A safe pick for investment treaty work relating to Ecuador
|People in Who’s Who Legal||2|
|Pending cases as counsel||19|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$370 million|
|Treaty cases as counsel||6|
|Third-party funded cases||1|
In 2004, Pérez Bustamante & Ponce participated in the first-ever claim against Ecuador at ICSID, helping Repsol YPF to win US$13 million in a contractual claim. Remarkably, two of the firm’s partners oversaw the whole case, without any assistance from international counsel.
Not long after, the firm – one of Ecuador’s oldest – began to attract many foreign oil and gas companies affected by regulatory changes introduced by Ecuador’s former president Rafael Correa. It often pairs up with firms such as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, King & Spalding, and White & Case on investment cases.
Rodrigo Jijón, a founder and former president of the Ecuadorean Arbitration Institute, leads the international arbitration practice and is also well known for his energy law expertise. Alongside partner Juan Manuel Marchán, who is increasingly active on investment treaty matters, Jijón is active in the ICC’s Ecuadorean chapter and was a member of the commission in charge of drafting a reform to Ecuador’s Arbitration and Mediation Law. Edgar Ulloa is the other partner in the team, having been promoted in 2019.
Senior associate Alegría Jijón is the secretary of the Ecuadorean chapter of the Spanish Arbitration Club and chair of the Latin America chapter of Woman Way in Arbitration.
Who uses it?
Energy clients feature prominently on the list. Perenco, ConocoPhillips, Murphy Oil, Noble Energy and Japan’s Teikoku Oil have all turned to the firm for investment claims against Ecuador, as has Brazilian state oil and gas company Petrobras.
Chevron has also reportedly used the firm for local law advice in connection with its long-running dispute over environmental pollution in the Amazon rainforest – including in a denial of justice claim against Ecuador playing out before an arbitral tribunal in The Hague.
It has defended Occidental Petroleum and BP in local environmental litigation (the BP case was linked to the Deepwater Horizon spill).
Chinese construction companies CRBC, HydroChina and China Railway have turned to the firm for advice in investment treaty and commercial arbitration proceedings. Other clients of note include Daimler Chrysler; Brazilian construction group Odebrecht; Spain’s Telefónica; Nestlé; Hong Kong’s CK Hutchison Holdings; Panama’s Global Franchising Corporation; Australian infrastructure company Cardno; and Spain’s Maessa.
The firm partnered with Freshfields in UNCITRAL proceedings on behalf of Petrobras and its consortium partners in a claim against Ecuador concerning the nationalisation of two oil projects. The tribunal awarded the claimants US$515 million in 2018.
Alongside King & Spalding, the firm helped US company Murphy Oil win more than US$30 million in 2016 in an UNCITRAL claim against Ecuador over the state’s 99% levy on windfall oil profits.
Pairing up with White & Case, the firm helped Hong Kong conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings knock out the bulk of a US$200 million claim brought by an Ecuadorean port authority in 2015.
Another collaboration with White & Case saw the two firms help airport consortium Quiport settle a dispute with Ecuador in 2011 over the construction of an international airport in Quito; the claimants dropped their ICSID case after agreeing on new contractual terms.
The firm has been hired in several commercial arbitrations, ranging from disputes over gas production plans to providing electromechanics for power plants in Ecuador – with each matter worth several millions of dollars.
It recently acted for regular client Cardno in two domestic arbitration proceedings against Ecuador-owned electricity company CELEC in a contract dispute; the firm secured a US$20 million award for its client.
It is also acting in investment treaty cases under the China-Ecuador BIT and the Netherlands-Ecuador BIT; and advising a Russian client in a Chile-seated UNCITRAL arbitration related to the construction of a power plant.
Donoso Echanique Andres Francisco of Telefónica says the firm is “very professional”, and says its approach and strategy for handling arbitrations is “clear, efficient and always adjusted to the forecast”.
What distinguishes the firm is its “ethical proposals” and business knowledge, the client adds.
Consultant Federico Chiriboga is praised for his advice and support.
PBP is the largest full-service law firm in Ecuador, consistently considered a leader in the legal market and a trusted advisor for national and international clients. It has offices in Quito and Guayaquil and outreach throughout Ecuador.
PBP endeavors to understand clients' challenges and needs. Its multi-practice teams and has an in-depth understanding of the specific challenges of each sector. This has been evidenced by PBP`s track record as reliable legal advisors for most of the important projects that have taken place in Ecuador, as well as the most significant transactions.
PBP's team has both local and international experience. Several members have attended renowned local and international universities and have worked at first-rate law firms around the world. Furthermore, a number of its attorneys have been admitted to practice in the State of New York, District of Columbia, Spain, Chile, Colombia and other jurisdictions.
PBP has steadily been honored as Ecuadorian Firm of the Year by Who's Who Legal, and Chambers and Partners in the last decade. Also on 2019 was recognized by International Tax Review (ITR) as Ecuador Tax Firm of the Year.
PBP believes that pro bono work is inseparable from the practice of law. In 1987, it founded Fundación Fabián Ponce Ordóñez to coordinate and optimise the firm’s pro bono resources and maximise its scope.
PBP strives to be an increasingly inclusive firm and endeavors to promote the leadership and professional development of women.