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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

M & M Bomchil

05 April 2018

Still helping clients deal with the fallout from Argentina’s energy crisis

People in Who’s Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 6
Value of pending counsel work US$780 million
Treaty cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 8 (of which 4 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 2

M&M Bomchil has existed since 1923, but has only acquired a name for international arbitration over the past two decades under the leadership of Guido Santiago Tawil.

Tawil regularly sits as an ICSID arbitrator, most commonly appointed by claimants. His reputation is reflected by the roles he has held in various arbitral organisations: he is a former president of the Latin American Arbitration Association (ALARB) and a former co-chair of the International Bar Association’s arbitration committee. He is also a member of the governing council of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA), the LCIA Court and the Institute for Transnational Arbitration’s executive committee.

In addition, Tawil is a professor at Buenos Aires University, as are Rafael Manóvil and María Inés Corrá – the other pillars of M&M Bomchil’s arbitration practice. Manóvil, a former partner who now serves as of counsel, often sits as an arbitrator. GAR’s sister magazine, Latin Lawyer, included Corrá in a list of the 50 most inspiring women in the practice of law in Latin America.

Máximo Bomchil, who was managing partner of the firm for more than 30 years and is now its honorary president, is a member of the ICC Court.

Who uses it?

Clients include Endesa, CMS, Azurix, Telefónica, Siemens, Camuzzi, Enron, Argentine supermarket operator Disco, Cargill and Wintershall in major investment and commercial disputes in Latin America. It has also worked with several clients from the Chilean gas industry on arbitration and litigation spawned by Argentina’s 2004 energy crisis (when the government began enacting export restrictions to safeguard domestic supply of gas and electricity).

Track record

In 2016, the firm helped two creditors obtain a pay-out of US$200 million in bonds from the Argentine government to satisfy two investment treaty awards worth a combined US$317 million. The clients were unidentified entities that acquired the rights to the awards from the original claimants, the UK’s BG Group and the US’s El Paso Corporation. The firm is currently acting in settlement discussions for other treaty awards.

M&M Bomchil won a substantial victory (as co-counsel with King & Spalding) for Texan water service provider Azurix. In 2006, it helped the company win a US$225 million ICSID award against Argentina, and later successfully defended the award in annulment proceedings.

Teaming up with Freshfields, it helped CMS Gas win a US$133 million ICSID award against Argentina in 2005. The state eventually agreed to settle the Azurix and CMS Gas awards (as well as three other awards) with a payment of bonds.

It also defended a Argentina’s largest retail company against an UNCITRAL claim filed by the Chilean arm of Walmart. The claim was dismissed in its entirety.

In the Argentine courts, the firm helped Spanish energy giant Endesa annul a US$600 million ICC award obtained by EDF Energy. The annulment was confirmed by the country’s Federal Supreme Court.

Elsewhere the firm helped an Argentine company defeat a US$70 million claim by a Chilean retailer; and successfully represented a Chilean distributor in a US$40 million ICDR case.

Recent events

The firm is representing Siemens in ad hoc arbitration relating to a state contract under Argentine law.

It is advising Germany’s Wintershall as part of a consortium of three gas producers facing a US$250 million ICC claim brought by Chilean gas distributor Metrogas for lost payments related to export restrictions imposed following Argentina’s 2004 energy crisis.

Client comment

Endesa’s Latin America legal subdirector, José María Fesser, has used M&M Bomchil for power disputes with an Argentine element for more than a decade, including on the recent ICC matter. He gives “special mention” to Guido Tawil and Francisco Gutiérrez. “They are a sure guarantee that the legal work will be done very well, and they pay close attention to their clients.”

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