Firms To Watch: Dispute resolution: arbitration

Dispute resolution boutique firm established in Mexico City, headed by founding partners Luis Asali and Jorge Asali. Boasting a team of around 20 lawyers, the firm covers civil, commercial, administrative and commercial arbitration mandates.

Dispute resolution boutique firm Bufete Asali, established in Mexico City and headed by founding partners Luis Asali and Jorge Asali, boasts a team of around 20 lawyers and covers civil, commercial, administrative and commercial arbitration.
Operating both from Monterrey and Mexico City, the seven-strong practice at Del Castillo y Castro Abogados has notable capabilities in commercial arbitration, acting in local and international proceedings; fronting the practice is partner Fernando Del Castillo, who is closely supported by Monterrey-based partner Camilo Vázquez López.
Operating both from Monterrey and Mexico City, the seven-strong practice at Del Castillo y Castro Abogados boasts some interesting capabilities in commercial arbitration, advising in local and international proceedings that include civil, commercial, construction and insurance representations. Fronting the practice is partner Fernando Del Castillo, who is closely supported by Monterrey-based partner Camilo Vázquez López.
This promising six-strong practice at Garza Tello-Clyde & Co Mexico, which has been operating under the Clyde & Co. and Garza Tello brands since 2017, is headed by partner Vicente Bañuelos; the robust team has a particular focus on proceedings related to the insurance, energy and maritime sectors.

Dispute resolution: arbitration in Mexico

Hogan Lovells

International behemoth Hogan Lovells combines a large and robust litigation area with an impressive arbitration practice, which has successfully harnessed its impressive global footprint to offer clients one of the finest international arbitration practices in the country. Displaying some superb capabilities in commercial arbitration and associated litigation, damages and administrative matters; the 19-strong department is fronted by two specialists: Omar Guerrero, an ‘excellent negotiator’ who is currently representing a major north American gas-pipeline company in three LCIA arbitrations against a state-owned entity (in relation to contract termination and force majeure clauses); and Luis Enrique Graham, who is currently acting as a chairman and co-arbitrator in ICDR and ICC arbitral proceedings. Other key members of the practice include Monterrey-based Alejandro García González, Jorge Valdés King (arbitration, litigation and bankruptcy), and Luis Ernesto Peón. However, senior associate Carlos Alvarado Moreno left the firm to establish his own, eponymous boutique in January 2021.

Practice head(s):

Omar Guerrero Rodríguez; Luis Enrique Graham

Testimonials

‘The level of professionalism is very high, as well as its dedication to defend, within a very broad framework, our interests as clients.’

‘Luis Enrique Graham stands out for his level of legal knowledge as well as for his human qualities and approachability.’

‘Juan Arturo Dueñas has shown great consideration for us and we really feel that his actions and advice are always of the highest level.’

‘Omar Guerrero’s team delivers an excellent service.  He is an excellent lawyer, with great skills in preparing the case strategy for arbitration, as well as an excellent negotiator.’

Von Wobeser y Sierra, SC

Von Wobeser y Sierra, SC is an undoubted powerhouse when it comes to contentious matters and sits at the ‘top of the dispute resolution podium’, thanks to a deep bench of highly experienced commercial, civil and administrative litigators, as well as outstanding local and international arbitration practitioners. On the arbitration front, the practice boasts a wealth of experience - particularly in disputes against state-owned entities such as Pemex and the CFE. The senior team is comprised of founding partner, Claus Von Wobeser, ‘one of the most prominent arbitrators in Latin America’, for someand ‘the kingpin of Mexican arbitration’ for others; Adrián Magallanes, a ‘towering presence in Mexico for arbitration’; and Montserrat Manzano, who was appointed chair of the Americas Initiative at the Institute for Transnational Arbitration (ITA) in July 2020. The 30-strong practice also has a second-line of emergent younger practitioners, notably partner Raymundo Soberanis, who focuses on construction and energy arbitration; and counsels Jessika Rocha and Pablo Fautsch, all three promoted in January 2021.

