Litigation in Colombia
Baker McKenzie S.A.S.
Led by Claudia Benavides, who was recently named chair of the firm’s global practice group, Baker McKenzie S.A.S.’s Bogotá-based team has a ‘strong reputation in the market’ and ‘shines thanks to its professionalism, expertise and responsiveness’. Cristina Mejía and associates Juan Guillermo Otero and Jorge Valencia are also key members of the 14-strong group, which successfully defended Parsons Group on both legal and technical grounds against alleged responsibility for damages at a power plant; a favourable first instance ruling was confirmed on appeal, with the plaintiffs held responsible for all the defendant's costs and legal expenses. The team is currently representing leading broadcaster Caracol in a $20m lawsuit filed by local retail company Madis de Colombia regarding the alleged publication of untrue facts about Madis. Other clients include Embraer, China United Engineering Corporation, Louis Berger Group and Shell.
Brigard Urrutia’s litigation and insolvency department provides clients with ‘great strategy proposals’ that display ‘deep knowledge of the law’. Leading figures Luis Alfredo Barragán and Irma Rivera head a 21-strong practice group, one of the largest in the market; it recently successfully represented Almacenes Éxito in a judicial action filed by shareholder Alimentos Bonfiglio, seeking to vacate a decision taken by the general shareholders’ assembly to approve the purchase of two foreign retail companies. Other mandates saw the firm successfully representing General Electric, in the first and second instance, in a lawsuit initiated by insurance companies arising from damages to a power plant; the firm proved that the root cause of the damage was attributable to an operational error by the facility’s owner and was therefore unrelated to a fabrication or installation issue. Senior associates Felipe Mutis, Natalia Ángel and María Munevar-Torrado are also key members of the team; however, senior associate Susana Hidvegi left the firm to join the nation’s companies’ regulator, Superintendencia de Sociedades.
The ‘results-oriented’ Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA) is ‘outstanding in getting to know the business in order to give in-depth legal opinions, and not just providing off the book concepts and recommendations’. A very well-reputed figure in the field, William Araque heads the 16-strong team, with David Araque as co-director of the dispute resolution and investment protection practice. Both are particularly recommended for - among other skills - developing ‘relationships of trust generating a strong synergy’. The practice is continuing to act for Chevron on a $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. In other work, the team successfully represented Compañía Minera Cerro Tasajero, in the first and second instances, in a dispute arising out of a breach of a port-operation services contract. Clients include Honeywell, OHL, Refinería de Cartagena and Servientrega.
Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría offers ‘experience and versatility’ and delivers ‘good results’ in complex civil, commercial and administrative litigation. Julio César González and Héctor Hernández co-head the 15-strong team, which has a ‘great capacity to understand the needs of the client and provide alternative solutions’. The firm is advising the subsidiary of a leading global investment bank in a class action brought by Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo, which seeks - within the company’s forced liquidation process as ordered by the health regulator - to declare the sale of the contracts, assets and liabilities of Saludcoop EPS in 2017 null and void; the investment bank had advised the company in the transactions. Other mandates included representing a number of local gas and energy company in an action against the issuance by the regulator of an executive order that modifies their remuneration. Senior associates Mario Pérez and Juan Sebastián Arias are also noted. Siemens, Lazard, DHL and Citibank are some of the firm's other clients.
Posse Herrera Ruiz’s practice is co-headed by founding partner Daniel Posse, described as ‘always the best option’ and praised for ‘his mind-blowing strategies’, along with Carolina Posada, who is also recommended. The 20-strong practice group is ‘solid and structured’; recently, the team successfully represented Bancolombia in a claim filed by Interbolsa that sought to reverse a payment made by the company the day before an intervention by the financial regulator. Other highlights included acting as legal counsel to Gedeon Richter in a constitutional action against the company and other producers of similar medications alleging the violation of consumer rights. María Lucía Posada and Pablo Enrique Sierra are also noted.
