Dispute resolution in Philippines
One of the major disputes firms in the Philippines, Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALaw)'s extensive and wide-ranging practice encompasses complex commercial disputes, crime, competition and environmental issues. Bringing claims against public bodies, often in the Supreme Court, is an area of particular specialism and in 2019 the firm represented Manila Electric Company in a dispute relating to issuances by the Energy Regulatory Commission. The group also has a strong arbitration practice; Jose Martin R Tensuan handles disputes before the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission regarding airports and expressways. Arnold M Corporal is particularly active in disputes in the energy, telecoms and media sectors. Leland R Villadolid, Jr. handles technology-related issues including cybercrime and cyber security. Victor Lazatin is also noted.
Manila Electric Company
Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation
Chevron Philippines, Inc.
The Philippine Star
Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company
Banco de Oro Unibank, Inc.
TV5 Network Inc.
Smart Communications, Inc.
Iglesia Ni Cristo
CoStar Group, Inc.
SM Prime Holdings, Inc.
D.M. Consunji, Inc.
Sanofi Pasteur, Inc.
- Advised PLDT, Inc. on its remedies against the act of the Philippine Competition Commission in disregarding the deemed approved status of the Sale and Purchase Agreement entered into by PLDT and Globe and San Miguel Corporation (“SMC”) for the sale and purchase of the entire issued and outstanding capital stock of VTI, a subsidiary of SMC.
- Acted for Landing International Development Limited in the recovery of the advance payments made by the client for the lease of a property owned by Nayong Pilipino Foundation Inc.
- Advised Transaction Network Services’ on the application for Value Added Services Registration with the National Telecommunications Commission.
Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia has a first-rate disputes practice, and its practitioners are 'experts in their fields' of commercial, tax and administrative dispute resolution. The commercial litigation practice is particularly notable for advising large, multinational fast food chains in contractual disputes, while the firm also has a first-class tax group, regularly advising on multibillion-peso tax assessment reversals. John Jerico Balisnomo leads the team and handles public sector governance matters alongside Simeon Marcelo, who previously served as solicitor general for the Philippines and frequently brings administrative claims against public bodies in the Supreme Court. Rodel Cruz represents several industry-wide organisations in strategic matters in the shipping, agricultural and aviation sectors. The group is also notable for its pro bono work, advising on public interest cases and disputes of national consequence. Miguel Silos is another name to note.
Other key lawyers:
Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association
Secur Links Network and Technologies, Inc.
- Acted for Secur Links in a successful arbitration proceeding against the Commission on Higher Education of the Republic of the Philippines for the latter’s continued failure and refusal to pay the total contract price.
- Acted for Unicapital, Inc. in a case against a Philippine corporation involved in medical services, and its then-President and Chief Executive Officer, involving the non-payment of a loan which was incurred through the latter’s false representations.
Poblador Bautista & Reyes
Poblador Bautista & Reyes' disputes practice has a varied caseload that includes contracts, torts, commercial debt collection, product liability, bankruptcy and insolvency. The group also has expertise in criminal prosecution and tax litigation. The firm has a long history of being involved in the most politically sensitive cases; in 2020, a team from the firm, led by Mario Bautista represented ABS-CBN Corporation, the largest broadcaster in the Philippines, after it was forced to cease broadcasting due to the expiry of and refusal to renew its legislative franchise. Founding partner Alexander Poblador is a key practitioner and is active in disputes concerning the energy and infrastructure sector. Gilbert Reyes handles arbitration work.
San Miguel Corporation
San Miguel Holdings Corporation
National Grid Corporation of the Philippines
FDC Misamis Power Corporation
Filinvest Development Corporation
Ayala Group of Companies
Manila Water Co., Inc.
Cemex Holdings Philippines, Inc.
Sycip Gorres & Velayo
Sky Cable Corporation
ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc.
Energy Development Corporation
First Philippine Holdings Group
Malayan Insurance Co., Inc.
Fil-Estate Group of Companies
Global Estate Resorts, Inc.
Metro Rail Transit Corporation
Metro Rail Transit Development Corporation
Camp John Hay Group of Companies
- Represented a major power industry player in its dispute over a concession agreement with two Philippine government-owned and controlled corporations.
