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GAR 100 - 5th Edition


05 March 2012

One of the first firms to embrace international arbitration in Spain, Garrigues said goodbye to leading arbitrator José María Alonso at the end of 2011

People in Who’s Who:
Pending cases as counsel:
Value of pending counsel work:
US$1.2 billion
Treaty cases:
Current arbitrator appointments:
7 (of which 4 is as sole or chair)
No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:

In 1981, Garrigues was the first Spanish firm to create a disputes department.

In the 1990s, as Spanish companies became more active abroad, it received its first international arbitration and in 1999 decided to invest resources in arbitration capability.

Initially, the practice area was led by José María Alonso and Miguel Moscardó, but they decided to recruit a rising star from the counsel ranks at the ICC – Fernando Mantilla-Serrano (he would later be poached by Shearman & Sterling).

Together, they worked on a dispute about the ownership of Peru’s largest gold mine.

At the same time, José María Alonso began to emerge as one of the leading Spanish-speaking arbitrators. He was one of the founders, and the first chair, of the Spanish Arbitration Club (and remains its honorary president). When Mantillo-Serrano moved, he became the focal point for the group.

Alonso left the firm at the end of 2011 to join Baker & McKenzie, having already passed the reins to Carlos de los Santos.

As well as de los Santos, Francisco Manuel Serrano takes the lead regularly on work. He was the partner in charge of one of the firm’s largest ever instructions in the area (three inter-linked ICC arbitrations). Meanwhile, there has been investment in the junior ranks, with Ana Garrote Fernández-Díez and Diego Vicente Pérez in Madrid, and Blanca Rodríguez-Piñero in Seville all promoted to the partnership in 2010.


The firm has offices across Spain, and in Tangiers, London, Paris, New York, Warsaw, Brussels, Casablanca, Shanghai and Rio de Janaeiro. It has a network relationship with firms in Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Chile and Mexico.

Who uses it?

Volvo, BBVA, Endesa and YPF are all clients.

Track record

Lately, it’s been settlement after settlement, the firm reports.

Recent events

After three promotions in 2010, things have been quiet for the arbitration group. A member of the practice returned after a secondment with Skadden Arps in New York, where he worked on investment cases. The firm opened its office in Rio de Janeiro, and the group as a whole observed that the financial crisis is making clients more willing to settle.

De los Santos and Serrano were also among the few arbitration practitioners in Spain to openly criticise the Spanish parliament’s long-awaited reforms to the 2003 arbitration law. In an article for GAR, the pair suggested the reforms were a missed opportunity.



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