Unrivalled in Argentina for its international disputes work, M & M Bomchil has been lead or co-counsel to investors in seminal ICSID cases arising from Argentina’s 2001 financial crisis, with clients including CMS Gas, Azurix, Enron, Camuzzi and Siemens. The firm also continues to represent Chilean gas clients in arbitrations and litigation spawned by the country’s gas crisis of 2004. The founder and lynchpin of the arbitration practice is Guido Tawil, who was until recently the co-chair of the IBA arbitration committee. Although he has now stepped down from that role, he remains a member of the ICCA council, LCIA court and ICC Latin American arbitration group. Tawil also regularly sits as an arbitrator at ICSID, where he is currently hearing a DR-CAFTA claim against El Salvador and two claims against Venezuela.
- People in Who’s Who:
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$0.5 billion
- Treaty cases:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 5 (of which 1 are as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
Another well-regarded practitioner is Rafael Manóvil, a professor at Buenos Aires University who was recently made a member of Argentina’s National Law Academy in recognition of his academic writing. Manóvil also sits as an arbitrator and is currently hearing a US$700 million case under the rules of the Buenos Aires stock exchange.
The firm has had a busy time of late dealing with annulment matters. With King & Spalding it saw off Argentina’s bid to annul the Azurix award but was less successful with one for Enron. Its US$106 million award was annulled in October 2010 to the consternation of many commentators. Although Enron has now resubmitted its original claim to ICSID, M & M Bomchil isn’t expected to take part in the new proceedings.
On the commercial front, the firm has represented Spanish energy company Endesa as respondent in a US$600 million ICC dispute and won the cancellation of an arbitral award against Endesa in the Argentine courts. For the most part, the firm is coy about naming its clients but reports recent work on behalf of international companies in the IT and retail sectors under ICC and UNCITRAL rules. The firm is also representing a Chilean gas company in AAA-ICDR proceedings against another Argentine law firm over the interpretation of a success-fee clause.
Tawil formally stepped down as the co-chair of the IBA arbitration committee at a gala dinner at the IBA conference in Vancouver. Reflecting on his two-year term he said that his greatest achievement was overseeing the production of revised rules on the taking of evidence in international arbitration, which are now translated into seven languages. The current co-chair, Judith Gill, said she succeeded in making the committee’s voice heard “from Cairo to Kiev, from Milan to Mexico.”
Since relinquishing this role, Tawil has become chair of a new Latin American arbitration association, open to all those with an interest in practice in the region.
The CEO of one Argentine company in the food industry commends M & M Bomchil for the “high professionalism and dedication” of its partners and a young but “very good” arbitration team. In particular he highlights the firm’s high ethical standards, “which are sometimes very difficult to find in our country.” Peter Gnam of Siemens calls Tawil “responsive, creative and good value.”