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GAR 100 - 9th Edition

Philippi Prietocarrizosa & Uría

18 February 2016

A Chilean–Colombian tie-up with Spanish backing

People in Who’s Who Legal: 1
Pending cases as counsel: 2
Value of pending counsel work: US$135 million
Treaty cases: 0
Current arbitrator appointments: 14 (of which 6 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator: 1

Philippi Prietocarrizosa & Uría was formed in 2015 from a merger between Philippi Yrarrázaval Pulido & Brunner in Chile and Prietocarrizosa in Colombia – the first time two major Latin American firms have merged across borders. Spain’s Uría Menéndez has taken a 30 per cent stake in the new entity, which plans to acquire Mexican and Peruvian members before fully merging with the Spanish firm.

Of the two legacy firms, Philippi Yrarrázaval had the bigger international arbitration profile: it made its debut in the 2014 edition of the GAR 100. That was largely down to the hire of partner Cristián Conejero Roos in 2013 to head the arbitration practice. A Chilean national, he joined after six years with Iberian firm Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira, where he’d been based in Paris, Madrid and São Paulo. A former counsel at the ICC Court, he also featured in GAR’s “45 under 45” ranking of leading young practitioners in 2011.

His team includes partner Ricardo Riesco, who previously worked with Clifford Chance, and senior associate Francesco Campora, who has experience with Chadbourne & Parke’s disputes team in New York.

The Chilean firm is also home to senior counsel Jaime Irarrázabal, a much-respected arbitrator who helped Chile negotiate several free trade agreements and also had a hand in drafting the Chilean statute that enacted the UNCITRAL Model Law in 2004.

As for the Colombian side of the merger, younger partner Julio César González in Bogotá does some arbitration alongside his litigation work; he’s a member of various under-40 groups at the LCIA, SCC and ICDR.

Who uses it?

Numerous clients in Chile’s energy and mining sectors, including Barrick Gold, BHP Billiton, Antofagasta Minerals (the mining arm of Chile’s Luksic Group) and Mexico’s Southern Copper Corporation. Other names include brewery group SAB Miller, Argentine fisheries group Pesel and Spanish pharmaceuticals group Laboratorios Kin.

The firm has also been advising a group of Chilean energy investors, Consorcio Eólico, in a pair of arbitrations worth US$40 million against its Indian partner in relation to a wind-power joint venture in the south of Chile.

Track record

In 2014, a team led by Conejero Roos helped BHP Billiton successfully settled a pair of ICDR claims against Glencore concerning copper concentrate contracts worth US$200 million; and also helped an affiliate of the client settle a smaller dispute with Skanska.

Another settlement came in 2013 in a US$1.6 billion dispute between shareholders of a Chilean supplier of oxygen and inert gases – with the client receiving shares worth US$400 million. It has also helped Antofagasta Minerals settle a US$15 million dispute with a drilling company.

At his old firm Cuatrecasas, Conejero Roos helped a consortium of US and Spanish investors win an ICC award worth US$45 million against the Dominican Republic in 2012 in a dispute over a toll-road concession. The state paid the award in the following year.

Recent events

Among other matters, the firm has been representing a mining company in an ICDR arbitration against a major commodities trader, with claims exceeding US$200 million.

Client comment

Adrián Pastor Torres from SAB Miller subsidiary Backus – which used to the firm to defend a US$10 million claim by a Chilean malt supplier – called Cristián Conejero Roos “a brilliant lawyer”. In particular, Torres praised his desire to obtain a favourable settlement, which “saved a lot of time and resources for both parties”.

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