Global law firm White & Case LLP is ranked at the top of the field of Latin American arbitration by Legal 500 and Chambers Latin America. The recognition continues a banner year for the firm in this burgeoning field, following the firm's recent recognition for the Latin Lawyer Dispute of the Year and OGEMID Arbitration Decision of the Year. White & Case remains the only firm to rank tier one in both Latin American arbitration and project finance, practices which are critical to investment and dispute resolution in the region.
According to Chambers, "the team is fantastic; the lawyers are strategists, with substantive knowledge of the law and extensive experience on international arbitration." White & Case is "a serious player" and draws on the unrivalled resources of the firm's longstanding offices in Mexico City and São Paulo. The firm also ranks tier one in international arbitration in the US and globally in Chambers.
"Our resolute focus is on client service and exceeding expectations, even under the most challenging of circumstances," stated Jonathan C. Hamilton, partner and head of Latin American arbitration for the firm. "We do that by carrying out a longstanding vision to be the global and local leader in Latin American arbitration and investment, and we are only gaining steam."
Legal 500 explains, "White & Case LLP successfully advised on the first ICSID arbitration registered against a Latin American state (1995) and has remained a leading player in the sector to date. With regional offices in Mexico City (1991) and Sao Paulo (1997), the former a leading local player in its own right, the firm has a genuine Latin American footprint. The Latin American international arbitration team is 70 lawyers strong and includes more than 30 Spanish and/or Portuguese speakers and nationals from more than 10 of the region's countries, bringing not only civil law capability but also genuine bi-cultural and bi-lingual comprehension and sensibilities to the practice. Indeed, peers speak of 'an outstanding group of practitioners' and 'profound experience' in disputes in the region."
The publications emphasized White & Case's success in "the most significant cases of recent years." Highlights and comments from Legal 500 include:
1) Abaclat v. Argentina, OGEMID Decision of the Year winner: "In the much-commented $1.3bn Abaclat case, the tribunal acknowledged both the admissibility of and its jurisdiction over, a case that in effect constitutes the first-ever mass claim in investment arbitration."
2) Quiport v. Ecuador, Latin Lawyer Dispute of the Year winner: "In the hugely complex project dispute Quiport et al vs Ecuador, it successfully advised Quiport and a consortium of major multinationals in a complex $1.5bn ICSID dispute involving the construction of a new international airport in Quito (Ecuador), and a pursuant to a 30-year concession even as the Ecuadorian government sought to withdraw from the ICSID convention."
3) SGS v. Paraguay: Successfully "advised testing and certification services group Société Générale de Surveillance."
4) Gold Reserve v. Venezuela: "Acted for Canadian mining company Gold Reserves in a $1bn case against Venezuela."
5) Convial v. Peru: Representing Peru in "a Spanish language ICSID case brought by Argentine investors under BIT legislation and relating to a Lima toll road."
6) TECO v. Guatemala: "Advised US electricity company TECO against Guatemala in one of various cases being handled under the framework of the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement."
7) Renco v. Peru: Advising Peru "in an UNCITRAL case brought by holding company Renco Group and relating to a metallurgical facility" in "the first investment dispute to be brought under the US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement."
The publications also highlighted key partners in Latin American arbitration:
1) Paul Friedland (New York) practice head and an "intellectual powerhouse" with "over 15 years' Brazilian experience," who "recently led on the successful representation of SGS in a $57m claim against Paraguay, a case that will impact upon the debate regarding ICSID tribunals' jurisdiction over contract claims."
2) Jonathan C. Hamilton (Washington, DC) is "widely commended" for "flawless Spanish and very impressive advocacy." He is described as "bilingual and a great negotiator" and "spot on." "The head of the firm's Latin American arbitration practice, he has very much led from the front, undertaking the Quiport case against Ecuador and leading on the practice's multiple cases representing the Republic of Peru, including the successful and high-profile case against Yale University concerning the return of cultural artifacts to the country."
3) Carolyn Lamm (Washington, DC) described as "hugely experienced international arbitration practitioner." Lamm is highlighted for her work on the Abaclat v. Argentina sovereign bonds case, noting that "Lamm's ICSID experience was crucial to the firm's strategy in the Abaclat case."
4) Rafael E. Llano Oddone (Mexico City) is "highly dedicated" and "earns high praise from clients." Llano is a Paraguayan national who focuses almost exclusively on Latin American arbitration.
5) Ank Santens (New York) is lauded for her role as vice-chair of the arbitration committee of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution and described as "highly capable."
6) Abby Cohen Smutny (Washington, DC) described as "hugely experienced international arbitration practitioner." Smutny is highlighted for leading the representation of Gold Reserve against Venezuela.
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