Botero Salazar Tobón Abogados
Boutique firm Botero Salazar Tobón Abogados specialises in dispute resolution and insurance, principally advising international companies with local Colombian operations. Bernardo Salazar and fellow name partner Luís Botero co-head the ten-strong practice group, which is currently defending GlaxoSmithKline Colombia against a tort claim involving multiple public entities. The team is also representing Halliburton in an action filed against Gold Oil Corporation and Reickon. Other clients include Glencore, Frontera, Kodak, Dell and Alpina.
CMS Rodríguez-Azuero has had dispute resolution at its core since its original founding as a boutique in 1980, particularly in financial regulatory and administrative litigation. The practice group also houses white-collar crime capability. The 13-strong team is co-led by senior partner Sergio Rodríguez-Azuero and Carolina Arenas, who has particular expertise representing groups defrauded by Ponzi schemes. Daniel Rodríguez, who leads the compliance and public procurement practices, and Jacques Simhon, who leads the corporate criminal law practice, are also active in the sector. The team is currently advising Banco Internacional de Costa Rica (Bicsa) on the defence of its financial creditor rights in Estraval’s insolvency and liquidation proceeding. Other key active clients include Avantel, Fiduprevisora and Interprint.
DLA Piper Martinez Beltrán’s ten-strong practice provides ‘outstanding’ advice handling litigation cases across a wide range of industries. The well-regarded Camilo Martínez and José Miguel Mendoza co-lead the team, which is currently representing the Colombian Sugarcane Growers Association (Asocaña), as defendant, in a constitutional group action brought by the entire Colombian sugar industry; the plaintiffs allege the use of restrictive business practices. The team is also acting for Incolbest on its opposition to a class action that seeks to ban the use of asbestos, one of the main raw materials the company uses for its final products. Senior associate Julián Solorza and associate Sergio Rojas are also key members of the team. Clients include Fondo Nacional de Gestión del Riesgo de Desastres, Ingenio del Cauca, Bolsa de Valores de Colombia and QBE.
Clients highlight the ‘quality of client-lawyer relationship’ and ‘specific knowledge’ that are to be found at Esguerra Asesores Jurídicos. Founding partner Juan Carlos Esguerra, Felipe Piquero and Andrés Jaramillo head the eight-strong team, which is currently defending Coviandina against a claim by Gaseosas Lux seeking the cancellation of the client’s environmental licence for a fourth generation (4G) road expansion project from Bogotá to Villavicencio. Other 2018 mandates included representing Corficolombiana in a highly publicised case based on a prior dispute which seeks the declaration of the state’s responsibility (due to the actions of the Colombian judiciary) for refusing to force Corficolombiana to pay for two financial products. Other clients include Quala, Oleoducto Bicentenario de Colombia, Colombia Móvil Telecomunicaciones and Drummond.
Garrigues’ team’s ‘exceptional negotiation, research and communication skills allow for fluid work between lawyer and client’. Alberto Acevedo leads the seven-lawyer practice, which can also draw on support from the firm’s wider network. The team is representing TC Buen in a collective action initiated by a group of Buenaventura residents who are claiming redress for the damages caused to their houses and other environmental damages by the company’s port operations; it is also advising Bingos Codere in a series of cases filed by the landlords of one of its casinos in Bogotá after the client assigned the lease agreement to a third party. Other clients include Prosegur, Frontera Energy, Old Mutual and OHL.
Primarily acting for multinationals with operations in Colombia, Holland & Knight fields an ‘outstanding' multi-disciplinary practice group that is 'available 24/7’. Led by Alberto Zuleta, who finds solutions ‘to the toughest problems’, the eight-strong team also includes energy - and energy disputes - specialist José Vicente Zapata (who is highlighted both for his expertise and because he is ‘always hands-on, supervising and working directly on your requests’) and executive partner Enrique Gómez-Pinzón. The practice is currently representing a mining company in several constitutional claims for the protection of fundamental rights regarding ethnic communities. Among other recent highlights, the team continues to defend a telecoms company against a claim brought by a distributor for breach of contract. Associates Juan Casallas and Daniel Fajardo are also noted.
