GAR 100 - 10th Edition

Ferrere

Professional notice

A long-running ICSID case against Ecuador saw a final award

People in Who’s Who Legal2
Pending cases as counsel17
Value of pending counsel workUS$5 billion
Treaty cases5
Current arbitrator appointments4 (of which 1 is as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator2

Ferrere is the largest law firm in Uruguay and one of the top two firms in the country, according to GAR’s sister publication Latin Lawyer. It’s also the only South American firm to have pursued serious cross-border expansion without the backing of a foreign firm, setting up offices in Bolivia, Paraguay and most recently Ecuador.

The firm began to cooperate with US and UK firms on cross-border disputes in the late 1990s, and set up a dedicated dispute resolution department around that time, headed by construction partner Julio Iribarne. The collapse of some large private banks in Uruguay in 2002 meant the firm soon found itself co-counselling with arbitration teams at Allen & Overy, Shearman & Sterling and Arnold & Porter. It represented JP MorganChase, Credit Suisse and Commerzbank in a pair of ICC cases against the Uruguayan government worth more than US$1 billion – and its success in those cases helped the arbitration group grow.

The practice received a major boost in 2015 when it founded a new office in Quito staffed by a team from Ecuadorean firm Paz Horowitz. The team included Javier Robalino, a former King & Spalding lawyer who featured in GAR’s “45 under 45” ranking of younger practitioners in 2011.

Robalino now co-chairs the arbitration practice alongside Sandra González in Montevideo, who is overall head of the disputes department. Other names to know are Andrés Cerisola, Ferrere’s managing partner and a well-known arbitrator in the country; and Andrés Donoso, a former member of Ecuador’s hydrocarbons ministry.

Network

Besides its five offices in Uruguay, the firm is also based in Santa Cruz and La Paz (Bolivia), Quito and Manta (Ecuador) and Asunción (Paraguay).

Who uses it

Clients that have used the team include ConocoPhillips, Schlumberger, Hyundai Engineering & Construction, Austrian technology group Andritz, and India’s Jindal Steel & Power.

It has worked for private equity groups such as Elliott & Associates; Bluecrest Capital Management;.and Chile’s Linzor Capital (which has retained it for a US$100million ICSID claim against Uruguay, alongside Latham & Watkins). It’s also rumoured to have advised Argentina’s national oil and gas operator YPF in Uruguayan court proceeedings related to a US$1.6 billion ICC dispute over gas exports.

Track record

In 2015, the firm helped Austrian technology group Andritz secure a €40 million payment to settle a claim against the Finnish–Chilean owners of Uruguay’s largest pulp mill project, Montes del Plata. (It partnered with Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr on the case.)

Another co-counsel pairing (this time with White & Case) saw the firm help Jindal Steel secure a U$22.5 million award against a Bolivian state mining company. The award was later set aside by a Bolivian court, but the parties have since entered settlement talks – also pausing another arbitration worth US$100 million relating to the same iron ore project.

Recent events

Javier Robalino in Quito saw a long-running ICSID case on behalf of ConocoPhillips subsidiary Burlington Resources come to an end in February 2017, when a tribunal awarded his client almost US$380 million in compensation for the expropriation of two oil blocks (Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and King & Spalding also acted for the claimant). The tribunal also awarded Ecuador US$40 million in a counterclaim for environmental damage to the Amazon rainforest (significantly less than the US$2 billion the state had sought).

FERRERE is the only multi-jurisdictional South American law firm. It has 200 attorneys throughout Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay, and stands out for its US-style structure, methodologies and policies. The firm has developed international standards and homogeneous service across all its offices, guaranteed by integrated, vertical practice groups and procedures, and a firm-wide training programme.

FERRERE is exceptional in the four jurisdictions in which it operates. It is a fully merit-based organisation that does not allow relatives of partners to join the firm. It has an early mandatory retirement policy and great emphasis has been placed on promoting diversity, with women making up 30 per cent of the partnership. 

Many of FERRERE's lawyers have US or European degrees and have worked for global law firms, financial institutions or at the headquarters of major multinationals. Regional and international companies, as well as global law firms, take advantage of the firm’s footprint to complete their coverage of the region.

The firm has invested decades of hard work in building sophisticated practice groups dedicated to both areas of law and industry. The firm’s industry specialisation is a differentiating feature that, along with cutting-edge technology, allows it to provide clients with outstanding quality legal advice and business solvency with a high level of cost efficiency. FERRERE’s regional structure and depth of resources also enable it to handle the most complex cross-border and multi-jurisdictional transactions. The firm regularly deploys members of its highly specialised talent pool to any jurisdiction where they may be required, at any time.

FERRERE Bolivia

After a decade of sustained growth, FERRERE’s Bolivia office is now a recognised leader in this jurisdiction, and one of the second largest firms in the country. With offices in La Paz and Santa Cruz, it provides clients with specialised services in all major practice areas, representing many of the largest multinationals, most international banks and almost all multilateral organisations operating in Bolivia.

FERRERE Ecuador

FERRERE launched in Ecuador in 2015 and in January 2017 announced the opening of its third office in Guayaquil. FERRERE’s establishment in Ecuador has been an important step in consolidating the strategy of offering international-class services across all four jurisdictions and positioning the firm as a leader in Latin America. The Ecuador team has a strong transactional focus and broad experience in dispute resolution, including local and international arbitration, tax and regulatory matters, and the energy, banking and finance sectors. The Manta office focuses on corporate, litigation, labour, agribusiness, tax and maritime law matters.

FERRERE Paraguay

FERRERE has established itself as a leading law firm in Paraguay, following more than a decade of steady growth and participation in some of the largest deals in the market. The full-service office specialises in advising multinational clients on local and regional operations, including establishing and managing a local presence, M&A and financing transactions. The office represents some of the biggest multinational companies and almost all multilaterals operating in Paraguay.

FERRERE Uruguay

FERRERE is Uruguay’s largest law firm and the only one ranked Band 1 in all practice areas by the leading legal directories. The firm was chosen in a countrywide survey of university students as among the top three “dream companies to work for” in a ranking led by the US company Google. FERRERE has a unique strategy based on highly specialised practice groups covering industry sectors as well as areas of legal expertise. This strategy, facilitated by its size but also consciously developed over two decades, has resulted in services of the highest quality and cost efficiency for its clients.

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