Dispute resolution: arbitration in Mexico

Hogan Lovells

The department at Hogan Lovells has successfully harnessed its impressive global footprint to offer clients one of the finest international arbitration practices in the country. The Mexico City office displays robust experience across a comprehensive spread of cases, routinely handling both local and international -primarily commercial arbitration and associated litigation, damages and administrative matters. Practice co-head Omar Guerrero is currently acting as lead counsel to a major north American gas pipeline company in three LCIA arbitrations (and related court proceedings), against a state-owned entity in relation to contract termination and force majeure clauses. His fellow co-lead, Luis Enrique Graham is also currently acting as party counsel, as well as a chairman and co-arbitrator in ICDR and ICC arbitral proceedings. Other key practitioners include Monterrey-based Alejandro García González, who has two decades' arbitral experience, and also undertakes civil, commercial and administrative arbitration; and younger partners Jorge Valdés King (arbitration, litigation and bankruptcy), and Luis Ernesto Peón, who was promoted to partner in January 2020. The department represents a varied client roster from industries including insurance, manufacturing, oil and gas, construction and infrastructure, and technology. Senior associate Carlos Alvarado Moreno is also noted as one to watch.

Testimonials

Excellent work team, very professional and dedicated to customer needs. Level far superior to other studies with excellent service.

Omar Guerrero, a partner of the firm, is an excellent litigator who proposes novel and effective strategies. Senior associate Carlos Alvarado shows arbitration leadership, dedication and willingness to respond to all client requirements. Clearly a lawyer who deserves to be featured.

Von Wobeser y Sierra, SC

Von Wobeser y Sierra, SC houses a top-of-the-line dispute team, comprised of a group of distinguished commercial, civil and administrative litigators, as well as local and international arbitration specialists. On the arbitral-side, the department -which is regularly mandated in disputes against state-owned entities such as Pemex and the CFE- was further reinforced in January 2020 with the incorporation of former judge at the Supreme Justice Court, Margarita Luna Ramos; a member of CAM, CANACO and IMA, her private practice focuses on arbitration and associated consultancy. She joins a team led by 'doyen of the Mexican arbitration scene', firm founding partner Claus Von Wobeser. He, in turn, co-leads the practice with 'fantastic advocate' Adrián Magallanes and Montserrat Manzano, who was appointed chair of the Americas Initiative at the Institute for Transnational Arbitration (ITA) in July 2020. Further experienced input comes from of counsel Alexandra von Wobeser; and the 30-strong team boasts a deep bench of experienced, arbitration-focused associates. Recent matters include its successful representation of Ingenieros Civiles Asociados (ICA) in a complex maritime and ports dispute involving cross-claims and valued at $500m; the counterparty, Dutch company APMT, subsequently joined the firm's client roster. Also noteworthy, the firm was among early signees of the 'arbitration pledge' to appoint women as arbitrators; supports diversity initiatives 'Arbitral women in Mexico' and Abogadas MX, and was awarded Best Places to Work LGBT 2020.

Testimonials

The firm attracts the brightest legal talents. Very professional and knowledgeable. Adrian Magallanes is a fantastic advocate. He is exceptionally bright, very eloquent, and perfectly understands how to present a case in the best light possible for his client. He is very convincing before tribunals.

Negotiation skills and creating effective strategies to resolve conflicts satisfactorily and in optimal time. Adrian Magallanes far exceeded the expectations given the complexity of the matter. He seemed like a person with a very clear and objective mind. He knew how to approach the matter with great creativity, being extremely effective in the negotiations.

Key clients

Anheuser Bush – Cervecería Modelo

BMW

Dal–Tile

ICA Fluor

IEnova

Ingenieros Civiles Asociados

Invenergy

Mitsubishi

Siemens Energy

Swiber Offshore

Work highlights

  • Advising Anheuser Busch in investor-State arbitration under the Mexico-Netherlands bilateral investment treaty, against the Republic of Mexico; value, $3bn.
  • Advisng Dal-Tile in investment arbitration against Mexico (and in local judicial proceedings pertaining to the enforcement of an arbitration agreement), brought under Nafta Chapter 11 and concerning a commercial dispute.
  • Advising IEnova in an energy dispute under the ICC rules against State-power entity CFE regarding the latters refusal to pay  fixed gas transportation costs as contractually required.
  • Advised multinational automotive parts manufacturer Magna International on a dispute with one of its local manufacturers’ the cases was successfully settled in early stages of the arbitration.

