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GAR 100 - 13th Edition

Perez Bustamante & Ponce Abogados

22 April 2020

The Ecuadorean firm has a mix of commercial and investment treaty arbitrations on the go

People in Who's Who Legal 2
People in Future Leaders 1
Pending cases as counsel 17
Value of pending counsel work US$350 million
Treaty cases 6
Third-party funded cases 1

In 2004, Pérez Bustamante & Ponce participated in the first-ever claim against Ecuador at ICSID, helping Repsol YPF to win US$13 million in a contractual claim. Remarkably, two of the firm’s partners oversaw the whole case, without any assistance from international co-counsel.

Not long after, the firm – one of Ecuador’s oldest – began to attract many foreign oil and gas companies affected by regulatory changes introduced by Ecuador’s former president Rafael Correa. It often pairs up with firms such as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, King & Spalding, and White & Case on investment cases.

Rodrigo Jijón, a founder and former president of the Ecuadorean Arbitration Institute, leads the international arbitration practice and is also well known for his energy law expertise. Alongside partner Juan Manuel Marchán, who is increasingly active on investment treaty matters, Jijón is active in the ICC’s Ecuadorian chapter and was a member of the commission in charge of drafting a reform to Ecuador’s Arbitration and Mediation Law.

Another name to know is senior associate Alegría Jijón. Aside from acting on various investment and commercial arbitrations, she has been deeply involved in movements promoting diversity in arbitration. She is the secretary of the Ecuadorian chapter of the Spanish Arbitration Club (CEA), and chair of both CEA’s Arbitral Women in Ecuador and of the Latin America chapter of Woman Way in Arbitration. She was previously with GAR 100 firm Uría Menéndez,

Who uses it?

Energy clients feature prominently on the list. Perenco, ConocoPhillips, Murphy Oil, Noble Energy and Japan’s Teikoku Oil have all turned to the firm for investment claims against Ecuador, as has Brazilian state oil and gas company Petrobras.

Chevron has also reportedly used the firm for local law advice in connection with its long-running dispute over environmental pollution in the Amazon rainforest – including in a denial of justice claim against Ecuador playing out before an arbitral tribunal in The Hague.

It has defended Occidental Petroleum and BP in local environmental litigation (the BP case was linked to the Deepwater Horizon spill).

Chinese construction companies CRBC, Hyrdrochina and China Railway have turned to the firm for advice in investment treaty and commercial arbitration proceedings. Other clients of note include Daimler Chrysler, Brazilian construction group Odebrecht, Spain’s Telefónica, Nestlé, Hong Kong’s CK Hutchison Holdings, Global Franchising Corporation, Australian infrastructure company Cardno and Spain’s Maessa.

Track record

The firm partnered with Freshfields in UNCITRAL proceedings on behalf of Petrobras and its consortium partners in a claim against Ecuador concerning the nationalisation of two oil projects. The tribunal awarded the claimants US$515 million in early 2018.

In 2017, the firm served as co-counsel with Haynes and Boone in ICDR proceedings on behalf of Global Franchising Group against a local franchisee in Ecuador, clinching a US$2 million award for its client.

Alongside King & Spalding, the firm helped the US’s Murphy Oil win more than US$30 million in 2016 in an UNCITRAL claim against Ecuador over the state’s 99% levy on windfall oil profits.

Pairing up with White & Case, the firm helped subsidiaries of Hong Kong conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings knock out the bulk of a US$200 million claim brought by an Ecuadorean port authority in 2015.

Another collaboration with White & Case saw the two firms help airport consortium Quiport settle a dispute with Ecuador in 2011 over the construction of an international airport in Quito; the claimants dropped their ICSID case after agreeing on new contractual terms.

Going further back, it helped Noble Energy settle an ICSID claim against Ecuador in 2009, convincing the state to pay US$70 million to resolve the dispute.

Recent events

The firm has been hired in several commercial arbitrations ranging from disputes over gas production plans to providing electromechanics for power plants in Ecuador – each of them several millions.

It is also acting in investment treaty cases under the China-Ecuador BIT and the Netherlands-Ecuador BIT.

Client comment

Donoso Echanique Andres Francisco of Telefónica says the firm is “very professional”, and says its approach and strategy for handling arbitrations is “clear, efficient and always adjusted to the forecast”.

What distinguishes the firm is its “ethical proposals” and knowledge of business, the client adds.

Consultant Federico Chiriboga is praised for his advice and support.

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