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GAR 100 - 9th Edition

Garrigues

18 February 2016

One of Spain’s most established arbitration teams

Pending cases as counsel: 11
Value of pending counsel work: US$2.5 billion
Treaty cases: 0

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 instruction in an international arbitration and, in 1999, decided to build specific capability in this area.

Initially, work was led by José María Alonso (who left the firm in 2012 to become managing partner of Baker & McKenzie’s Madrid office) and Miguel Moscardó (who left to set up his own firm in 2009). Both former partners recruited a then rising star from the counsel ranks at the ICC: Fernando Mantilla-Serrano, now of Latham & Watkins. The team made its name working on, among other things, a dispute about the ownership of Peru’s largest gold mine.

Since then, others have come to the fore, including Carlos de los Santos, who now heads the practice from Madrid. He is flanked by Francisco Serrano, who led one of the firm’s largest-ever instructions in the area (three interlinked ICC arbitrations). Other names to know are Jaime Luis Iglesias (who was transferred to the firm’s São Paulo office in 2014) and Alberto Pimenta.

Network

The firm has partners with international arbitration experience in numerous Spanish offices besides Madrid, as well as in Portugal (Lisbon and Porto) and further afield – Shanghai, Tangiers, London, Paris, New York, Warsaw and Brussels.

In 2013, the firm broke off a 10-year alliance with a network of law firms in Latin America, as it seeks to set up more of its own offices in the region. Garrigues now has offices in Mexico City, Lima, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Bogotá.

Who uses it?

The practice serves major Spanish names in construction, energy, banking and finance, and distribution and services. These include BBVA, Santander, Endesa and Iberdrola. It also represents Portuguese bank Banif, car manufacturers Volvo and Kia, and insurer Aegon. The government of Namibia is another client.

Track record

One notable matter saw the firm knock out the bulk of a US$177 million claim against its client over a construction project in the Middle East. In the final award, the client was ordered to pay only US$540,000, with the other side bearing the costs. It has also recently defeated two claims of more than US$100 million.

The firm also acted as counsel for Spanish insurer Aegon in an ICC arbitration regarding a “change of control” clause in a joint venture agreement with Banco Sabadell, for which the firm negotiated a €450 million settlement in the client’s favour.

Another matter saw Garrigues help the government of Namibia to reverse a Spanish court’s injunction against an ICC arbitration in Paris.

Recent events

In late 2015, disputes partner Fernando Pantaleón left the firm after 18 years to accept an appointment to the Spanish Supreme Court. A highly regarded lawyer in the country, he had recently successfully defended King Juan Carlos of Spain in a paternity suit.

Garrigues helped Spanish TV channel operator Mediapro knock out a significant part of a €200 million claim brought by Spain’s Grupo Prisa over sports broadcasting rights, in what the local press had dubbed “the football war”. Prisa was reportedly awarded around €77 million.

The firm continues to act for Spanish construction group Obrascón Huarte Lain in an ICC claim against a Qatari state-backed entity over the cancellation of a €1.7 billion contract to build a medical centre in Doha.

Client comment

Iñigo Cisneros of Mediapro commended the business knowledge of the Garrigues team, noting their “conscientious and tireless work”.

Tomás López of Amadeus IT Group notes that the firm is pragmatic and has a “particularly good business view when dealing with complex cases.”

Tomás Alfaro of Aegon praises Garrigues’ “amazing work”, singling out partner Alberto Pimenta. He says he “would definitely recommend them to anyone for an important arbitration”, highlighting the firm’s “professional and resourceful” working style and “amazing thought leadership in legal matters”. He adds that they “get great results”.

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