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18 April 2018 marked the beginning of a socio-political crisis in Nicaragua. Autocratic president Daniel Ortega announced his intention to increase taxes and decrease benefits, prompting severe protests in a country which was already in a state of turmoil. Demonstrations in the capital of Managua and in six other cities were met with police brutality, causing more than 300 casualties to date. The Nicaraguan economy was hit hard, as most foreign investors and governments that had previously funded desperately needed infrastructure and development projects halted or withdrew their plans altogether. After the recovery from the global financial crisis of 2008/2009, the Nicaraguan economy had been able to register a steady GDP growth of more than 4% per year but in light of the recent developments, the economy has started to shrink drastically: the World Bank estimates a GDP growth of -3.8% for 2018 and forecasts -5% for 2019.

As a result, the legal market was forced to adapt to new requirements. The hesitant business environment had a major impact on the real estate sector. The usual demand for tourism and residential properties has gone completely dry and firms also noticed a considerable reduction of infrastructure projects. The majority of clients are instead opting to sell their properties in Nicaragua, which in turn has caused a drastic price fall of approximately 20-30%.

In general, legal services are in high demand in troubled waters: law firms report a sudden increase in disputes and litigation. In terms of the financial market, Nicaragua witnessed the first defaults of issuances in the market’s history. Furthermore, there has been unusually high demand for assistance with debt collections and related judiciary proceedings. Industry sectors oriented towards exports were hit less hard, with the agribusiness sector, for instance, continuing operations at a steady rate. Similarly, intellectual property practices are not suffering as much from the crisis – international firms remain keen on protecting their intellectual property rights and do not need a local presence to do so. For many Nicaraguan companies, though, protecting their intellectual property is a luxury they can no longer afford.

As it stands, damage control is key in order not to disrupt the already fragile economy further. Although a national dialogue is well underway, no solution is in sight so far and the situation in Nicaragua remains volatile.

The small, mixed market sees local heavyweights such as Alvarado y Asociados and boutiques including Guy José Bendaña-Guerrero & Asociados, Bendaña & Bendaña and Estudio Caldera, S.A. participating alongside regional players such as Consortium Legal, Arias and García & Bodán. Following the socio-political convulsions of the last 18 months, while the main players in the legal market are operating unchanged, most are to some extent looking primarily at retaining their staff and offices in the country. Bucking the trend, however, was Dentons Muñoz, the Central American arm of the global legal behemoth. Opening its doors under the leadership of Edgard Torres in October 2018, with one associate and three of counsel, the firm then hired Mayra Navarrete from García & Bodán in November 2018 (as head of IP & technology), and has subsequently strengthened the team even further with the mid-2019 incorporation of experienced litigator Oliver Salazar and senior associate Gabriel Alvarado. Other notable market moves saw Expertis Castillo & Fiallos join ECIJA's growing Ibero-Americas network in mid-2018.

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Legal Developments in Nicaragua

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • Policies for Water Resources in Nicaragua

    Every day, we become more aware of the importance of protect- ing our environment, climate changes occurring on an almost daily basis have made that need clear. It is for this reason, that even though it is of upmost importance that we protect all of our natural resources, water as a finite life source is one of the most important and one of the resources requiring the most protection and preservation.
  • The Regulation of Investment Companies in Nicaragua

    Having our legislation reserved a space for forty-five years for a proper regulation of Investment Companies, since the adoption of the Special Law on Financial Companies, Investment and others, known as Decree 15-L of April 9, 1970, and various attempts along these years; today Nicaragua has a legal body that regulates such companies satisfactorily.
  • Legal Relevance of Trademark Registration and Use

    Over the years, trademark registration processes have increased in Nicaragua, as a result of different international conventions and treaties which collaborate to properly understand trademark registration process and use matter; besides, Law N° 380 “Law on Trademark and Other Distinctive Signs”, its regulation and the Intellectual Property Registry, consolidates the bases for a better legal protection for businessmen and consumers IP´ s related matters, providing them not only with legal protection, but also with the confidence to compete and offer their goods and services on the market.
  • Electronic Money in Nicaragua: Amalgamating technology, law and business

    In humanity ́s never-ending quest for improvement, technology plays a significant role as to the development of tools, production of devices and equipment, the upgrading of techniques, skills and processes which, in general, lead to the accomplishment of higher and higher goals that impact or influence our lives in different ways.
  • From the Depths of the Earth…

    …to the top of business, Nicaragua has witnessed the growth, development and progress of the mining industry in the recent years. According to information available on the Nicaraguan Mining Authority´s official website, there are more than 50 important mining-related projects representing more than 60 million dollars in investments, with worldwide investors including companies from China, Canada, United States, Peru, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, Japan, United Kingdom and others.
  • Basic Labor Benefits Required by the Current Nicaraguan Law

    As a lawyer at Alvarado y Asociados in Nicaragua, I have had the opportunity to assist many investors that want to incorporate a company in this country.
  • Arbitration in Nicaragua

    Among the alternative means of dispute resolution, arbitration in commercial relations is a figure that over the years has been gaining territory over conflict resolution in the courts. Arbitration is a procedure by which the appointed arbitrators issue a binding decision on the parties in a dispute named award, which allows any differences raised in trade relations to be solved in a friendly, quick and impartial manner.
  • Arbitration in Nicaragua

    Among the alternative means of dispute resolution, arbitration in commercial relations is a figure that over the years has been gaining territory over conflict resolution in the courts. Arbitration is a procedure by which the appointed arbitrators issue a binding decision on the parties in a dispute named award, which allows any differences raised in trade relations to be solved in a friendly, quick and impartial manner.  Arbitration in Nicaragua
  • The legal difference between a consultant and an employee according to Nicaraguan Law

    Knowing the legal difference between a consultant and an employee is important for a company that needs to hire someone in Nicaragua or for a person interested in rendering services for a company or another person, due to the fact that the nature of the contractual relationship will determine many factors that both parties must be aware of before executing the contracting modality that will govern the relationship between them - the nature of the contractual relationship impacts on the employment benefits, tax implications and liabilities that the parties must comply with according to the law.  labor_law_in_nicaragua
  • Single director - shareholder Companies according to the Nicaraguan legal system

    What is a Single Shareholder and Director legal entity?

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