tamayo, is defending a global pharmaceutical company in a multimillion-dollar class action where the plaintiffs allege sickness due to a globally commercialised product of the company. Other clients include Compañia Hotelera Cartagena de Indias (Hilton Cartagena) and Asociación de Laboratorios Farmacéuticos de Investigación y Desarrollo (AFIDRO).

A leading firm for urban and real estate planning, Pinilla González & Prieto Abogados specialises in defending the construction sector’s interests in disputes arising from the defence of private property and resolved through civil and commercial courts and arbitration. The 10-strong practice, led by founding partner Felipe Pinilla, Camilo Baracaldo and Óscar Martínez, has been acting for residential developer Amarilo in a civil declaratory action valued at $40m, obtaining the lifting of interim measures on the client’s real estate property destined for the development of a mixed-purpose urban project. Other clients include Prodesa, Akila and Corporación Monteverde.

Directed by ‘leading lawyerJavier Tamayo Jaramillo, with Laura Restrepo a key team member, the 14-strong litigation group at Tamayo Jaramillo & Asociados has expertise in product liability, medical malpractice and class actions arising from environmental contamination. Clients value the ‘exceptional’ service, provision of ‘concise’ answers ‘with a focus on the administration of legal risk coupled with an excellent economic weighting of said risks’. The practice is acting for Seguros Generales Suramericana in a class action brought against ISAGEN and other parties and related to the execution of a hydroelectric project on the Sogamoso River. Laura Castaño Echeverri, Carlos Andres Gonzales Galvís and Luis Miguel Gomez are all highlighted.

A new entry to the ranking, Arrubla Devis Asociados’ strength in contentious matters comes from the experience of founding partner Jaime Alberto Arrubla Paucar, a former President of the Supreme Court of Justice who has particular expertise in handling annulment appeals. Rafael Mccausland is also well regarded. The six-strong practice works on commercial, civil, corporate and administrative disputes from its two offices located in Medellin and Bogotá. Highlights include acting for a foreign holding company against the Colombian state in a matter valued around $300m; and representing XM Compañía de Expertos en Mercado in a $25m lawsuit filed by the company in charge of the construction of the Termocol thermo-generation project. Other clients include Grupo Argos, Tecnoquímicas and Falcon Farms de Colombia.

Parra Rodríguez Abogados’ five-strong team, with Bernardo Rodríguez and Álvaro Parra as key members, represents local and international clients in the fields of construction, energy, oil and gas, banking and finance, contractual liability and consumer protection actions, among others. The team recently took administrative legal action seeking direct compensation for damages against a public entity caused by the declaration of a client’s real estate as an environmentally protected area.

Sanclemente Fernández Abogados S.A. principally represents clients in the oil, gas and mining industries in litigation disputes. José Gabriel Fernández and Diana Sanclemente are the key contact names.

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