Twitter Logo Youtube Circle Icon LinkedIn Icon

Panama > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Doing Business in Panama

Contributed by EY Law Central America

Doing Business in Panama graphic


Over the past decade, Panama has been one of the fastest growing economies worldwide. The Panamanian economy and its banking system have been known internationally over the years as one of the most solid systems in the continent. One of the main components for this economic solidity is the steady growth of the GDP, which reached an average of 5.3% since the mid-1990s until the beginning of the decade of 2016, and has not had contractions since 1988.
According to the world competitiveness ranking of the World Economic Forum, Panama is the most competitive economy after Chile, and consolidates its top position in Central America.

Read more…

Despite the fact that presidential elections are not due until 2019, associated political and economic uncertainties have already contributed to a slackening of the country’s investment environment. Moreover, the recent decision by the US to approve the extradition of former President Martinelli has thrown an additional, potentially destabilizing factor into the mix. Nevertheless, there have been a few significant transactions that have kept law firms busy and the establishment of diplomatic relations with China in June 2017 has unleashed a wave of interest from Chinese investors seeking to establish themselves in the county, and beyond that, in Central America as a whole. Negotiations regarding a free-trade deal are scheduled to take place in June 2018.

In the legal market, the Panamanian shipping sector has already reaped the first fruits of this economic rapprochement; an agreement on maritime transport signed in late 2017 seeks to improve passenger and cargo traffic, as well as maritime facilities and ports in the two countries. Furthermore, China awarded Panama ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status, which grants vessels under Panamanian flag lower port costs and more time-efficient procedures related to the registration of vessels and ship mortgages in China. Traditionally one of the key income streams of the country, the completion of the Panama Canal has also significantly boosted revenues stemming from shipping and trade-related work, although the current threat of a global trade war sparked by US protectionism is a further preoccupation.

The offshore sector in Panama is showing its first signs of recovery since the 2015 leak of some 11.5m documents, commonly referred to as the Panama Papers. However, the law firm at the centre of the scandal, Mossack Fonseca, announced the winding-up of all its operations by the end of March 2018, listing reputational damage, the media campaign and actions by Panamanian authorities among the reasons for its closure.

Partly as a result of the Panama Papers imbroglio, the local legal market has also sought to improve its regulatory framework. In 2017, a set of new regulations was introduced, including new guidelines pertaining to public offerings, as well as the regulation and supervision of trustees and trust businesses. In April 2018, the Ministry of Economics and Finance submitted a bill to the National Assembly, targeting a modernisation of the International Financial Centre of the Republic of Panama, in order improve its competitiveness and efficiency.

The domestic legal market is still largely dominated by well-known, full-service domestic firms –such as Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee, Arias, Fábrega & Fábrega, Morgan & Morgan and Galindo, Arias & López– with the specificity of the Panamanian jurisdiction as yet making it largely resistant to the lure of regionalization seen elsewhere in Central America. Nevertheless, the legal landscape has seen modifications in an increasingly competitive market. Notable movements include the 2017 division of market-leading IP firm Benedetti & Benedetti into the Estudio Benedetti, which will remain strictly focused on intellectual property matters, and Central Law, which, retaining membership of the Central Law regional alliance, will look to broaden its service offering. In another significant development, Fabrega Molino strengthened its corporate and M&A department as a result of its early-2018 merger with Kuzniecky & Co, a boutique firm originally established in 1995. Other movements saw former president of Panama’s Supreme Court, arbitration and litigation specialist Graciela Dixon Caton, join the boutique firm Britton & Iglesias (founded in 2015), as of counsel.

The In-House Lawyer

International comparative guides

In association with a leading international law firm, Legalease are producing a series of online country comparative legal guides, designed to give the in-house community greater insight to the law and regulations in unfamiliar jurisdictions.

International comparative guides

Giving the in-house community greater insight to the law and regulations in different jurisdictions.

Select Practice Area

Press releases

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to

Legal Developments worldwide

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • The Cayman Islands Data Protection Law, 2017

    The following information relates to the enactment of The Cayman Islands Data Protection Law, 2017 (" DPL "), which was expected to come into force on 29 January 2019, will now come into force in September 2019. The DPL will regulate the future processing of all personal data in the Cayman Islands.
  • The Mutual Funds Law (2019 Revision)

    The following information relates to the enactment of The Mutual Funds Law (2019 Revision) and the subsequent commencement of related sections of The Mutual Funds (Amendment) Law 2015. The changes require certain funds to notify the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority if they are active in EU jurisdictions.
  • Stuarts Success - Case Review: Toby -v- Allianz Global Risks US Insurance Company

    Toby –v- Allianz Global Risks US Insurance Company, FSD 152 of 2013 (IMJ), Judgment delivered on 29 August 2018
  • Security Token Offerings in the Cayman Islands

    Security Token Offerings (“STOs”) are an extremely popular means of fundraising for new projects and utilise blockchain technology to do so. Whilst no specific legislation has been passed by the Cayman Islands Government in connection with STOs and cryptocurrencies, it would be incorrect to say that STOs are “unregulated”.

    Black Friday is unquestionable one of the most profitable and busiest days of the year for retail, particularly online. Worldwide almost all online store do offer sales or special promotions on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Already after this practice has established online, a trademark for " BLACK FRIDAY " was registered in Germany back in 2013. In 2016 a Chinese company acquired the trademark and then filed in 2017 for its extension to Austria. Based on the registered trademark, it granted exclusive rights to an Austrian company, which licensed usage rights to various partner stores against remuneration. Further, an exclusive " Black Friday-Cooperation Program " was established. Non-partners who used the event name or trademark were prosecuted and requested to either pay a license fee or refrain from running Black Friday promotions. Some followed the request and entered into license agreements. Some, however, did challenge the validity of the trademark. Finally, respective proceedings to check the actual protection of the trademark were initiated. Austrian courts now held that the trademark " BLACK FRIDAY " is not protected in Austria .
    - Dorda
  • The Zero Carbon Bill - a closer look

    ​​​​The long-awaited "Zero Carbon Bill" was finally released on 9 May, but despite being greeted by considerable media interest there are a number of significant issues that have yet to come to the fore.
  • A link tax in New Zealand?

    ​​​​A controversial payment to publishers for content in Europe has implications for New Zealand – despite escaping mention in a recent paper that set out the key issues for review for our own copyright laws.
  • News media exemption under the Privacy Act: now a matter of "responsibility"?

    The role of the news media as the "eyes and ears" of the public, and the corresponding right of such news media to be exempted from the Privacy Act 1993 ( Privacy Act ), is entrenched and well accepted. However, the extent to which the news media exemption applies to non-traditional forms of "news" published by "civilian journalists", such as online commentary and blogs, is a hotly debated subject.
  • Quarterly Update on Trade Defense Cases in Turkey (June 2019)

    The authority to initiate dumping or subsidy examinations, upon complaint or, where necessary, ex officio , has been given from the Ministry of Economy to the Ministry of Trade ("Ministry"). Within the scope of this authority, the Ministry announces its decisions with the communiqués published on the Official Gazette.
  • Company Formations - A jurisdictional guide to setting up a business

    The following article contains the Foreword in the IR Global Virtual Series brochure on 'Company Formations - A jurisdictional guide to setting up a business'.

Press Releases worldwide

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to