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GAR 100 - 12th Edition

Arias SLP

05 April 2019

Founding partner David Arias decided a US$3 billion dispute relating to Angola

People in Who's Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 3
Value of pending counsel work US$90.5 million
Treaty cases 0
Third-party funded cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 14 (4 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 1

David Arias spent 15 years with Spanish law firm Pérez-Llorca where he built and led a 30-strong disputes team, before breaking away to set up Arias SLP in Madrid in 2013. Since then he has been practising as arbitrator and counsel while recruiting a new team – including partners Eduardo Villellas, who joined in 2016, and Luis Capiel, who joined in 2018.

Arias is a former co-chair of the international arbitration committee of the International Bar Association (IBA), having stepped down in 2017. He played a key role in the IBA’s revisions to its guidelines on conflicts of interest as well as the drafting of its 2010 rules on the taking of evidence.

Who uses it?

A number of Western European clients in the construction, real estate, energy and IT sectors. These include Gas Natural Fenosa (now Naturgy) and Abengoa from Spain; engineering group Maire Tecnimont and manufacturer Danieli in Italy; French real estate firm Altarea Cogedim; and Hewlett-Packard. Other clients include Spanish bank Bankia, Croatia’s Luksic Group and consulting firm Systra Korea.

Commercial cases make up most of the firm’s workload, though it has also handled an Energy Charter Treaty matter. It also has experience in the arbitration regimes of Angola, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Peru and Qatar.

Track record

In 2016 Arias SLP achieved a notable win in a €63 million arbitration between one of Spain’s leading energy groups and the main Spanish carrier of natural gas. Around the same time, the firm struck a favourable settlement for a subsidiary of a leading Spanish energy and construction group, leading to the withdrawal of the other party’s counterclaims.

The firm helped Maire Tecnimont obtain a favourable settlement in a billion-dollar ICC dispute over the construction of a power plant in Chile in 2015. The client received a US$140 million pay-out from Endesa Chile, which had brought the case.

It secured a favourable award in 2017 for FCC, a Spanish leader in the construction and energy sectors, in an US$18 million dispute with a French company.

Recent events

Partner Dámaso Riaño left in 2018 after nearly five years with the firm to become secretary general at the Madrid Court of Arbitration. Riaño was the first hire that Arias made after founding the firm and was promoted to partner in 2015.

Luis Capiel joined as partner in 2018 after nearly seven years at Uría Menéndez, where he was a senior associate in Madrid and former head of the firm’s office in Santiago, Chile. He brings more than 10 years’ experience in engineering and construction disputes.

David Arias continues to sit on some high-profile cases. He was part of a five-member tribunal that heard a US$3 billion dispute between shareholders in Angolan mobile phone company Unitel. The tribunal issued a final award worth US$650 million in early 2019 in favour of a subsidiary of Brazil’s Oi.

He also presided over a Frankfurt-seated ICC arbitration between Latin American and Asian companies over a distributorship agreement; and a US$200 million ICC arbitration seated in Paris between a Western European company and an Eastern European government regarding the expropriation of a hydroelectric plant.

Client comment

José Cerro Redondo, FCC’s head of legal services, says the firm has “an incredible capacity to analyse a dispute from all points of view” and “interact with the in-house legal and business teams”.



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