DAC Beachcroft Colombia
Insurance specialist firm DAC Beachcroft Colombia is experienced in representing insurers and reinsurers in relation to third-party civil liability issues in fiscal liability procedures, as well as in ordinary insurance claims, and labour and administrative matters. Camila de la Torre and Juan Diego Arango head the seven-strong practice, which also frequently works with the firm’s other offices in Latin America. The pair recently represented QBE in administrative litigation in which the insurer was called in warranty in relation to a public entity’s professional liability policy. Other work highlights included being appointed by reinsurers MS Amlin to represent the local cedant in a trial in which the insured, a major Chilean company, called insurers in warranty in relation to a claimant’s compensation claim; the case was resolved with a settlement. Clients include Generali, Tokio Marine Kiln, HDI Gerling and El Pacifico-Peruano Suiza Compañía de Seguros y Reaseguros.
Dentons Cardenas & Cardenas
Dentons Cardenas & Cardenas has the ability ‘to deal with high-complexity issues with a fast-response service’, with the team getting ‘deeply involved in the cases’ so as to ‘clearly understand the position’ of the clients. Ximena Zuleta, who also heads the competition and antitrust area, leads the seven-strong practice; senior associate Paula Vejarano is also a key practice group member. Additional support comes from highly regarded corporate practice head Eduardo Cárdenas, who is leading the advice to a major multinational regarding a domestic civil lawsuit initiated by a local dealer that claims the existence of a commercial agency relationship and is seeking damages for the alleged undue termination of a distribution agreement. Other highlights included acting for a client against a governmental entity which claims a breach and undue termination of contract. ExxonMobil, Acciona, Morgan Stanley and ZF Group are active clients.
‘Deeply knowledgeable and very engaged’, Lloreda Camacho & Co.'s litigation and insolvency department provides advice on domestic and cross-border commercial disputes and class actions. Led by ‘recognised figure’ Gustavo Tamayo, the entire the team is noted, in particular senior associates Christian Pérez and Camilo Valenzuela, who joined in 2018 from Moreno Servicios Legales. The practice, which has niche expertise in pharmaceutical liability and medical malpractice, continues to defend a global pharmaceutical company in a multimillion-dollar class action where the plaintiffs allege sickness due to a product commercialised globally by the company. Other mandates included representing Spirit Airlines before the regulator for industry and commerce in a consumer protection lawsuit seeking compensation for the alleged breach of consumer regulations. Clients include Baxalta, Grupo Ondina, Merck Sharp & Dohme.
Leading real estate firm Pinilla González & Prieto Abogados specialises in acting for clients in the construction sector, primarily in disputes arising from the defence of private property and resolved through civil and commercial courts and arbitration. Founding partner and practice co-head Felipe Pinilla successfully led the representation of entrepreneur Carlos Alberto Solarte in several legal and arbitration procedures, aimed at suppressing different blockage attempts promoted by certain shareholders of the commercial company, CSS Constructores. Fellow practice co-heads Camilo Baracaldo and Óscar Martínez are also highlighted. In other work, the team continues to act for residential developer Amarilo in a $40m civil declaratory action. Additional clients include Cemex Colombia, Arias Serna y Saravia, Construcciones Arrecife and Amarey.
Tamayo Jaramillo & Asociados
Based in Medellín, but with offices in Bogotá and handling court cases throughout the country, Tamayo Jaramillo & Asociados specialises in insurance and has expertise in product liability, medical malpractice and class actions arising from environmental contamination. The 15-strong practice also acts in arbitration cases, such as in the defence of Consortium Aguas de Aburrá against a claim for breach of contract by SDV Energía e Infraestructura. Founding partner Javier Tamayo Jaramillo co-heads the practice along with Laura Restrepo, Ana Catalina Restrepo, Carlos Andres Gonzales Galvís and Ana Isabel Villa. Other 2018 mandates included acting for Electricaribe in a lawsuit against Postobón, Coca-Cola and other companies claiming compensation for damages. Clients include Bancolombia, Fenoco, Promigas and Celsia.
