GAR 100 - 8th Edition

Gomm & Smith

Professional notice

This Miami boutique is taking on more Latin American treaty work

Pending cases as counsel:11
Value of pending counsel work:US$706 million
Treaty cases:2
Current arbitrator appointments:13 (of which 6 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator:2

NEW ENTRY Gomm & Smith was set up in 2009, when Florida-based lawyer Quinn Smith joined forces with Brazilian practitioner Mauricio Gomm Santos – then a consultant at US firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney and law professor at the University of Miami.

Starting life as Smith International Legal Services, the firm wanted to carve a niche as an adviser to Brazilian individuals and businesses expanding internationally, as well as US companies doing business in Latin America. Its early work saw it involved in an ICC dispute and litigation between the United States’ Bechtel and a Brazilian state power company.

The practice really began to take off in 2012 with the arrival of of counsel Diego Gosis, an Argentine lawyer who has acted as external counsel to his home government in more than 20 investment arbitrations since 2006. Gosis also retains a separate of counsel role with Guglielmino & Asociados, a Buenos Aires firm set up by the former head of the country’s ICSID defence team.

In 2013, Gomm Santos became a full partner of the firm, leading to a rebrand as Gomm & Smith.

Smith, who lectures on arbitration at a Brazilian university, sits on the global advisory board for the ICDR’s under-40 group, ICDR Young & International, and is on the North America regional coordinating committee of the ICC Court’s Young Arbitrator’s Forum. Gomm Santos was a founding member and former director of the Brazilian Arbitration Committee, and sits on its advisory council.


In addition to its Miami office, the boutique has an address in New York, where Gomm Santos is admitted to practise (he operates as a foreign legal consultant in Florida).

Who uses it?

The governments of Bolivia and Venezuela have instructed the firm on a number of treaty-based and commercial matters. In one pending matter, a long-running ICSID claim by Chilean mining company Quiborax against Bolivia, the firm was brought in by the state to replace Dechert only five weeks before the final hearing.

Other engagements have come from a sovereign instrumentality of Argentina, several Brazilian manufacturers and families, and an investment bank in Africa. Recently, the firm was instructed by a South American state-owned bank to assist in recouping US$60 million in funds stolen by a bank official.

Track record

Several of the firm’s cases still have a way to run, but it reports success in helping a Brazilian manufacturer to enforce an ICC award. The firm was able to pierce the corporate veil and hold one of the respondent’s primary shareholders responsible for the entirety of the debt.

Recent events

The firm’s defence of Bolivian state steel company Empresa Siderúrgica del Mutún (ESM) suffered a setback. In August 2014, an ICC panel allowed India’s Jindal Steel and Power to recover US$18 million in bank guarantees that had been illegally cashed by ESM. Gomm & Smith is now helping ESM to challenge that award in the Bolivian courts, and is also advising in a parallel ICC case brought by Jindal concerning the same iron ore project.

Gosis’s work with Guglielmino & Asociados saw him defend Venezuela in an ICSID claim by investors in a Caribbean island airport (which ended with a US$34 million award against the state). Venezuela also tapped the Argentine firm to replace Shearman & Sterling on two other ICSID matters: a claim by glass companies owned by US bottlemaker Owens–Illinois; and a claim by the United Kingdom’s Vestey Group over nationalised farmland.

In addition, Gosis is acting for Venezuela in a US$450 million claim brought by US shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls (a spin-off of defence contractor Northrop Grumman).

Gosis was also asked to chair an UNCITRAL claim at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, brought by two US companies against a Costa Rican state entity.

Since its inception in 2009, Gomm & Smith has focused on building nimble, efficient teams with high multicultural capabilities. The firm represents sovereigns and private parties in varied complex matters in different languages and under many arbitration rules. G&S is active in both investment and commercial arbitration, and its practitioners act as lead or co-counsel in disputes under the ICC, ICDR, ICSID, UNCITRAL, and other regional institutions’ rules. It also handles significant litigations throughout the United States.

In addition to counsel work, members of the G&S team frequently serve as arbitrators, including upon institutional appointments by ICC, ICDR, and the PCA.

Gomm & Smith practitioners are active in developing Miami as an international arbitration hub, having served on the steering committee for ICCA Miami 2014 and sitting on the Board of Directors of the Miami International Arbitration Society, and in international endeavors: Mr. Gomm is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Arbitration Association; Mr. Gosis is a member of ICC’s Commission on Arbitration and ADR and its World Business Law Institute, and serves in the Advisory Board of the FDI Moot; and Mr. Smith is a member of the ICDR Y&I Global Advisory Board and of the Regional Coordinating Committee Member for the North American Chapter of ICC-YAF. Mr. Gomm and Mr. Gosis are members of ICC’s Latin American Arbitration Group and regularly contribute to the Judicial Initiative of the Organization of American States, educating the judiciary in the Americas about best practices in international arbitration.

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