Wöss & Partners

Specialist boutique, Wöss & Partners focuses on international arbitration, damages, infrastructure, energy and trade law, and is highly specialised in commercial and investment arbitration, dispute settlement procedures under NAFTA and before the World Trade Organization. Hugely experienced name partner Herfried Wöss is currently acting as arbitrator in five cases, including a $200m LCIA case; as an expert in a $100m case ICC case in Peru; and party counsel in cases in Germany, Peru and Mexico; recently admitted to  the Washington DC Bar as a special legal consultant, he is now able to act as an international arbitrator in the State. A member of the ICCA-ASIL task force on damages in international arbitration, fellow founding partner Adriana San Román has 30 years' experience and is a financial analyst and damages expert as well as a lawyer. Recent matters include winning a $330m ICDR damages cases regarding two oil platforms based upon an expert opinion of San Román; and acting as party counsel to Tractebel (Engie/GDF Suez), as defendant, in a $400m energy-tariff damages arbitration. The team also undertakes contract and claim management; dispute prevention, management and resolution; and has extensive experience in dispute boards as a risk-mitigation mechanism in large infrastructure projects. The firm has furthered it's push into the energy sector with the September 2019 hire of former long-time Gas Natural Fenosa GC, Carlos Rodríguez Sámano.

Key clients

ThyssenKrupp

Techint

I-New Unified Mobile Solutions

Work highlights

  • Represented ThyssenKrupp in a $14m arbitration in Guatemala related to the largest construciton project in said country.
  • Herfried Wöss is currently president of the arbitral tribunal of an LCIA case regarding a multimillion-dollar construction project in the Mexican energy sector.
  • Preparation of an expert opinion with respect to technical issues and claims in order to arrange for settlement or a possible arbitration; value, $30m.
  • Represented a leading compaction-machinery company in arbitration derived from an international sales contract that escalated into a complex cross-border transaction involving Mexican customs law and German substantive law.

Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enríquez, S.C.

Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enríquez, S.C.'s move into dispute resolution in recent years has resulted in  a 10-strong practice group primarily focused on administrative litigation and arbitration. It is led by of counsel Bernardo Sepúlveda Amor, a former vice president of the International Court of Justice in The Hague whose most recent arbitral appointments include as tribunal president in a case before ICSID, co-arbitrator in a PCA case under UNCITRAL rules, and as presiding arbitrator in an ICC case. He brings senior expertise to an arbitral practice focused on commercial and investor-State arbitration. Key senior practitioners include counsels Carlos Martínez Betanzos, who focuses on high-end domestic and international commercial arbitration, investor-State cases, cross-border disputes and international law matters; and Héctor Anaya Mondragón, who in addition to his litigation activity, also undertakes both commercial and investment arbitration. Senior associate and prominent international law specialist Luis Jardón also handles arbitral matters; he and Martínez Betanzos are currently acting as co-counsel alongside Covington & Burling LLP representing Legacy Vulcan in a $500m NAFTA arbitration before ICSID against Mexico. Other recent and ongoing mandates include a multimillion-dollar cross border commercial case, seated in Mexico and under ICC rules; ad hoc arbitration regarding a reinsurance claim; post M&A disputes and damages arbitration.

Practice head(s):

Bernardo Sepúlveda Amor

Testimonials

It is a firm that has a true teamwork, with a multidisciplinary experience that is strategic in complex arbitrations.’

Extensive experience in various complex subjects. There is one word in English… resourceful.

Héctor Anaya, Luis Jardón and Andrés Ríos of the younger crowd stand out. My criticism would be that the firm has no partners in the arbitration practice. However, counsel-level people are really involved at the partner level.

It is a very good team. I believe they will continue to grow, as together with the talent of Héctor Anaya and Carlos Marténez – both excellent lawyers – a very solid corporate and M&A area is combined, from which they will surely receive jobs.

I think they can provide comprehensive advice to the client, since their M&A area is very strong. Few firms manage to balance their litigious and corporate areas.

Excellent arbitration team for commercial and investment disputes; Carlos Martinez and Luis Jardon.

The quality of their work; the intelligence and timeliness of the advice.

Key clients

Legacy Vulcan

Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle S.C.

