GAR 100 - 15th Edition

Perez Bustamante & Ponce

Perez Bustamante & Ponce

Professional notice

A Halliburton subsidiary is using the firm in a claim against Ecuador’s national oil company

People in Who’s Who Legal2
People in Future Leaders2
Pending cases as counsel22
Value of pending counsel workUS$500 million
Treaty cases as counsel5
Third-party funded cases0

In 2004, Pérez Bustamante & Ponce participated in the first ever ICSID arbitration against Ecuador, helping Repsol YPF to win US$13 million in the 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-Balladares, who has worked on a host of investment disputes and is arbitration secretary of the Quito Chamber of Commerce Arbitration and Mediation Centre, is the other partner in the team.

The team’s experience in ICSID cases will prove useful after Ecuador ratified the ICSID Convention in 2021 – returning to the treaty that it denounced over a decade earlier.

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 taken advice from the firm in investment treaty and commercial arbitration proceedings. Other clients of note include DaimlerChrysler, 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.

Track record

As co-counsel with Freshfields, Pérez Bustamante represented Petrobras and its consortium partners in an UNCITRAL claim against Ecuador over the nationalisation of two oil projects, securing a US$515 million award in 2018.

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. It worked with King & Spalding on that matter.

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.

Recent events

Pérez Bustamante is advising a subsidiary of US oil company Halliburton in an UNCITRAL claim against Ecuador’s national oil company, Petroecuador.

The firm is working with White & Case representing Corporación Quiport in UNCITRAL proceedings concerning Quito Airport.

The firm continues to act in investment treaty cases under the China–Ecuador BIT and the Netherlands–Ecuador BIT. It is advising a Russian client in a Chile-seated UNCITRAL arbitration relating to the construction of a power plant.

Client comment

Donoso Echanique Andres Francisco of Telefónica says the firm is “very professional”, with its approach and strategy for handling arbitrations “clear, efficient and always adjusted to the forecast”.

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 and in 2021 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. This has led to it being named as Pro Bono Firm of the Year by Latin Lawyer in 2020 and as Latin America Pro Bono Firm of the Year by Chambers and Partners in 2021.

PBP strives to be an increasingly inclusive firm and endeavors to promote the leadership and professional development of women.

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