- Represented a Philippine company and subsidiary of the largest Philippine conglomerate in its dispute over shares in a Dutch holding company with its Indonesian joint venture partner which was organised in the Cayman Islands.
- Represented ABS-CBN Corporation, a major Philippine broadcasting company, and its telecoms affiliate, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc., in defending against a petition for quo warranto filed by the Office of the Solicitor General with the Supreme Court, to revoke the legislative franchises of these two companies for supposed violations of their franchises and the Constitution.
Part of the Baker Mckenzie global network, Quisumbing Torres handles the complete spectrum of disputes work with 'a personal, warm touch'. On the commercial front, the firm advises large companies and their shareholders on intra-coroprate disputes, partnership and joint venture issues, insolvency and corporate rehabilitation. In addition, the team has a strong criminal practice, advising on white-collar criminal law, fraud, cybercrime and defamation. The group is also one of the few in the country with genuine expertise in arbitration; Eliseo Zuñiga Jr was appointed new practice group head, effective October 2020. Former practice head Donemark Calimon is currently the Secretary General of the Philippine international centre for conflict resolution as well as heading the firm's Industrials, Manufacturing & Transportation Industry Group. Managing partner Ramon Quisumbing is notable for his pro-bono work, and represents one of the world's largest anti-slavery organisations. Marvin Masangkay, promoted to partner in 2020, specialises in the transport and manufacturing sectors. Michael Macapagal is another name to note.
Other key lawyers:
‘There is an effort to really connect and build rapport with their clients while trying to understand our business.’
‘Christina Acaban-Macasaet is an amazing leader who has a comfortable grasp of relevant pharma laws and easily adapts to the needs and concerns of her clients. She is very pragmatic and I see she trains her associates to think the same way. Michael Macapagal is a gifted writer and makes sure all work products are polished, well-researched and excellently drafted. You see the careful crafting of the legal arguments to create complete yet concise arguments. Miguel Galvez and Marvin Masangkay gave us the right dose of pragmatism in mounting a careful yet aggressive approach in our dispute resolution. They gamely answer questions on how to mitigate any risks involved while leveraging on their experience to make sure our interests are robustly defended.‘
Alphabet / Google Philippines Inc.
SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan's disputes team complements its first-rate commercial practice by representing foreign and domestic banks and companies from numerous industries in a full range of contentious commercial matters. The group has a proven track record advising on the largest disputes in the projects and energy sector; a recent highlight is the ongoing representation of Manila Electric Company in an investigation for alleged anti-competitive behaviour and abuse of market power filed in the Philippine Energy Regulatory Commission. Ricardo Ongkiko leads the team, which includes also includes Carlos Lopez, and maintains a varied practice involving contract disputes, restructuring, debt recovery, torts and insurance. John Regalado is one of several members of the team to possess expertise in arbitration, having represented clients in complex, high value disputes before the ICC International Court of Arbitration. Emmanuel Lombos retired as partner in 2020, but continues to advise on disputes in the energy and infrastructure sectors.
Other key lawyers:
First Pacific Company Ltd.
Philex Mining Corporation
Manila Electric Company
Metro Pacific Investments Corporation
Philippine Stock Exchange
Maynilad Water Services, Inc.
Chamber of Mines of the Philippines
Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation
Manila North Tollways Corporation
North Luzon Expressway Corporation
Pacific Ores Metals & Chemicals
Philippine Gold Processing & Refining
Keppel Group of Singapore
Cal Energy / CE Casecnan Water and Energy Co., Inc.
San Roque Power
Ford Motor Company
United Coconut Planters Bank
Bank of America
Export-Import Bank of the United States
Bank of the Philippine Islands
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Makati Medical Center
Asian Hospital and Medical Center
Adelaide and Meath Hospital
Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
AkzoNobel PNG Limited,
Grab Holdings, Inc. (MYTAXI.PH)
Philippine Geothermal Production Co., Inc.
Delta Design Philippines LLC (Cohu)
ACG Automotive Philippines, Inc.
NTT Docomo, Inc.
JLL Mortgage Services Pty. Ltd.
