Legal Market Overview
In 2018, the Dominican Republic’s developing friendship with China took a decisive turn when the Republic formally established diplomatic relations with the Chinese government, marking the end of its former diplomatic relationship with Taiwan. As a result, Chinese investment in the country continues to grow, as more companies seek to establish a presence in the Republic. Finance and M&A work continue to thrive, with a reported economic growth of 6.3% over the past six years.
Tourism remains a key focus for the government, with many firms reporting an increase in work from the renewable energy sector, alongside telecoms and infrastructure mandates. Aviation is another active sector. Punta Cana and Puerto Plata are noted hotspots for real estate and tourism work, with growing interest in the south and southwest as potential areas of investment.
In the corporate sector, the 2017 legislative changes regarding money laundering and capital markets regulations continue to have a prominent impact on mandates, and following the reforms to the Republic’s restructuring and insolvency laws, firms report a significant increase in corporate restructuring matters. A key recent legislative development took place in March 2019, when the government enacted Law 68-19, an amendment to Article 91 of the Dominican Republic’s Commercial Companies Law, which eliminated the minimum capital requirement of DOP100,000 required in order to incorporate limited liability companies. The impact this will have on corporate work remains to be seen.
In the dispute resolution sector, administrative and constitutional litigation remain prominent areas of instruction, and arbitration is on the rise. Following recent legislative changes regarding competition law, antitrust disputes and investigations by the competition authority have been more prominent in firms’ caseloads.
Recent market changes saw EY Law Central America enter the Dominican Republic after a number of corporate partners joined the firm from Proxies Leyes y Negocios, while major insurance-market player Kennedys has entered into an association with insurance law firm Alvarez & Alvarez. In 2018 Luis Pellerano set up full-service firm Pellerano Nadal; in April 2019 Bufete Messina-Lugo IP became Bufete Lugo Lovaton following the departure of Ana Messina Vasquez, who teamed up with Pellerano & Herrera to create boutique firm Pellerano & Messina, a new entry into the IP market.
Key local players in the market include large full-service firms, notably Headrick Rizik Alvarez & Fernández, Pellerano & Herrera and Guzmán Ariza, and other prominent names include Castillo y Castillo, Jiménez Cruz Peña, OMG and Russin, Vecchi & Heredia Bonetti. Squire Patton Boggs is noted for being the only large US firm with an office in the Dominican Republic, and counts corporate and finance mandates as a core strength, with dispute resolution a growing area for the firm. IP boutiques – such as Angeles Pons and Troncoso Leroux – augment the legal landscape.