GAR 100 - 15th Edition

B Cremades & Asociados

B Cremades & Asociados

Professional notice

The Spanish firm helped to secure a remarkable US$15 billion award against Malaysia

People in Who’s Who Legal2
Pending cases as counsel6
Treaty cases as counsel2
Third-party funded cases2
Current arbitrator appointments19 (8 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator1

Bernardo Cremades followed an unusual career path, starting out as an arbitrator aged 26 then moving into advocacy work. He has appeared as counsel or arbitrator in more than 370 proceedings, and now focuses most of his time on arbitrator work. Among other roles, he is a member of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration’s governing board and a former vice president of the LCIA. He is a founding member of the Spanish Arbitration Club and was, for many years, president of the Spanish Court of Arbitration.

His name is on many significant awards at ICSID, including cases concerning the formation of an arbitration agreement under an investment treaty, the relationship between contract and treaty claims, the effect of illegality on investment protection and the definition of an investment. He is said to have had a significant influence on the drafting of the 1998 Spanish Arbitration Law.

In 2013, the King of Spain presented Cremades with the Grand Cross of the Order of St Raymond of Peñafort, recognising his services to the administration of justice and the study of law. He has also received a medallion from the Arab Association for International Arbitration, recognising him as an “ideal arbitrator in Euro–Arab arbitration”, and in 2017 was elected to Spain’s Royal Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation.

The firm that bears his name, founded in 1969, is home to around 10 lawyers devoted to international arbitration. It has a reputation for being Spain’s unofficial university of arbitration.

As well as advising on arbitrations directly, the firm also regularly advises third-party funders on their potential investments in international arbitrations.

The founder’s son, Bernardo Cremades Jr, joined the firm in 2013 from Curtis Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle in New York, where he defended Venezuela in ICSID cases. He has been visible in many of B Cremades & Asociados’ recent successes as counsel.

Track record

The firm’s most phenomenal result to date is an award for US$14.92 billion plus interest against Malaysia. Teaming up with barristers Paul Cohen and Elisabeth Mason, the firm acted for the heirs to the Sultan of Sulu in the claim under a 19th century lease agreement. A Spanish arbitrator issued the award after transferring the seat of arbitration from Spain to France when a Spanish court rescinded his appointment. The case has spawned Spanish and French litigation as well as a criminal complaint against the arbitrator.

As counsel, Cremades Sr won the reinstatement of an annulled award before Spain’s Constitutional Court in a €600 million inheritance battle between relatives of a prominent deceased aristocrat in Malaga. The court ruling set a high standard for review of arbitral awards on public policy grounds, potentially bringing an end to a streak of controversial set-aside decisions from the Madrid courts.

The firm reports two successes for Gas Natural in pricing arbitrations against another Spanish energy company. Several billion dollars were at stake in each case.

Other highlights include a US$36 million award in 2015 for a company owned by a Bolivian politician against a Mexican cement group, an US$8 million ICSID award for Spanish roadbuilder Elsamex against Honduras and €61 million for Spanish shareholders in a multinational food group.

It also helped sportswear brand Puma obtain a rare Spanish court ruling holding two Spanish arbitrators professionally liable for the annulment of an award as a result of their exclusion of the third arbitrator from deliberations.   

Recent events

The firm is advising two pharmaceutical companies in a US$200 million investment treaty claim against Venezuela over the alleged expropriation of their assets.

It also acts for a Panamanian entity owned by a prominent Honduran family in an ICSID claim against Honduras valued at more than US$800 million. The claim relates to the forced liquidation of a bank and the confiscation of various companies.

The firm helped the operator of a Panamanian hydroelectric plant win a US$23 million award in a FIDIC construction arbitration. The Supreme Court of Costa Rica confirmed the award in 2021. The firm also defeated a separate ICC arbitration against the same client at the jurisdictional stage.

It won an ICC arbitration for a Spanish consultant against a company in the French aerospace sector, and helped Austrian contractor Doppelmayr reach a US$22 million settlement with a Bolivian state entity over a cable car system.

José María López Useros was promoted to the partnership and Rodrigo Cortés was named of counsel at the start of 2022.

Who We Are

B. Cremades & Asociados was founded in 1969 by Professor Bernardo M. Cremades. Since then, it has consolidated its reputation as a leading firm in international law with particular expertise in international commercial and investment arbitration.

We have a team of approximately 20 lawyers with a high degree of specialization in our strategic areas. Our principal practice areas are national and international dispute resolution, and we also advise on corporate, financial, administrative and tax law.

Unparalleled Experience in International Arbitration

B. Cremades & Asociados is the pioneer of arbitration in Spain (both commercial and investment protection arbitration). Bernardo M. Cremades, the managing partner of the firm, has participated as counsel or arbitrator in more than 370 arbitration proceedings. He is one of the most experienced arbitration practitioners in the world and the undisputed leader in the Spanish-speaking market.

Bernardo M. Cremades has been responsible for some of the most significant doctrinal developments in the history of arbitration, including the recognition of the lex mercatoria, the formation of the arbitration agreement under investment protection treaties, and the definition of the term “investment” in international law.

The prestigious publication Chambers & Partners describes Bernardo M. Cremades as a “legendary arbitrator” and his team as a “leading international practice, representing high-profile clients from across the world.” Global Arbitration Review classes our firm as “Spain’s unofficial university of arbitration” and adds that nearly half of the professionals listed in its guide for Spain are members of our office or have worked here at some point in their careers. Who’s Who Legal refers to Bernardo M. Cremades as the “number one practitioner in Spain for commercial arbitration” and “one of the top names in the industry.” The Arab Association for International Arbitration (AAIA) has recognized Bernardo M. Cremades as an “Ideal Arbitrator in Euro-Arab Arbitration.”

