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GAR 100 - 10th Edition

Garrigues

08 March 2017

A senior hire opens a gateway in London

People in Who’s Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 15
Value of pending counsel work US$2.5 billion+
Treaty cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 3 (of which 0 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 1

In 1981, Garrigues was the first Spanish firm to create a disputes department. In the 1990s, as Spanish companies became more active abroad, it received its first instruction in an international arbitration, and, in 1999, it decided to build specific capability in this area.

Initially, work was led by José María Alonso (who left the firm in 2012 to become managing partner of Baker McKenzie’s Madrid office) and Miguel Moscardó (who left to set up his own firm in 2009). Both former partners recruited a then rising star from the counsel ranks at the ICC: Fernando Mantilla-Serrano, now at Latham & Watkins. The team made its name working on, among other things, a dispute about the ownership of Peru’s largest gold mine.

Since then, others have come to the fore, including Madrid-based partner Carlos de los Santos. He is flanked by Francisco Serrano, who led one of the firm’s largest-ever instructions in the area (three interlinked ICC arbitrations). Other names to know are Jaime Luis Iglesias (who moved to the firm’s São Paulo office in 2014) and Alberto Pimenta.

In early 2016, the firm recruited Joe Tirado, former global head of international arbitration at Winston & Strawn in London, who now co-leads the Garrigues practice with Carlos de los Santos. Tirado, who also sits as arbitrator, brings 25 years’ experience and is particularly well-known for energy disputes. His arrival gives the firm an important foothold in the English market.

Network

The firm has partners with international arbitration experience in numerous Spanish offices besides Madrid, as well as in Portugal (Lisbon and Porto) and further afield – Shanghai, Tangiers, London, Paris, New York, Warsaw and Brussels. In Latin America, it has offices in Mexico City, Lima, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Bogotá.

Who uses it?

The practice serves major Spanish names in construction, energy, banking and finance, and distribution and services. These include BBVA, Santander, Endesa and Iberdrola. It also represents Portuguese bank Banif, car manufacturers Volvo and Kia, and insurer Aegon. The government of Namibia is another client.

Track record

One notable matter saw the firm knock out the bulk of a US$177 million claim against its client over a construction project in the Middle East. In the final award, the client was ordered to pay only US$540,000, with the other side bearing the costs. It has also recently defeated two claims of more than US$100 million.

The firm also acted as counsel for Spanish insurer Aegon in an ICC arbitration regarding a “change of control” clause in a joint venture agreement with Banco Sabadell, for which the firm negotiated a €450 million settlement in the client’s favour.

Another matter saw Garrigues help the government of Namibia to reverse a Spanish court’s injunction against an ICC arbitration in Paris.

In 2015, Garrigues helped Spanish TV channel operator Mediapro knock out a significant part of a €200 million claim brought by Spain’s Grupo Prisa over sports broadcasting rights, in what the local press had dubbed “the football war”. Prisa was reportedly awarded around €77 million.

Recent events

The firm has been acting for Iberdrola in two gas price reopener arbitrations (under ICC and LCIA rules) worth a combined US$700 million. One has concluded with a downward price review worth much less than the client had feared; while the other has seen a partial award almost entirely upholding Iberdrola’s interpretation of the price review clause.

The firm continues to act for Spanish construction group Obrascón Huarte Lain in an ICC claim against a Qatari state-backed entity over the cancellation of a €1.7 billion contract to build a medical centre in Doha.

In Chile, the firm hired Mónica van der Schraft from Cariola Diez Pérez Cotapos y Cía to head its litigation and arbitration department in Santiago.

Client comment

Iñigo Cisneros of Mediapro commended the business knowledge of the Garrigues team, noting their “conscientious and tireless work”.

Tomás López of Amadeus IT Group notes that the firm is pragmatic and has a “particularly good business view when dealing with complex cases.”

Tomás Alfaro of Aegon praises Garrigues’ “amazing work”, singling out partner Alberto Pimenta. He says he “would definitely recommend them to anyone for an important arbitration”, highlighting the firm’s “professional and resourceful” working style and “amazing thought leadership in legal matters”. He adds that they “get great results”.