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GAR 100 - 9th Edition

Guevara & Gutierrez SC

18 February 2016

Won a hard-fought ICSID case against the Bolivian government

People in Who’s Who Legal: 2

Some have described Guevara & Gutiérrez as being in a class apart from other Bolivian firms when it comes to international arbitration. Senior partner Ramiro Guevara’s reputation “extends beyond Bolivia”, according to Latin Lawyer 250. He played a role in drafting the country’s 1997 Arbitration and Mediation Law, and represented aggrieved investors in treaty claims against the Bolivian government following a wave of nationalisations.

As co-counsel with Herbert Smith, he acted for a subsidiary of the United States’ Bechtel Corporation in the seminal Aguas del Tunari case at ICSID, better known as the “Cochabamba Water War”, which settled in 2006 after the claimants won on jurisdiction. Other companies to have drawn on his expertise include energy companies Rurelec and GDF Suez, Brazilian constructor OAS, ETI Telecom and Red Eléctrica de España. Guevara has also regularly advised state-run oil company YFPB on major cases.

In 2014, the firm (alongside Baker & McKenzie) helped Spain’s Red Eléctrica settle an investment treaty claim against Bolivia over the nationalisation of the country’s main electricity transmission company. The state agreed to pay Red Eléctrica over US$36 million.

Guevara teaches international commercial law at the Catholic University of Bolivia. Meanwhile, Georgetown-educated Jorge Luis Inchauste is a former general secretary of the Mediation and Arbitration Centre of the Bolivian Chamber of Commerce.

Members of the firm advised on the negotiations between Bolivia and Brazil that created an interstate pipeline, and on Bolivia’s agreement to sell electricity to the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. They also had a hand in drafting Bolivia’s current hydrocarbons law and regulations. Oil, gas and electricity generation companies are a mainstay of the firm’s client books.

Guevara & Gutiérrez is a frequent collaborator with US firm King & Spalding. The two firms have teamed up to advise Canada’s South American Silver in an investment treaty claim against Bolivia over the nationalisation of the Malku Khota mine. The UNCITRAL claim, filed in 2013, is being funded by “a large and respected international investment fund,” the company says.

Recent events

A nine-year ICSID case against Bolivia came to an end in 2015 with a US$48 million award in favour of the firm’s client, Chilean chemicals company Quiborax. The state is now trying to have the award annulled. Guevara & Gutiérrez co-counselled with Chilean firm Bofill Mir & Álvarez Jana (also in the GAR 100).

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