Law Firm Directory

Browse all firms with extended profiles for Nicaragua

Legal Market Overview

The Nicaraguan market continues to be rocked by economic uncertainty and political instability.

‘It’s not easy to denounce my country’s dictatorship – but to carry on in silence and defending the indefensible is impossible,’ declared Arturo McFields Yescas, Nicaragua’s ambassador to the Organization of American States, in March 2022, in a now-viral condemnation of the government of President Daniel Ortega and his Vice President and First Lady Rosario Murillo. The ambassador was referring to the anti-Ortega protests of April 2018 and the violent government crackdown (which left at least 300 dead and over 100,000 fleeing persecution).

His explosive comments arrived two days after Cristiana Chamorro, Ortega’s main challenger in the November 2021 presidential elections, was sentenced to eight years in prison on money laundering charges, along with her brother (Chamorro and her brother are the children of former President Violeta Chamorro, who defeated Ortega in the 1990 elections).

The move followed the May 2021 motion by the country’s congress, which is controlled by Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front, to choose new members of the Supreme Electoral Council, in order to push up the deadline to register political alliances and hobble any potential opposition coalitions.

In response to the elections (which President Biden called a ‘pantomime’), the US government imposed sanctions against the Nicaraguan Public Ministry and nine government officials. In December 2021, Nicaragua responded to the sanctions by severing its relationship with Taiwan and re-establishing ties with China, opening up potential channels for foreign and direct investment, the full effect of which has yet to be seen in the legal market.

In the corporate and finance space, firms reported a renewed focus on due diligence and antitrust matters, in addition to clearance work for state-owned companies in the wake of the US sanctions.

In the energy and natural resources sphere, firms had seen little movement, although there is a continued push by the government to promote the energy sector by extending tax incentives, as it seeks to find partners for offshore drilling for upstream hydrocarbons. The team at Arias has remained strongest in this area, with managing partner Ana Teresa Rizo  recently having served as lead counsel to US-based New Fortress Energy in relation to its construction of a $700m natural gas plant.

On the dispute resolution front, firms reported a rise in tax litigation and labour matters. Firms foresee a weak economy leading to more citizens having issues with credit line payments.

In intellectual property, firms indicated a reduction in the number of filings, with clients affected by the pandemic being more measured in selecting which trade marks and brands to protect. But, as Covid-19 has also had the knock-on effect of leading to a rise in pharmaceutical patents, firms anticipate a more active year ahead.

There were no surprises this year in terms of firm performance. Many regional firms are active in the Nicaraguan market, most notably Arias, Consortium Legal, García & Bodán, BLP, Lexincorp and Central Law Nicaragua. Global firms Dentons Muñoz and ECIJA Castillo & Fiallos have also continued to consolidate their presence in the market. Full-service domestic firm Alvarado y Asociados and boutique Guy José Bendaña-Guerrero & Asociados, which continues to be a market force for IP matters, are also key players.