Astronergy Solar Philippines, Inc.
Integrated Marketing Services, Inc.
Johanna Subic Seafoods Corporation
Johanna Seafoods Limited
Nokia Shanghai Bell Co., Ltd.
Globe Telecom, Inc.
KEB Hana Bank
Mabuhay Interflour Mill, Inc.
Huang Hsiang Development Corporation
Prinpia Co., Ltd
Pueblo de Oro Development Corporation
ICCP Land Management Inc.
d&b audiotechnik GmbH
Aspen Philippines, Inc.
BAM International sarl
Firstsource Solutions Limited
Fordays Japan International Inc.
hibu (UK) Limited
Telus International Phils., Inc.
UPS Asia Group Pte Ltd.
Western Mindanao Power Corporation
Western Shipping Pte. Ltd.
- Represented the operator of a major high-grade underground gold and copper mine in court cases for the continued operation of the mine pending the renewal of its agreement with the Republic of the Philippines
- Represented the country’s largest power distribution utility in an investigation for alleged anti-competitive behaviour and abuse of market power
- Represented two multinational mining companies, one of which is the largest gold mining company in the world, defending against a petition for a Writ of Kalikasan filed by individuals, supported by their Provincial Government.
One of the key firms in the Philippines for litigation work, Villaraza & Angangco (V&A Law) represents clients in complex disputes before courts, government agencies and arbitral tribunals, many of which have a multi-jurisdictional element. Joseph Anthony Lopez leads the team and draws on his previous experience working in-house at a major bank to handle financial disputes, securities fraud and insolvency. Co-managing partners Augusto San Pedro Jr and Alejandro Alfonso Navarro are key members of the team; the former specialises in commercial disputes, advising on matters related to joint ventures, banking and finance, product liability and competition law, while the latter is an arbitration specialist having previously represented clients before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre. Thea Daep specialises in fraud and anti-money laundering investigations,
Other key lawyers:
Consortium of Philippine Banks (Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, BDO Unibank, Inc., Bank of the Philippine Islands)
Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation
Globe Telecommunications, Inc.
BDO Unibank, Inc.
Manila Water Company, Inc.
Makati Development Corporation
Bank of the Philippine Islands
Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Inc.
China Telecommunications Corporation (Chinatel)
The Directors of Professional Services, Inc.
- Acted for Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation in securing the dismissal of a USD300 million suit filed by Bangladesh Bank against RCBC in New York.
- Acted for a consortium of banks in securing an Order approving a rehabilitation plan favourable to the creditors in the largest financial default in Philippine history worth approximately $1.5bn.
- Represented Fountel Corporation, Felicitas Antoinette, Inc. and Directors of Professional Services Inc in a complex intra-corporate struggle for control over Professional Services, Inc., a public company owning several tertiary hospitals in the Philippines and abroad, with over $173m in assets.
Gatmaytan Yap Patacsil Gutierrez & Protacio (C&G Law) provides 'balanced, sober and principled advice' on a wide variety of commercial litigation matters including contractual disputes, banking and securities issues, tax and corporate rehabilitation. Jesus Paolo Protacio co-leads the team and has a broad practice that spans complex, high-value disputes involving product liability, torts, land and the enforcement of foreign judgments. The firm also operates an extensive arbitration practice, most particularly in the manufacturing and energy sectors. Co-practice head Ben Dominic Yap is the key partner in this regard; Yap has previously been appointed by the ICC to act as a neutral expert in an arbitration governed by Philippine law.
Metro Rail Transit Corporation
SN Aboitiz Power-Magat and SN Aboitiz Power-Benguet
TeaM Energy Corporation
Mactan Enerzone Corporation
Casecnan Water and Energy Company, Inc.
SteelAsia Manufacturing Corporation
Canon Marketing (Philippines), Inc.
TeaM Sual Corporation
STEAG State Power, Inc.
- Represented Metro Rail Transit Corporation in proceedings before the Philippine Supreme Court against the City of Makati involving real property taxes issued by the city amounting to over PHP1bn.
- Represented a number of power generation companies in proceedings before the Supreme Court where various cause-oriented groups and lawmakers have challenged the validity of certain laws and regulations.