Practice head(s):

Claus von Wobeser; Adrián Magallanes

Testimonials

‘One of the leading arbitration and litigation firms in Mexico. They have extensive experience in litigation with state entities’

‘They are undoubtedly at the top of the dispute resolution podium’

‘Claus von Wobeser is one of the most prominent arbitrators in Latin America and certainly in Mexico. Few people in the region have his experience. He is the kingpin of Mexican arbitration’

‘Adrián Magallanes is one of the most promising young arbitrators in Mexico. His mental quickness is astonishing’

‘Montserrat Manzano is not only brilliant and astute, she is also a defender of the diversity cause, while at the same time delivering excellent and high quality work for her clients’

‘Very prestigious arbitration team with strong experience in handling large and complex arbitrations’

‘Adrian Magallanes is a towering presence in Mexico for arbitration. He is exceptionally bright, a quick thinker and possesses excellent writing and advocacy skills. Clearly the first choice as counsel for arbitration in Mexico’

‘They are the best in Mexico. Excellent youth and diversity’

Key clients

IENOVA

Ingenieros Civiles Asociados (ICA)

AB InBev – Cervecería Modelo

BMW

ICA Fluor

Dal-Tile

Saavi Energía

Invenergy

Siemens Energy

Mitsubishi

Magna International

Work highlights

  • Acting as co-counsel (alongside Sullivan & Cromwell LLP) to Sempra Energy subsidiary Energía Costa Azul in an $800m ICC arbitration proceedings seated in Toronto, Canada, against two of the world’s foremost natural gas exporters (one of which is Shell).
  • Representing Mexican infrastructure group ICA in an ICC arbitration worth over $400m; seated in Mexico City, the issue arose out of a shareholders’ agreement.  
  • Acted for IENova (as both claimant and respondent) in various arbitrations seated in Mexico City (both ICC and LCIA), against the Mexican Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) deriving from a more than $842m dispute.  

Wöss & Partners

Specialist boutique, Wöss & Partners houses a ‘superb team who are legally brilliant, commercially savvy and an absolute pleasure to work with’. It focuses on international arbitration, damages, infrastructure, energy and trade law, and is highly specialised in commercial and investment arbitration, and dispute settlement procedures under NAFTA and before the World Trade Organization. Hugely experienced name partner Herfried Wöss recently acted as arbitrator in five cases, including a $200m LCIA dispute; as an expert in a $100m case ICC case in Peru; and as 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 her expert opinion; acting as party counsel to defendant Tractebel (Engie/GDF Suez), in a $400m energy-tariff damages arbitration; and most recently, defending a European energy conglomerate in a $240m ICC arbitration, successfully obtaining a significant part of the counterclaim plus the costs of the 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. Carlos Rodríguez Sámano, former general counsel at Gas Natural Fenosa, brings additional expertise, especially regarding the energy sector.

Practice head(s):

Herfried Wöss

Testimonials

‘Herfried Wöss and Christian Cabajal are, simply put, as good as it gets, globally’

‘A superb team who are legally brilliant, commercially savvy and an absolute pleasure to work with. Their legal experience, knowledge, expertise and acumen is world class.Plus operating seamlessly in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German. Brilliant’

‘Herfried Wöss is a world leading lawyer and expert on complex damages — he literally re-wrote the book on damages in today’s multi-jurisdictional disputes landscape’

‘When dealing with Herfried, he is always 10 steps ahead of the issue, ahead of my thinking and provides solutions at each turn. ’

‘Herfried Woss and Adriana San Roman are probably the foremost lawyers in the field of damages calculation. They have trained members of the federal judiciary and served as experts in relevant cases. Impeccable reputation and ability.’

‘Despite being a boutique, they are fully capable of competing with international firms (multipractice) and other boutiques specialising in arbitration’

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

The arrival of senior market authority Thomas Heather is the latest addition to Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enríquez, S.C.'s arbitration practice, which mixes ‘great experience with very talented youngsters’, and for some is already ‘one of the top and most sophisticated teams in Mexico’. Heather is now in charge of steering the practice together with of counsel, and former vice president of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Bernardo Sepúlveda. They both bring seasoned expertise to an arbitral practice focused primarily on commercial and investor-State work. Key senior practitioners include counsels Carlos Martínez Betanzos, who combines knowledge with ‘carefully crafted litigation and arbitration skills’, and 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. Among the practice group's second line of advisors, senior associate Luis Jardón is a stand out figure.

Practice head(s):

Bernardo Sepulveda Amor; Thomas Heather

Testimonials

‘Creel is a domestic and international powerhouse. Carlos Martínez is a very skilled arbitration practitioner and advocate. Hs combines deep knowledge of the underlying transactions with carefully crafted litigation and arbitration skills.’

‘The team mixes great experience with very talented youngsters. Hector Anaya Mondragon is a rising star’

‘Highly available, they are creative and come up with good ideas. They exceed the good expectations generated. The service offered is outstanding. Luis Jardón and Leonel Pereznieto stand out in particular. Both have a deep knowledge of the arbitral scene in Mexico.’

‘The practice is led by two giants in the field in Mexico like Bernardo Sepulveda and Thom Heather. They have a broad range of experience in both public international law/investor-state disputes and commercial arbitrations.’