The arbitration practice at the Mexican office of international firm Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle S.C. is co-led by the ‘exceptional Gabriela Álvarez Ávila, a former ICSID senior counsel; and oil, gas and power arbitration specialist Eloy Barbará de Parres. The pair work closely with disputes specialists in the firm's Washington, D.C. (particularly managing partner Claudia Frutos-Peterson, who plays a key role in the team) and Geneva offices. The firm, which is particularly known for its specialisation in state-side representations, employs its Mexico City practice as a key hub for its Latin American investor-state dispute work. It is currently representing the Republic of Venezuela in two proceedings before ICSID (against ConocoPhillips and Universal Compression International, respectively), as well as a third case under UNCITRAL rules. Álvarez-Ávila is also currently tribunal president in an insurance case concerning alleged breaches of Panamanian-Dominican Republic international treaty obligations. Associate Ricardo Mier y Teran is also noted.

Testimonials

They have two spectacular lawyers, with vast experience in investor-state arbitrations: Gabriela Álvarez and Claudia Frutos. Both were counselors at ICSID. In my opinion, there are no Mexican lawyers with the level of Gabriela and Claudia in investment arbitrations.

Gabriela Álvarez and Claudia Frutos-Peterson – simply exceptional!

Key clients

Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Petroléos de Venezuela

Corpoguanipa

PDVSA Petróleo

Procuraduría Federal de la Defensa del Trabajo

Work highlights

  • Representing Venezuela in long-running ICSID arbitration commenced by subsidiaries of ConocoPhillips  with respect to petroleum projects; original claim, $30bn.
  • Represented Venezuela in a $1.2bn ICSID arbtiration dispute concerning the nationalization of a gas compression and power generation facility.
  • Advising Venezuela in a $258m arbitration commenced 2013 by Venezuela US, a Barbadian company, against state companies that are its co- shareholders in mixed-company Petroritupano, for violationof various provisions of the countries’ BIT agreement.
  • Retained by a new State client in the region regarding a $305m waste-disposal-facility dispute under UNCITRAL rules and amdinistered by ICSID.

Galicia Abogados S.C.

With ‘vast knowledge, dedication and international prestige’ as a corporate powerhouse, Galicia Abogados S.C. has steadily built its disputes capabilities over the last few years and is beginning to reap the rewards of its efforts. If still best known in disputes circles for its litigation capabilities, it also has increasing traction in the arbitral segment, most clearly signalled by its current representation of Carso Gasoductos Norte in a $500m London Court of International Arbitration dispute initiated by Mexican state power entity, Comisión Federal de Electricidad. The team is co-led by Rodrigo Zamora and Cecilla Azar; Zamora specializes in commercial litigation and arbitration and has extensive experience as both counsel and arbitrator. Azar, in turn, as her roles as current president of Intstituto Mexicano de Arbitraje and vice president of the ICC’s Mexico Arbitration Commission would suggest, is arbitration dedicated - particularly in relation to the energy, infrastructure and construction sectors. Key support comes from dedicated senior associate Paola Aldrete (who arrived with Azar from DLA Piper Gallastegui y Lozano in 2018), and associate Santiago Oñate.

Testimonials

The best of Mexico in this area, vast knowledge, dedication and international prestige.

They have an enviable team. The leaders of the practice (Rodrigo Zamora and Cecilia Azar) are exceptional. Serious, committed and very effective and efficient lawyers. The pair are extremely well-trained attorneys and there is no method of conflict resolution that they do not know how to carry out – from mediation to litigation before state courts. They are lawyers who are distinguished by their argumentation and persuasion skills.’

Their involvement in the case pushes the client to document the case and make decisions.

Key clients

Carso Gasoducto Norte

Work highlights

  • Represented Carso Gasoductos Norte in a $500m LCIA  arbitration dispute initiated by Mexican state-owned power company CFE concerning a natural gas pipeline construction and transportation services agreement-related dispute.

White & Case S.C.

The eight-strong practice group at international firm White & Case S.C.'s Mexico office is led by partner Rafael Llano Oddone; a well-known figure in international arbitration circles, he has considerable ICC and ICSID experience -particularly in relation to Peru and Paraguay- and is currently leading the firm's counsel to Telefónica in a $450m case against the Republic of Colombia. The office works in close conjunction with the firm's global practice (regional practice head Jonathan Hamilton, for example, is also acting on the Telefónica matter), which has seen the local team strengthened by the presence of international associate Mariele Coulet Díaz, currently on secondment from the firm's Paris office, while home-grown associate talent includes Juan Pablo Hugues.

Practice head(s):

Rafael Llano Oddone

Testimonials

The team that attended us had extensive knowledge on the subject in question. Lawyer Rafael Llano stood out in his promptness and extensive knowledge of the topics to be discussed.’

Extensive experience in international arbitration (ICC), an experienced and well-armed team throughout the value chain (from interns to partners).