- Represented TeaM Sual Corporation in court proceedings to nullify a local business tax assessment issued by the local government unit amounting to over PhP338m.
The team at Martinez Vergara Gonzalez & Serrano is able to advise on a wide variety of major disputes, ranging from real estate and corporate matters to crime and sport-related issues. 'Exceptional' practice head Eduardo Martinez is a specialist in family and private client law, advising on adoption, marriage annulment and other domestic relations cases, as well as probate of will and intestate proceedings. Martinez is also experienced in alternative dispute resolution and serves as an appeals court mediator. Reynaldo Dizon leads the employment group and handles arbitration disputes between employers and employees, often involving wrongful dismissal and monetary claims. Shirley Alinea is noted for corporate rehabilitation and liquidation.
‘This firm does not only limit itself to one or a few special practices, it is in almost all areas of practices (whether labour, tax or other government matters and all forms of disputes business wise or personal) without sacrificing quality or efficiency of its services because they have very good people in all levels of practices. This means you do not have to retain 2 or 3 other law offices which these days may be costly.‘
‘The most senior partner Dindo Martinez I rate as exceptional in terms of quality and efficiency of work, but more important is the personal closeness that he extends that makes me feel that I am in good hands. Whether he is in the country or abroad, he is always there to help with my legal challenges and unlike most lawyers, Dindo is never too busy although I know he has tons of work.‘
BDO Unibank, Inc.
Cohaco Merchandising & Dev. Corporation
Sungears Sales, Inc.
Teleperformance Global Services Philippines, Inc.
CF Sharp Crew Management, Inc.
Crown Equities, Inc.
Malayan Insurance Co., Inc.
Hans Brumann, Inc.
Sixtrees Viz Comms Pte. Ltd
Arendelle Cold Logistics, Inc.
Eisberg Cold Logistics, Inc.
- Advised on the prosecution of a complaint for the annulment of two Transfer Certificates of Title issued under the prevailing Torrens system of land registration, covering two parcels of land, totalling 82,170 square metres.
- Advised on the defence against a complaint for Declaration of Nullity of Certificates of Title, Declaration of Ownership and Possession and Damages, filed by former tenants of a parcel of land in Mandaluyong City, Philippines, covering 3,072 square metres
Platon Martinez Flores San Pedro & Leaño
Platon Martinez Flores San Pedro & Leaño is experienced in advising on civil, commercial, admiralty and administrative cases at both first instance and appellate levels. The group is also active in arbitration proceedings in the construction industry, in addition to mass tort and product liability cases. Peter Bantilan leads the practice and also advises on data privacy and aviation law.
Puyat Jacinto & Santos Law Offices
Puyat Jacinto & Santos Law Offices advises clients from the pharmaceutical, energy, construction and manufacturing sectors on a range of contentious issues. The group is particularly active advising domestic corporations on various intra-corporate disputes involving shareholders and directors. Arbitration is another key area; the team recently represented Mindoro Geothermal Power Corporation in arbitration proceedings following the unilateral termination of a power supply agreement by Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative Inc.. Energy specialists Joshua Gilbert Paraiso and Fidel Valeros Jr lead the team, ably supported by Roy Enrico Santos, who also provides expertise in labour disputes.
Other key lawyers:
- Assisted several power generation companies in resolving the various disputes related to the construction and operation of their power generation facilities.
- Acted for various clients in relation to tax assessments and administrative claims for refunds including representing clients before the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Court of Tax Appeals and the Supreme Court.
- Assisted a pharmaceutical company in all its current disputes with distributors and suppliers.
The 'technically strong' and 'professional' lawyers at Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles primarily act for commercial clients from a variety of industries on a broad range of civil, criminal, administrative, and regulatory issues. A recent highlight has been representing Philippine Tobacco Institute, Inc. in a successful attempt to overturn the prohibition by the City of Balanga on the use, sale and advertisement of tobacco products in the city's university town. Arbitration is also a key focus; the firm is especially active advising large multinationals from the oil and gas sectors in proceedings against public bodies. Louie Ogsimer, Tranquil Salvador and Jomini Nazareno are the names to note.
