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GAR 100 - 12th Edition

Claro y Cia

05 April 2019

A market leader in Chile

People in Who's Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 8
Value of pending counsel work US$430 million
Treaty cases 1
Third-party funded cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 7 (3 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 1

Founded in 1880, Claro y Cía is the oldest firm in Chile. It came to GAR’s attention through Felipe Ossa, who joined in 2006 after four years with the international arbitration practice at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

But even before that – as GAR’s sister title Latin Lawyer 250 notes – Claro y Cía had established itself as one of the country’s most prestigious firms recognised for its disputes work as well as for banking, finance and M&A. Senior partner José María Eyzaguirre was one of the first practitioners in the region to take part in major international arbitrations. In 1999, he was co-counsel with Freshfields in an ICC case involving Heineken and local brewer Quiñenco.

When the local arbitration body, CAM Santiago (the Centre of Arbitration and Mediation at the Santiago Chamber of Commerce), unveiled a new roster of arbitrators, five Claro y Cía lawyers were on the list – the most of any local law firm. As of 2016, Ossa is chairman of the ICC commission on arbitration and ADR in Chile; and the Chilean chapter of the Spanish Arbitration Club.

Who uses it?

Recent clients include KPMG, Walmart, French PR firm Publicis Groupe, New Zealand’s Greymouth Petroleum and US energy group AES. The firm also represented EDF in the enforcement of an ICC award against Total and Repsol before the Supreme Court of Chile.

Track record

The firm helped Chilean chemicals company SQM settle a domestic arbitration with state entity Corfo in 2018 concerning royalties from one of the world’s biggest lithium deposits.

Together with Squire Patton Boggs, it helped US solar panel manufacturer First Solar defeat an ICC claim brought by investors in one of South America’s largest solar power plants. A Chilean court later threw out a lawsuit in which the claimants accused the sole arbitrator of misconduct.

Claro y Cía won a favourable award for US copper producer Freeport in a large construction case at CAM Santiago in 2012 and has acted for it in several further cases.

It is also behind some of the milestone court decisions on arbitration in Chile. Those include persuading a Chilean court to award interim measures under the country’s international arbitration act for the first time. Ossa and another partner handled a case that led to Chile’s first court ruling upholding the principle of competence-competence.

Recent events

The firm has been acting for oil and gas exploration and production company Greymouth Petroleum in an ICC dispute with Chilean state-owned oil company Empresa Nacional del Petróleo (ENAP) over a joint agreement for the exploitation of oil in southern Chile.

Claro y Cía has been representing Chilean electricity producer AES Gener in an ICC arbitration against the Nuevo Maipo consortium, made up of Germany’s Hochtief and Italy’s CMC di Ravenna. In 2018, it defeated an attempt to compel its client to post US$73 million in security, also winning an order for the return of confidential data. The underlying dispute concerns the construction of a hydroelectric power plant outside Santiago and has given rise to two emergency arbitrator proceedings.

US retailer Walmart turned to Claro y Cía for advice on a potential investment dispute with the Chilean government after decisions by the country’s tax authorities and courts allegedly impinged on its corporate structure in Chile.

The firm was also retained by Mexican retail company Alsea for ad hoc proceedings against the owners of Domino’s Pizza’s Chilean franchise, which it had sought to purchase.

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