José Humberto Frías > D'Empaire > Caracas, Venezuela > Lawyer Profile

José Humberto Frías photo

Work Department

Competition Law, Public Law and International Arbitration




José Humberto represents clients in domestic and international arbitrations, including commercial and investor-state disputes. He is also specialized in antitrust, regulatory and public law.

Before joining D’Empaire in 2005, José Humberto worked with the Venezuelan antitrust authority (Procompetencia), and as a foreign associate at the New York offices of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in 2001.

José Humberto’s recent work includes:

  • Representing two investors from Luxembourg and Portugal in two ICSID arbitrations against the Government of Venezuela
  • Representing two investors from Spain in a UNCITRAL arbitration against the Government of Venezuela
  • Representing a family of Spanish investors in two ICSID arbitrations against the Government of Venezuela
  • Representing a Barbados investor in an ICSID arbitration against the Government of Venezuela
  • Acting for a German company in an ICC arbitration arising from a commercial claim by a Venezuelan company
  • Representing a Spanish company in an ICC arbitration arising from a claim by a Venezuelan company
  • Acting as arbitrator in domestic commercial arbitrations
  • Participating in many of the most significant antitrust cases in Venezuela, representing international and Venezuelan clients (including Telecom Italia, Cemex and Sanofi-Aventis) in several important cases before the Constitutional and Administrative Chambers of the Supreme Court of Venezuela
  • Advising clients in complex administrative and regulatory matters, including representing Santander, Cemex, Ternium and AEI Energy in their nationalizations by the Government of Venezuela

José Humberto is currently ranked as “Band 3” by Chambers & Partners (2019 Venezuela Dispute Resolution Rankings) and as a “Leading Lawyer” by The Legal 500 (2018 Venezuela Dispute Resolution Rankings). He has also been consistently top ranked by Chambers as one of the best antitrust and public law lawyers in Venezuela.

He also teaches legal philosophy at Universidad Catolica Andres Bello.


Spanish and English


Bar Association of the Capital District, Caracas, Venezuela.


Studied law at Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, Caracas (JD, 1993) and McGill University, Montreal (LLM, 2000).

Lawyer Rankings

Venezuela > Corporate and M&A

D’Empaire‘s corporate and M&A practice has a strong track record of participating in major transactions resulting from the dollarisation of the market in Venezuela. In addition, the firm frequently collaborates with international law firms to advise global clients on cross-border transactions. Fulvio Italiani heads the team and is an experienced practitioner in M&A; his recent work highlights include assisting Brown-Forman with its acquisition of the Diplomático Rum brand and related assets. José Humberto Frías, Victorino MárquezRoberto Mas and Inés Parra are active transactional lawyers, while Carlos Omaña has notable expertise in acquisitions in the onshore oil drilling sector. Associate Giancarlo Carrazza provides key support.

Venezuela > Energy and natural resources

D’Empaire is widely recognised for its oil and gas practice, which combines its knowledge and experience in the sector with its M&A and finance expertise. The firm has assisted foreign companies with energy-related projects and transactions, including advising international construction and engineering companies in connection with the execution of EPC turn-key projects. ‘Excellent advisersCarlos Omaña, an expert in oil and gas projects, and Fulvio Italiani, who is experienced in major energy-related transactions, lead the team, while José Valecillos, José Humberto Frías, Arnoldo Troconis and Roberto Mas are also key names in the practice.

Venezuela > Dispute resolution

(Leading individuals)

José Humberto FríasD’Empaire

D’Empaire is focused on investor-state arbitration and is currently involved in significant ICSID and UNCITRAL proceedings, including in relation to nationalisation and measures carried out by the Venezuelan government. The firm also handles both domestic and international commercial arbitration and civil and commercial litigation. José Humberto Frías, who is well versed in commercial and investor-state arbitration, and Pedro Perera, a specialist in civil, commercial, IP and constitutional litigation. Dubraska Galarraga is also a key partner, while Giancarlo Carrazza and Daniel Bustos are the names to note at associate level.

Venezuela > Public law

D’Empaire handles a wide range of matters within the public law field, including advising on freedom of speech issues for one of Venezuela’s largest telecoms players and on nationalisations and expropriations affecting major domestic companies. Alongside this, the firm has engaged in a number of matters in the pharmaceutical sector, providing regulatory advice to major clients including Pfizer and Bristol-Myers. The team is also well regarded for its experience in negotiations with the Venezuelan government (where associate Daniel Bustos is particularly active). José Valentín González represents clients in constitutional and administrative litigation, as well as regulatory matters, and is described as ‘always able to connect the dots between jurisdictions‘, while José Humberto Frías is knowledgeable in regulatory issues. Francisco Bolinaga, who focuses on advising multinationals and Venezuelan companies on environmental law, and associate Ornella Bernabei, who has expertise in communications and technology law, are also noted contacts.