‘Sara Madrid and Pedro Izquierdo – comprehensive understanding of the case and all its angles. Outstanding.

Key clients

Telefónica

Kappes, Cassiday & Associates

Work highlights

  • Lead counsel in Telefonica’s ongoing 2018-claim against Colombia (pursuant to the Colombia-Spain BIT) in relation to its investments in the country’s telecommunications spectrum; vaue, $450m
  • Advising Daniel W Kappes, and Kappes, Cassiday & Associates’ (KCA), in an on-going 2018-claim against Guatemala, pursuant to the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA).

DLA Piper Gallastegui y Lozano

The global firm's Mexican office, DLA Piper Gallastegui y Lozano garners praise for its ‘impressive ability to represent clients and cases in various jurisdictions’, and -with the early 2019-hire of the ‘excellent’ Kate Brown de Vejar (now global chair of the firm's international arbitration practice), stands out for its considerable experience representing a wide range of clients from the energy, consumer goods, aviation, and food and beverages sectors, in (primarily) commercial arbitration. Brown de Vejar co-leads the Mexico-based practice group with Gerardo Lozano Alarcón, who also has extensive experience, particularly as an ICC arbitrator, and before ICDR, UNICITRAL, ICC and LCIA tribunals. The practice has a healthy Mexico-related caseload, particularly in relation to the energy sector where current matters include representing a major retailer in an ICC dispute concerning a long-term power-supply contract, and a major electricity entity concerning a gas supply dispute.

Testimonials

The team has an impressive ability to represent client and  cases in various jurisdictions which is very important; Kate Brown de Vejar is an excellent practitioner.

Work highlights

  • Representation of the Republic of Lithuania in a multi-billion dollar UNCITRAL claim brought by a Russian investor in the banking sector, alleging unlawful expropriation of a Bank based in Lithuania.

Pérez Correa González

An increasing presence in this segment, the disputes team at the former SOLCARGO has considerable experience in commercial arbitration and additionally, in disputes concerning the enforcement or annulment of awards, as well as with interim measures during arbitral proceedings. The practice group also has extensive experience in NAFTA Chapter 11 arbitrations. Recent matters include acting as lead counsel to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Transportation in a $67m arbitration brought by the operator of an international bridge; and assisting Crowley Technical Management and Marine Management Services with an enforcement matter. Senior partner Fernando Pérez Correa has over 25 years' experience as lead counsel in investment and commercial arbitration as both party counsel and arbitrator; fellow practice co-head José Covarrubias, in turn, has 15 years' engagement in the sector, particularly as regards technically complex cases in relation to both investment and commercial matters; he also has experience in arbitration-related judicial proceedings and enforcement and annulment matters. Following Gilberto Osio 's move in house in March 2020, Salvador Vivanco and Zulima Gonzalez  are the key senior associates. However, since publication the firm has split in three; the disputes team remains at multiservice successor firm, Pérez Correa González, which opened its doors in December 2002, although former senior Arturo Rivera Méndez moved to Santamarina y Steta.

Testimonials

Solcargo’s strengths are: 1.- Personalised attention from partners and lawyers2.- The technical dominance of the subject and experience.

Salvador Vivanco – a lawyer with technical mastery of the issues, service and disposition. Jose Covarrubias – an excellent lawyer, who dominates the subject and provides first class service.’

‘They are extremely meticulous in their work. They are directly, deeply and personally involved in taking care of our affairs; and they have a great ability to understand the needs of all parties involved and seek to mediate before generating a problem.

Key clients

Comisión Federal de Electricidad

Japan Tobacco International

Exportadora de Sal

Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes

Crowley Technical Management / Marine Management Services

G500 Group

Abengoa

Work highlights

  • Lead counsel to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Transportation in several complex proceedings related to an ad hoc arbitration brought by the operator of an International Bridge; value, $67m.
  • Representing Exportadora del Sal in proceedings seeking the annulment of a $5m award (or rejection of its enforcement) due to evidence emerging in related administrative and criminal proceedings.
  • Representing Crowley Technical Management and Marine Management Services in judicial proceedings to obtain the enforcement of a $1m award made in the US in arbitration under the rules of the Society of Maritime Arbitrators.

