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GAR 100 - 12th Edition

Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira

05 April 2019

Acting on seven ICSID claims against Spain relating to solar reforms

People in Who's Who Legal 1
People in Future Leaders 2
Pending cases as counsel 53
Value of pending counsel work US$4.7 billion
Treaty cases 8
Third-party funded cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 8 (3 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 3

Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira was born of a 2003 merger between two 80-year-old firms from Spain and Portugal. Initially, the firm’s international arbitration work rarely strayed from the Iberian Peninsula, but after a surge in Latin America and North Africa-related cases in 2007, it began to expand its focus.

The practice has gone from being one of the first Iberian firms invited to pitch for major work, to now winning some of those pitches ahead of the big Anglo-Saxon firms. You will find it acting opposite large international firms almost as often as against other Spanish names. Meanwhile, its Latin American regional international arbitration practice is also recognised in various legal directories as a front runner.

Recently, it’s become more prominent in the investment arbitration arena as a result of Spain’s cuts to renewable energy subsidies. The firm is advising in seven Energy Charter Treaty cases relating to those reforms at ICSID, including the first two claims ever brought at the centre by Japanese investors.

The firm also handles a fair number of ICC arbitrations, with its caseload having steadily increased in recent years. Spanish clients remain the key users, but EU and US companies have also retained the firm of late.

Network

Of its 14 Spanish offices, Madrid, Barcelona and Seville are the key offices for arbitration, while it also has members of the group based in Lisbon, São Paulo, Bogotá and Mexico City. The wider firm also has offices in London, Brussels, New York, Shanghai, Beijing and Casablanca as well as associations with firms in Angola and Mozambique.

Who uses it?

Clients traditionally hailed from Iberia and Latin America – including Spain’s Abengoa Group and Argentina’s Pluspetrol – but an increasing number are from other parts of the world. They include US companies Dow Chemical and NextEra Energy, France’s Engie, Germany’s BayWa and Deutsche Post and Japan’s JGC Corporation and Itochu. It has represented a number of market leaders in the motor industry, including Mitsubishi Corporation, Rolls-Royce and the SEAT-Volkswagen group.

It has also received instructions from Portuguese former colonies: one over the construction of an airport on the island of Cape Verde, and the other over an oil exploration project in Angola.

Track record

Cuatrecasas achieved a striking result in 2015 while defending Argentina’s Pampa Energía in an ICC dispute with Spanish construction group Isolux over the upgrade of a power plant. The firm succeeded in knocking out almost all of a US$200 million claim and prevailed on a counterclaim worth US$45 million.

In 2013, it won US$140 million for a US private equity firm in a Madrid-seated ICC case against a Luxembourg fund. The same year, it helped Abengoa win US$110 million in two New York-seated ICC arbitrations. The awards survived a challenge in the US courts.

The firm secured a US$45 million payout to US-Spanish toll-road consortium Codacsa in a London-seated ICC case against the Dominican Republic. The state paid the award in 2013.

In 2012, the firm won a US$2 million SCC award against Russia for a group of Spanish investment funds with a small stake in Yukos Oil Company, though the award was overturned in Sweden four years later.

Cuatrecasas has also won an investment arbitration against Cuba (albeit a small one). The case took place at the ICC and was brought by a medium-sized Spanish company. The firm was sole counsel to the claimant and won a US$2.8 million award.

It also represented a motorway concessionaire in a €530 million Lisbon-seated arbitration against the Portuguese government, where it prevailed on part of its claims.

Recent events

The Madrid office welcomed counsel Pierre Raoul-Duval in 2018 following his retirement from the partnership at Gide Loyrette Nouel in Paris, where he had co-headed the international arbitration practice. Cuatrecasas also hired Miguel de Almada as partner from Portuguese firm Morais Leitão Galvão Teles Soares da Silva & Associados.

Frederico Bettencourt Ferreira in Lisbon was promoted to the partnership in 2018, as was Víctor Manuel Sánchez, who splits his time between Barcelona and São Paulo.

Lisbon partners Miguel Esperança Pina and Rita Gouveia left in late 2018 to join CMS.

There was a great result for NextEra in early 2019 when an ICSID tribunal found that Spain’s renewable energy reforms were in breach of the Energy Charter Treaty. A final award is yet to be rendered at the time of writing, but NextEra says it expects to receive around €291 million plus interest. Cuatrecasas partner Alberto Fortún has been co-counselling with Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom on that matter.

The firm continues to counsel on six other ICSID cases against Spain, including one commenced in 2018 by Tokyo-based Itochu Corporation. It is also representing Spanish-Italian consortium Metro de Lima Línea 2 in a US$200 million contractual ICSID claim against Peru concerning delays to a project to build a second metro line in Lima.

In 2018, the firm helped a Portuguese public company secure the dismissal of all but 2% of a US$166 million claim by a real estate company concerning a joint venture. An appeal is pending.

Cuatrecasas clinched a favourable award for a joint venture between Spanish construction company Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC) and its Italian partner Astaldi in a dispute relating to Romanian railway contracts. FCC went on to retain the firm in two further ICC cases related to projects in Romania.

A Mexican state-owned entity, Grupo Aeroportuario de la Ciudad de México, has retained it for two ICC cases worth US$80 million relating to the construction of a new airport in Mexico City.

It is representing the Spanish subsidiary of an Israeli group in a €300 million dispute with a Dutch-based partner over a chemicals joint venture; and a Spanish bank in a US$27 million dispute with another international bank related to an M&A transaction.

A Belgian company is also taking counsel from Cuatrecasas in a US$50 million claim against an African state, with counterclaims exceeding US$70 million.

Portuguese energy group EIP is using the firm in a €16 million dispute with Angolan company Telectrinf over a joint venture , which is being administered by Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Insight

Reviews

Regional analysis from arbitrators around the globe, focussing on key developments in specific industry areas and jurisdictions.

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The Middle Eastern and African Arbitration Review 2019

Highlights

CRCICA Overview

Ismail Selim and Dalia Hussein

The Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA)

DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Overview

Alec Emmerson

DIFC Arbitration Institute (DAI)

Robert Stephen, Matthew Harley and Katy Hacking

DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Centre