‘A a very developed, experienced and respected international arbitration practice. Luis Jardón is an extremely reliable and prepared professional. He is the go-to lawyer for complex international arbitration matters in Mexico.’

‘It is a team of the highest standard in every way. Their writing and promotions are impeccable.’

‘Carlos Martinez and Luis Jardon have great experience in both commercial and investment arbitration. They have done an excellent job in an investment case in which we are co-counsel’.

‘The arbitration team has consolidated into one of the top and most sophisticated teams in Mexico, offering both top commercial and ISDS capabilities. Carlos Martinez stands out for his leadership and his unique international experience.’

Key clients

Legacy Vulcan (subsidiary of Vulcan Materials Company)

Live Nation Entertainment

Work highlights

  • Advising Legacy Vulcan in a “high-profile” NAFTA arbitration before ICSID against Mexico, as co-counsel with Covington & Burling.  
  • Advising Live Nation Entertainment as co-counsel with Latham & Watkins LLP, in an ICC arbitration over the termination of a $462m deal to acquire a majority stake in a Mexican promoter (the respondent).
  • Bernardo Sepúlveda is member of the Annulment Committee on the proceedings to annul an award issued by an investment Tribunal under the ICSID Convention and Arbitration Rules; the subject matter of the dispute involves natural gas liquefaction operations.

DLA Piper Gallastegui y Lozano

The five-strong team at DLA Piper Gallastegui y Lozano is fronted by senior partner Gerardo Lozano Alarcón, who according to a client is ‘probably the best arbitrator in Mexico’. The practice enjoys a solid, 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. Lozano, who has truly extensive experience as an ICC arbitrator and acting before ICDR, UNICITRAL, ICC and LCIA tribunals, co-heads the practice in conjunction with Kate Brown de Vejar, global chair of the firm’s international arbitration practice. The team was further reinforced with the July-2021 arrival of former ICSID counsel, Gabriela Álvarez Ávila, from Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle S.C..

Practice head(s):

Kate Brown de Vejar; Gerardo Lozano Alarcón

Testimonials

‘They are very thorough and sharp at their game. Gerardo Lozano is probably the best arbitrator in Mexico. He is very bright and is always very well prepared.’

Work highlights

  • Representing a US energy giant in a $30m Mexican-law LCIA arbitration against the principal contractor in a dispute arising out of the electromechanical works fn a hydroelectric project in Mexico.
  • Representing a retail sector client in a Spanish-language ICC arbitration seated in Mexico City and arising out of a long term contract for the supply of hydro-electricity.
  • Advising a major investor in Odyssey Marine Exploration in connection with its $3.5bn NAFTA claim against Mexico.

Galicia Abogados S.C.

Galicia Abogados S.C. houses a 16-strong ‘multidisciplinary group of experts who bring great value to highly complex disputes’. Partners Rodrigo Zamora, who specializes in commercial litigation and arbitration and boasts extensive experience as both counsel and arbitrator; and Cecilia Azar who understands ‘complex issues like no one else in the market, and also garners praise for her ‘unparalleled analytical mind’, co-head the department. As Azar's roles as current president of Instituto Mexicano de Arbitraje and vice president of the ICC’s Mexico Arbitration Commission would suggest, she is fully dedicated to arbitration - particularly in relation to the energy, infrastructure and construction sectors. Key support comes from dedicated senior associates Paola Aldrete (domestic and international commercial arbitration -institutional & ad hoc- particularly relating to construction, infrastructure and shareholder’s disputes) who acts as tribunal secretary or sole arbitrator, as well as counsel; and José Antonio Casas (primarily, international commercial arbitration and litigation related to construction, energy, hydrocarbons contracts and corporate disputes). The team was further strengthened with the hire of senior associate Arturo Rivera Méndez from Santamarina y Steta in July 2021.

Practice head(s):

Rodrigo Zamora; Cecilia Azar

Testimonials

‘Galicia’s team has an uncanny ability to respond quickly to complex issues and a deep knowledge of the subjects they work on. It is a team made up mostly of women and they have a fee schedule geared towards client satisfaction.’

‘Ceci Azar has an ability to understand technical and complex issues like no one else in the market, as well as an unparalleled analytical mind.’

‘They are a multidisciplinary group of experts who bring great value to highly complex disputes. They get involved from the most general to the last detail to understand disputes in depth. They have a strong ethical sense.’

Key clients

Chicoasén (consortium of three Mexican and one Costa Rican construction companies, and a state-owned energy company)

Work highlights

  • Counsel for the claimant, the Chicoasén consortium, in an arbitration derived from a construction agreement for a hydroelectric plant that was executed by a consortium of three Mexican and one Costa Rican construction companies together with  Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).