Ritch Mueller

Name partner Thomas Heather leads the seven-strong practice at corporate heavyweight Ritch, Mueller, Heather y Nicolau, S.C.; a multifaceted practitioner long-known for his profile in bankruptcy matters, has been steadily growing his participation in arbitral matters for some years. Increasingly in demand as an arbitrator, he recently sat as an arbitrator in four LCIA arbitrations between Fermaca and the CFE regarding gas-pipeline systems in Mexico. Further partner level input comes from key practitioners Jorge Oria y Anaya, whose arbitral focus is primarily in relation to energy and infrastructure project matters. Senior associate Adriana Padilla, while not solely dedicated to arbitration, has over ten years' experience - particularly in CAM and ICC cases. A significant proportion of the practice group's caseload relates to renewables projects, hydrocarbons and other energy-sector matters. Notably, Heather is also highly active in the (non-arbitral) mediation of disputes. Since publication, Heather has moved to Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enríquez, S.C. as of counsel, effective as of mid-January 2021.

Testimonials

This firm has advised us with great success in complex analysis of diverse documentation to issue useful legal opinions for decision-making in the resolution of disputes and conflicts between shareholders.

The promptness of their analyzes; their depth. Highlights: Thomas Heather.

Key clients

Vertex Private Equity

Work highlights

  • Thomas Heather was selected as an arbitrator in four international arbitrations involving gas pipelines systems of the CFE in Mexico; including complex claims in respect of disputed contract clauses.
  • Advising Vertex Private Energy on a contractual dispute involving arbitration in Mexico and regarding a luxury hotel/resort in Baja California, Mexico.

COMAD, S.C.

Construction law, public procurement and government contracting are the central focus of Comad, S.C., which in addition to handling anti-corruption in relation to interactions with state agencies, also undertakes dispute resolution regarding these key practices. In practice this has led to particular expertise in construction related arbitration and dispute boards. Key figure, senior partner and practice head Roberto Hernández Garcia was the founding chair of the Construction Disputes Committee of ICC México and has unparalleled disputes-board experience. Current arbitral mandates include a pair of multimillion-dollar international arbitrations against New International Mexico City Airport -in the wake of the cancellation of the project- on behalf of Parsons International. Key support comes from fellow partner María Isabel Rodriguez.

Testimonials

What we seek from this practice is experience in working on cases with government entities. COMAD proved to have extensive experience in this type of work and has represented us in a satisfactory and effective way.

Mr. Roberto Hernandez has demonstrated a level of knowledge of related topics that puts him at a higher level than others. His actions have been very beneficial for our interests and have been very beneficial for our development.

Key clients

Gilbane Alberici

Turner Construction

T Systems

Gray Construction

Grupo Laboratorios Imperiales Pharma

CRTKL

BurnsMcDonnell

Work highlights

  • Ascting as co-counsel, and lead co-counsel to Parsons International in two ICC arbitrations (for $15m and $20m, respectively), against the New Mexico City International Airport entity.
  • Roberto Hernández is currently participating in disputes boards concerning projects in El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and Peru, among others.

Holland & Knight

The eight-strong team at Holland & Knight handles primarily commercial arbitration, with a mix of construction, investment treaty and NAFTA-related disputes. Led by Carlos Vejar, a ‘first-class’ practitioner who focuses on disputes and international trade, the group is currently involved in diverse commercial cases under LCIA rules involving Mexican state-owned enterprises. At associate level, focused support comes from Juan Pablo Moyano (whose past experience includes three years as an international case manager at the ICDR); and international semi-senior Laura Yvonne Zielinski, who is France and New York qualified. However, the team endured the departure of practice co-head Salvador Fonseca, who left to join disputes boutique "RoyPe" - now Fonseca, Rodríguez y Perchemlian - in June 2020.

Practice head(s):

Carlos Véjar

Testimonials

The follow-up they give to the entrusted matters is notably superior to that of other offices. They even give sound recommendations on points that could impact the business (eg reforms, reform projects, initiatives, etc.).’

Carlos Vejar is a first class partner and leads the practice. He has the support of two very well-trained associates.

If you compare, I think they analyse the elements of the case very well, they give you the required time and above all they are very sincere in their opinions without giving false hopes.

Juan Moyano is a very prepared person, when one observes the curriculum and preparation of the lawyers of that office, the truth is outstanding, he is a very patient and dedicated person, besides always providing clear answers.’

Work highlights

  • We are representing a Mexican electricity utility company in a multimillion construction arbitration case under the rules of the LCIA in connection  with the construction of a hydroelectric plant in Chicoasen Chiapas.
  • Currently representing  a Mexican electricity utility company in a commercial arbitration under the rules of the LCIA regarding a dispute derived from a contract for the transportation of natural gas.
  • Represented a global software company as a defendant in an arbitration regarding the implementation of ERP software; the case was settled on favourable terms for the client.