Legal Market Overview
2021 saw Paraguay’s economy recover somewhat from the dual hits of drought in 2019 and the onset of the pandemic in 2020, but the latter part of the year did see a slowdown as drought once again became an issue, combined with increased global commodity prices.
One of the factors bolstering the country’s economic recovery has been its investment in construction, and in turn the legal landscape has seen a host of varied real estate financing projects. The wider financing sphere is seeing increasingly complex structures becoming more common and the leading firms in banking and finance have had more work in the domestic market as a result.
Labour law practices have seen a steady flow of work relating to both incorporations and dissolutions from international companies in Paraguay. The domestic market has needed advice on home working implementation, while there is still a good amount of contentious and advisory work borne of the pandemic lockdowns.
The landscape of dispute resolution has been dominated by contractual issues, most often distribution contracts, with the pandemic and then global supply chain problems throwing up a host of contentious matters. Arbitration is slowly becoming more popular but litigation remains the more common method, with about three quarters of disputes resolved in the courts.
In tax, transfer pricing rules were implemented as of January 2021 and the top tax law practices have seen a lot of work from multinationals advising on this, in addition to their general compliance assistance.
The local legal market has been stable in recent years and a group of full-service law firms handle the majority of the complex, cross-border matters in most areas. Regional giant Ferrere is now thoroughly established in the country, while domestic firms Estudio Jurídico Gross Brown, BKM | Berkemeyer and Vouga Abogados all offer robust services across the range of practice areas, growing year-on-year. The most notable piece of news was the formation of Colab, a new venture from four lawyers previously working at Estudio Jurídico Gross Brown. The new firm is looking to bring a new approach to legal services in the country, which – while it has undergone significant modernisation over the last 10-15 years (largely as a result of the challenge presented by the original arrival of Ferrere), remains primarily dominated by traditional ‘family firms’. Other developments saw the arrival of US legal network Bolton.Boyer, which has opened an office under the direction of senior partner Gustavo Liesegang and country manager Caroline Casseli.
Other firms with a broad service offering include Peroni Sosa Tellechea Burt & Narvaja, Moreno Ruffinelli & Asociados, Olmedo Abogados and Mersán Abogados. Paraguay also counts a number of notable boutique practices, standout names including SEA Abogados y Consultores Ambientales (environment), Irún & Villamayor (labour) and Abente Stewart (intellectual property). Parquet & Asociados is the firm to note for public bodies and dealings with state entities.