‘Technically strong, professional, a pleasure to work with.‘
‘Louie Ogsimer and his team have strong technical skills and an understanding of the dynamics of arbitration.‘
‘This team’s strengths are 1) execution, 2) passion and 3) professionalism.‘
‘Mr. Louie Ogsimer stands-out as a specialist for dispute resolution in Philippine law.‘
- Represented Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. and Chevron Malampaya LLC in an ICC arbitration against the Republic of the Philippines. The dispute involved the government’s claim for back taxes in the amount of $3bn in relation to a multi-billion dollar gas project in the Philippines.
- Represented Hyundai Engineering Co. Ltd. in an HKIAC arbitration against a Philippine company in the power industry, involving a multi-billion dollar dispute in relation to a coal-fired powerplant in the Province of Cebu, Philippines.
- Represented Huang Hsiang Development Corporation to recover possession of, and protects its interests over, its property with a market value of over PHP3bn.
One of the oldest firms in the Philippines, Ortega Bacorro Odulio Calma & Carbonell has a strong reputation for acting for local companies and individuals in a variety of disputes, most particularly those relating to shipping and intellectual property. A recent highlight was representing an individual in a dispute in the Supreme Court against a bank regarding the cancellation of a contract of sale on the grounds of fraud. Founding partner Benjamin Bacorro specialises in maritime law in addition to criminal litigation. Pedro Carbonell is noted for cargo and crew claims
Insular Oil Corporation
Inter-Argo Ph., Inc
Quadra Commodities S.A
- Acted for Insular Oil corporation in its claims relating to a PHP46m performance bond issued by UCPB General Insurance.
- Advised Petro Gazz in its recovery efforts to collect PHP15m from one of its gasoline distributors.
- Represented Quadra Commodities S.A in its US$145,000 arbitration case in Singapore against Universal Robina Corporation.
Tolosa Javier Law
Despite only having been established in April 2019, Tolosa Javier Law has quickly gained a reputation for handling complex commercial, civil, criminal, and administrative disputes. In its first year of operation, the firm represented Meralco, the country’s largest distribution utility company, in a PHP10bn case before the Supreme Court against 13 power generation companies regarding the legality of a decision by the Energy Regulatory Commission. Founding partners Benjamin Tolosa Jr and Filemon Javier, both of whom previously worked as senior associates at Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALaw), are the key practitioners.
Other key lawyers:
Manila Electric Company (Meralco)
San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corporation
Street Marketing Corporation
Antonio’s Group of Companies
Florabel Group of Companies
- Represented Meralco in a petition before the Philippine Supreme Court challenging the exercise by the Energy Regulatory Commission of its delegated power which may result in passing on billions of pesos in generation costs to millions of Filipino consumers.
- Represented Nutri-Asia in filing criminal cases against those who conducted a riot, destroyed and burned down company-owned properties, and held an illegal strike in the client’s manufacturing plant,
- Represented San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corporation in the investigation of the Bureau of Fire Protection (“BFP”) of the Philippines as regards the Manila Plastics Plant fire incident, which happened on 1 February 2020 and resulted in damages amounting to more than PHP700m.
Specialising in tax disputes, Zambrano Gruba Caganda & Advincula represents banks and major corporate clients both in the court of tax appeals and in the Supreme Court in appeals for tax credit and refunds as well as the cancellation of tax assessments. The group also has arbitration experience, having previously acted for a multinational bank before the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre. In a recent highlight, Antero Jose Caganda successfully challenged, in the Supreme Court, a $14m VAT assessment on behalf of G&W Architects, Engineers and Project Consultants Co. Juan Miguel Victor De La Fuente's tax expertise spans both contentious and non-contentious issues.
Other key lawyers:
Sabre Travel Network (Philippines) Inc.
G & W Architects, Engineers and Project Consultants Co.
Asia United Leasing and Finance Corporation
Lucio L. Co, Susan P. Co, Ferdinand P. Co, and Pamela Justine P. Co
Philippine Airlines, Inc.