Our Team

In the arbitration team of B. Cremades & Asociados all our lawyers enjoy international profiles, allowing us to provide advice on both common law and civil law matters. Several of its attorneys are members of the Bar in jurisdictions other than Spain, including jurisdictions within the European Union, the United States and Latin America.

Our attorneys are thoroughly familiar with the most commonly used arbitration rules, including the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID); the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC); the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL); the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC); the American Arbitration Association (AAA) and its International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR); the Permanent Court of Arbitration of the United Nations (PCA); the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA); the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC); the Association of Swiss Chambers of Commerce; the German Institution of Arbitration (DIS); the Inter-American Commercial Arbitration Commission (IACAC); the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); The Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA); the Lima Chamber of Commerce (CCL); the Civil and Commercial Court of Arbitration (CIMA); and the Court of Arbitration of Madrid.

We are accustomed to handling international disputes involving more than one jurisdiction or arbitral seat. We regularly monitor and advise on local arbitration procedures outside Spain when a high degree of sophistication is required in public or private international law.

Our arbitration team advises clients before, during and after the arbitration proceeding. These services include:

  • Advice and representation in arbitration proceedings under different rules, both nationally and internationally;
  • Assistance with the drafting of arbitration clauses and the design of ADR mechanisms;
  • Negotiations with other parties before, during and after the proceeding;
  • Applications for provisional measures and injunctive relief related to arbitral proceedings;
  • Advice and representation during the search for funding, as well as during the negotiations with the funder;
  • Strategic consulting services with other firms on arbitration matters;
  • Supervision and litigation consulting services related to arbitration proceedings (in tribunals of any jurisdiction of the world);
  • The recognition, enforcement and annulment of arbitral awards.

The partners in our firm enjoy wide international recognition. Several of our lawyers appear in the panels of the most prestigious arbitration institutions throughout the world and frequently are invited to lecture or speak in international events devoted to arbitration or public international law.

Investor-State Arbitration

Our lawyers have participated in many significant investment arbitrations as counsel, party-appointed arbitrator or presiding arbitrator, including some doctrinally decisive arbitrations, and have unparalleled expertise in this field. Current instructions as counsel include the representation of claimants in investor-State proceedings against sovereign entities in Latin America, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Our attorneys are thoroughly acquainted with the particularities of investment arbitration, as well as the applicable procedural rules and the extensive case law. We have participated in investor-State proceedings initiated as a result of expropriation (direct or indirect) and other violations of the substantive protections contained in international instruments, such as bilateral and multilateral investment protection treaties and other agreements to promote investments, as well as international administrative contracts. Our experience includes arbitrations pursuant to the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Some of the investor-State arbitrations in which we have participated resulted in arbitral awards which are regularly cited in arbitral texts and jurisprudence, including Compañía de Aguas del Aconquija, S.A. and Vivendi Universal v. The Republic of Argentina and Elsamex, S.A. v. The Republic of Honduras. The publication Global Arbitration Review says the name of Bernardo M. Cremades appears “on many of the most significant awards at ICSID.” For example, the arbitral award issued in Salini Costruttori S.p.A. and Italstrade S.p.A. v. The Kingdom of Morocco has become a key decision in international law in relation to the definition of an “investment” under a bilateral investment treaty. In Lanco International, Inc. v. Argentina, the decision on jurisdiction was the first time that an arbitral tribunal was found to have jurisdiction to arbitrate a dispute between a foreign investor and the Republic of Argentina. The dissenting opinion of Bernardo M. Cremades in Fraport AG Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide v. Republic of the Philippines is an international reference on the analysis of the legality of a given foreign investment.

Our arbitration team works closely with our tax department in order to design and implement corporate structures which on one hand maximize tax efficiency and on the other hand minimize political risk. This is particularly important when there is a risk that an investment will be detrimentally affected by state measures and thus requires protection under an international treaty.

Commercial Arbitration

In the field of commercial arbitration, B. Cremades & Asociados enjoys national and international prestige. We have strong expertise in arbitrations relating to various sectors, including energy, oil, gas, natural resources, construction, engineering, pharmaceuticals, transportation, telecommunications, intellectual property, national and international procurement, corporate arbitrations, joint ventures, international sale of goods and distribution contracts.

We also have considerable experience in arbitrations relating to capital markets and the banking sector, including proceedings arising from the issue of preferred securities by Spanish savings banks. We also have significant experience in disputes involving FIDIC construction contracts.

Some of the international commercial arbitration cases in which members of our firm have participated also resulted in decisions of undisputable importance for the development of international arbitration. For example, Pabalk Ticaret Ltd. v. Norsolor, S.A., in which Bernardo M. Cremades was president of the tribunal, was the first occasion an arbitral tribunal applied lex mercatoria to render a decision. Angel M. Tejada obtained the first annulment of an arbitral award due to the violation of the principle of collegiality in the deliberations of an arbitral tribunal.

B. Cremades & Asociados has an excellent network of contacts with arbitration specialists from all over the world and, in particular, in the main arbitration venues. B. Cremades & Asociados is a member of TAGLaw, an association of quality law firms with a presence in over 80 countries.

Alternative Dispute Resolution – ADR

Our firm also has experience in the structuring and presentation of disputes before dispute adjudication boards. Members of our firm have recently served in dispute adjudication boards in major infrastructure construction projects in Qatar, Ecuador and Egypt.

Arbitration Funding

The firm enjoys excellent relations with the main third party funders of arbitration and regularly advises its clients on the fundraising process. The firm also advises litigation funders when facing an investment in a claim, issuing legal opinions when necessary. Members of the firm have published widely on third party funding topics.

Website: www.cremades.com

Get unlimited access to all Global Arbitration Review content