White & Case S.C.

Earning plaudits for his ’extensive knowledge of the subject matter’, partner Rafael Llano is a well-known figure in international arbitration circles and known for his extensive ICC and ICSID expertise -particularly in relation to Peru and Paraguay. He heads the 11-strong practice at White & Case S.C.'s Mexico office, where recent highlights have seen the team acting as counsel to Telefónica in a $450m case against the Republic of Colombia. The local practice group also has particular strength in finance-related arbitration, handled by Enrique Espejel, and in the energy sector, with Francisco De Rosenzweig and Jorge Kim; but also works seamlessly with the firm's stellar global practice, particularly with regional practice-head Jonathan Hamilton. Currently on secondment at the Mexico City office, international associate Mariele Coulet Díaz is a name to note.

Practice head(s):

Rafael Llano

Testimonials

‘The team that supported us had extensive experience. Rafael Llano demonstrated extensive knowledge of the subject matter’

Key clients

Telefónica SA

Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA)

The Republic of Peru (Multiple Disputes)

Work highlights

  • Representing Telefonica in ICSID arbitration under the Spain-Colombia BIT, arising from a dispute in connection with the reversion of its assets in a telecoms concession.
  • Representation of Daniel W Kappes and Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA), in an ICSID arbitration.
  • Representation of the Republic of Peru in various high-profile matters.

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

Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle S.C.'s Mexican arbitration practice is renowned for its expertise in handling investor-State arbitration, although, over the last few years it has successfully expanded its ‘excellent work and skills’ in that area to its growing commercial arbitration practice. The practice endured the departure of department co-head Gabriela Álvarez-Ávila, who moved to DLA Piper Gallastegui y Lozano in July 2021, so the local team is now led by oil, gas and power arbitration-specialist Eloy Barbará de Parres, who is closely supported by disputes specialists in the firm’s Washington, D.C. (particularly managing partner Claudia Frutos-Peterson) and Geneva offices. The practice is currently representing the Republic of Venezuela in two ICSID proceedings (against ConocoPhillips and Universal Compression International), as well as a third case under UNCITRAL rules.

Practice head(s):

Eloy Barbará de Parres

Testimonials

‘They started with great strength in handling investor-state arbitrations. They have now started to get involved in commercial arbitration and have successfully transferred their excellent work and skills to that area. They have a great future ahead of them.’

‘Claudia Frutos combines commercial and investor-state practice in a very flexible way. She is an extraordinary lawyer with great dedication.’

‘The firm with most experience in investor-state disputes.’

Key clients

Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Dominican Republic

FROB

Colombia

Republic of Panama

Work highlights

  • Representing the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in ICSID arbitration against ConocoPhillips; the companies’ original demand for damages was $30bn.  
  • Representing the Dominican Republic against a claim by a Jamaican company concerning a dispute over a waste disposal facility.
  • Representing FROB in a case involving 54 Mexican individuals and legal entities under the Spain-Mexico BIT after the resolution and subsequent sale of Banco Popular.

Pérez Correa González

Pérez Correa González (PCG) boasts a 13-strong arbitration practice with a wealth of experience in disputes concerning a broad range of commercial matters, but demonstrating particular prowess in power and construction disputes, and contentious post M&A-closing matters, as well as judicial procedures concerning the enforcement and annulment of arbitration awards. The entire disputes team (with the exception of senior associate Arturo Rivera Mendez, who moved to Santamarina y Steta in November 2020) transferred from the former Solcargo to successor firm PCG where it continues to be led by senior partner Fernando Pérez Correa. With over 25 years' experience, Correa is an accomplished lead counsel in investment and commercial arbitration and also acts as arbitrator. Fellow partner José Covarrubias handles both investment and commercial matters, and is also experienced in arbitration-related judicial proceedings and enforcement and annulment matters.

Practice head(s):

Fernando Pérez Correa; José Covarrubias

Testimonials

‘They are very professional, efficient and knowledgeable. They have an interesting angle to approach the topics.’

‘Fernando Pérez Correa has many years of experience, great knowledge of the matter, and very complete and original vision. Jose Covarrubias is a very intelligent and dynamic lawyer. Very dedicated and careful with detail.’

Key clients

Comisión Federal de Electricidad

Japan Tobacco International

Exportadora de Sal

Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes

Crowley Technical Management

G 500 Group

Abengoa

CFEnergia

Work highlights

  • Acted as lead counsel ito the Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes in several complex proceedings related to an ad hoc arbitration brought by the operator of an International Bridge.
  • Represented Crowley Technical Management in an arbitration conducted under the rules of the Society of Maritime Arbitrators; and subsequent oongoing representation in judicial proceedings for the enforcement of the award in Mexico (and other related procedures).
  • Representing Exportadora de Sal in  proceedings seeking the annulment of an Arbitration Centre of Mexico award of over $5m award, or the rejection of its enforcement.