Island Quarry and Aggregates Corporation
Grand Plaza Hotel Corporation
- Acted for Philippine Airlines, Inc. in securing a favourable decision from the Supreme Court of the Philippines against the client’s assessments for excise taxes on importations of aviation fuel used by the client for its domestic airline operation.
- Secured a favourable decision for G & W Architects, Engineers and Project Consultants Co. before the Court of Tax Appeals Division, En Banc, and with the Supreme Court of the Philippines against the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s assessment amounting to $14m.
- Successfully represented Island Quarry and Aggregates Corporation in securing a favourable decision from the Court of Tax Appeals En Banc on the client’s deficiency Income Tax, Value Added Tax, and Withholding Tax amounting to $933,898.75.
Best known for its expertise in the shipping industry, Del Rosario & Del Rosario acts for multinational companies, insurers and P&I clubs in complex disputes relating to the maritime industry, including those involving vessel arrest, collisions, salvage, oil pollution, and loss of cargo. The group has a particularly strong labour disputes practice which handles claims involving death, disability, illness and illegal dismissal. Arturo Del Rosario Jr. and Ruben Del Rosario lead the practice and both have decades of experience in the sector.
JPIA & Tokio Marine
Colombia Ship Management
- Advised JPIA & Tokio Marine on the salvage of a vessel destroyed by fire in the South China Sea.
- Acted for M/V Front Alter in Filipino seafarer claims and benefits following an attack on a vessel in the Gulf of Oman.
- Represented CEMEX in an environmental claim following a landslide which resulted in multiple deaths and injuries.
Disini & Disini Law Office focuses on disputes within the information technology space, and has experience litigating on behalf of companies and individuals at both first instance and on appeal. Cybercrime is an area of particular expertise, and the firm often advises on offences under the data privacy act as well as e-commerce issues. The team was strengthened by the 2019 arrival of Juor Buted, who has expertise in all types of commercial litigation. Managing partner JJ Disini advises on technology and intellectual property disputes.
Delta Earthmoving Inc
Philippine Amateur Radio Association Inc
Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra handles contentious matters relating to the real estate, banking and media sectors. Francis Africa leads the team and has a broad practice that also covers corporate, transport, mining and labour matters. Ramon Andre Cedro is a litigation specialist; he advises on civil as well as criminal matters and is heavily involved in public interest cases.
Gulapa & Quicho (Gulapa Law)'s litigation practice underwent significant development in 2019, as the firm added expertise in infrastructure litigation to its existing commercial and civil disputes offering. The firm also has a niche representing indigenous people in a variety of contexts. Alternative dispute resolution is another area of activity for the team, which regularly represents private companies in arbitration proceedings related to the construction industry. Head of litigation Oscar Cajucom advises on a ranger of disputes in a labour, commercial and criminal context.
JBROS Construction Corporation
Philippine South East Asean Games Organizational Committee Foundation, Inc.
Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corp.
Edna Cureg, and Henry Cureg
Dr. Yvonne De Mesa
Minimax Advertising and Production Corp.
- Represented JBROS Construction Corporation in successfully obtaining an interim relief in aid of arbitration, namely a temporary order of protection, from the Regional Trial Court against the respondents to prevent irreparable injury being caused by the respondent Department of Health.
- Advised Philippine South East Asian Games Organizational Committee Foundation, Inc. on preventing the issuance of a temporary restraining order brought by a disgruntled bidder against the South East Asian Games Information Systems Project.
Mosveldtt Law handles a range of contentious issues within the context of both litigation and arbitration. Aldrich Fitz Dy is the key practitioner and is particularly active in intellectual property, corporate rehabilitation and environmental matters. Senior associate Darwin Angeles is another name to note.
Picazo Buyco Tan Fider & Santos
Picazo Buyco Tan Fider & Santos's broad litigation practice includes handling commercial, insolvency, criminal and family disputes. The firm is also active in alternative dispute resolution, offering services in mediation and arbitration.
Quiason Makalintal Barot Torres Ibarra Sison & Damaso
Quiason Makalintal Barot Torres Ibarra Sison & Damaso acts for individual and corporate clients in major commercial disputes, often involving petitions for rehabilitation, liquidation and real estate matters. Orencio Ibarra leads the team.