Arrubla Devis Asociados
Arrubla Devis Asociados’ nine-strong practice group handles second-instance litigation disputes before the high courts and domestic arbitration cases as part of a broad offering in the sector. Jaime Alberto Arrubla Paucar, who has expertise in handling annulment appeals, and Rafael Mccausland co-lead a team that is representing an international company in one of the 20 most important proceedings (in terms of monetary value and repercussions) currently lodged against the Colombian state. Recent client gains include Isagen, Portal Calicanto, Marina Park and Valoralta.
The ‘extremely dedicated and sophisticated’ Gamboa Abogados handles commercial, civil, administrative and sports law disputes, as well as arbitration proceedings. The highly regarded Ernesto Gamboa and Eduardo Gamboa co-lead the six-strong team, which has a niche practice in relation to port infrastructure projects in the country. The firm represented Sociedad Portuaria Puerto Bahía in a claim against Liberty Seguros regarding non-return of an advance payment and breach of contract by Consorcio ITT. Other clients include Dimayor, Compas, Federacion Colombiana de Fútbol and Dow Chemical.
Known for having particular expertise in tax, Godoy & Hoyos Abogados SAS acts in litigation before regular civil and commercial courts, contentious administrative tribunals and arbitration panels. Key industry sectors for the practice are oil and gas, energy infrastructure and telecoms. Jaime Moya and Juan Sebastián Lombana co-head the five-strong litigation team, which is currently defending one client in a unilateral termination of contract lawsuit brought by an oil and gas company.
J. Correa Abogados
Insurance boutique J. Correa Abogados has long been involved in the shipping markets, where it has particular niche experience in contentious matters. The four-strong practice is led by name partner John Correa, whom clients highlight for his ‘attention to detail and experience’. The team is representing Zurich, Mafre and Allianz and seven other local insurance companies in a multi-jurisdictional shipping liability claim in Colombia. The firm also conducts arbitration proceedings with London law firms before Lloyd's Salvage Arbitration Branch.
Hugo Palacios Mejía, Oscar Gutiérrez and Pedro Pacheco lead the 18-strong dispute resolution practice at the 'prestigious' Palacios Lleras. With expertise in the energy, infrastructure and natural resource sectors, the team is currently advising a mining sector client in 37 lawsuits claiming environmental violations. Other mandates included advising a company in various administrative proceedings concerning a fine imposed by the Ministry of Labour.
Parra Rodríguez Abogados
The well-respected Parra Rodríguez Abogados acts in cross-border litigation regarding contractual liability and consumer protection actions, among other matters, as well as undertaking domestic arbitration for construction and energy companies. Founding partners Bernardo Rodríguez Ossa and Álvaro Parra Gómez head the five-strong practice, which is currently representing a construction sector client in civil proceedings. Other highlights included acting in civil, arbitral, contractual, administrative and maritime proceedings for a multinational company.
Sanclemente Fernández Abogados S.A.
Principally an energy and natural resources firm, Sanclemente Fernández Abogados S.A. frequently represents clients in the oil, gas and mining industries in contractual, employment and popular action disputes, although its offering in the sector is far broader. Claudia Rodríguez heads the five-strong team, which is representing an oil and gas company in several procedures including a popular action and an environmental penalty proceeding.
Ustáriz & Abogados Estudio Jurídico
A new entry to the ranking, market sources highlight Ustáriz & Abogados Estudio Jurídico’s strengths, particularly in financial matters and disputes related with credit issues, consumer protection actions and defending retail clients before the financial regulator. Led by Luis Humberto Ustáriz (‘very experienced and with vast knowledge in diverse matters such as derivatives, letters of credits and arbitration’), the seven-strong practice represented Consorcio Beta Oil in a contractual dispute with Ecopetrol seeking judicial liquidation of the contract and indemnity for seizures. Clients include Banco Davivienda, Compañia Mundial de Seguros and BBVA Seguros de Vida.