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. The result has been the development of particular expertise in construction related arbitration and dispute boards. Key figure, senior partner and practice head Roberto Hernandez 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.

Practice head(s):

Roberto Hernández Garcia; Maria Isabel Rodriguez

Testimonials

‘The firm has extensive knowledge of the processes used by the tribunal, which was of great advantage in navigating the various steps to be taken during the arbitration.’

‘Roberto Hernandez and Isabel Rodriguez have been invaluable in the resolution of the arbitration.’

Key clients

Gilbane Alberici

Turner Construction

BurnsMcDonnell

Gray Construction

Ferrocarril Interurbano

Callison CRTKL

IBM

Johnson Controls

Irongate (Costa Palmas )

Serintra

Vinci Yes

Strobel Ene

Work highlights

  • Represented Parsons Corporation in two international arbitrations at the ICC, in connection with multimillion-dollar disputes related to the construction management of the New Mexico City International Airport.
  • Roberto Hernández acted as dispute board member in two DAB panels in connection with the construction of two sport facilities for the Lima 2019 Panamerican and Para panamerican games.
  • Roberto Hernández acted as dispute board member in in connection with the construction of a relevant highway in El Salvador.

Cuatrecasas

Partner René Irra heads the five-strong international arbitration department at Cuatrecasas Mexico; he has a solid track record in court proceedings and international arbitrations carried out under institutional and ad hoc rules, and acts as counsel, arbitrator and expert in Mexican law in proceedings outside of Mexico. The practice group, which can also draw on the resources of the firm´s other international offices (notably, the team in Santiago, Chile), has a particular focus in energy work, mainly electricity, oil and gas, and also infrastructure related arbitrations. Associate Miguel Ángel Ortiz, formerly director general for contentious matters at the National Hydrocarbons Commission and previously head of legal for arbitral matters at Pemex, is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Rene Irra

Holland & Knight

Holland & Knight 's Mexico office houses a seven-strong practice that is highlighted by clients for having a ‘great deal of knowledge in arbitration’; its expertise is frequently sought out in relation to investment disputes and matters that have public international law or multijurisdictional components that require the application and interpretation of the laws of different countries. With skilled partner Carlos Vejar at the helm, the team handles primarily commercial arbitration, with an additional mix of construction, investment treaty and NAFTA-related disputes. In addition to being backed by the firm´s international network, at a local level Vejar works closely with partner Luis Rubio; associate Juan Pablo Moyano and international semi-senior Laura Yvonne Zielinski, who is France and New York qualified. The practice is still in the midst of a process of rearming after the departure of former department-head Salvador Fonseca in June 2020 but has been boosted - particularly on the energy side - by the August 2021 merger with Thompson and Knight.

Practice head(s):

Carlos Véjar; Luis Rubio

Testimonials

‘It is a team with a great deal of knowledge in arbitration. The team is made up of lawyers from various countries, who are very knowledgeable about arbitration both in terms of knowledge and experience in many arbitrations.’

‘The collaboration within the team is admirable, because they take advantage of their lawyers for interaction.’

‘Alberto Zuleta [in Bogotá] and Laura Zielinski bring their knowledge, skills and personalities to complement each other excellently. They demonstrate absolute mastery of arbitration both in terms of knowledge and experience’

‘Carlos Vejar is skilled in investor state cases and for trade related matters. Juan Pablo Moyano is a rising star in commercial disputes’

‘Carlos Vejar has extensive experience from the government and private-sector perspectives on investor-state arbitration’

Key clients

Eutelsat

Work highlights

  • Rrepresenting Eutelsay in an ICSID Additional Facility investment arbitration against the Mexican government regarding a satellite concession; one of the first three investment arbitrations worldwide to arise in the satellite industry.

Ritch, Mueller y Nicolau, S.C.

Following the January 2021 departure of former practice-head, and renowned arbitrator, Thomas Heather, Ritch, Mueller y Nicolau, S.C. has undergone a process of reorganising its practice. The department is now led by partner Jorge Oria y Anaya, whose arbitral focus is primarily on energy and infrastructure project matters. He is closely supported by senior associate Adriana Padilla who -while not solely dedicated to arbitration- has over ten years' experience, particularly in CAM and ICC cases. Intermediate Ana Gabriela Martínez Kruyff is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Jorge Oria y Anaya