Latin America

Mexico

Dispute Resolution


Mexico : AN INTRODUCTION

Contributed by Jaime Guerra, and Sergio Cabañas, Guerra González y Asociados SC. The attention on emerging markets was first drawn by the so-called BRIC countries in the early 2000s; however, it seems that only China could live up to the expectations according to financial specialists, with the rest of the group evidencing a stall in their growth rates.

In the meantime, Mexico has been positioning itself as a very strong and interesting destination for foreign investment, so it is not a coincidence that recently coined economical terms like MINT, MIST and the Next-Eleven (N-11) all include Mexico as one of the top prospects for investment among emerging markets. The reason for this is that in most industries, Mexico generally has higher margins and is more profitable than most of the other similarly developed countries; it has a stable economy and is not prone to changing its legal framework radically, as well as its vicinity to the USA and the logistical benefit this entails.

Although the last two years have had a slow start in Mexico's goal for economic expansion, international experts agree that financial indicators in the country point to a steady yearly growth of around 3% to 4% of Gross Domestic Product for the next couple of years. This is due, in part, to the announcement from the Mexican Government of a set of key constitutional, fiscal, financial, education, labour, telecommunication and energy reforms that, along with the approval of their corresponding secondary laws, should lay the grounds for potential private investment.

One area that has shown very positive activity is the manufacturing sector, mainly due to the fact that Mexico has already attracted the confidence of many of the biggest players in the aerospace and automotive industries, which have invested large sums in transferring their production from other countries to new and modern facilities in Mexico, with an experienced workforce and low wages (an advantage now lost by China). There is a forecast of steady growth over the next 15 years.

Another area that will be in the spotlight is the traditionally government-run energy sector. Once the reforms are implemented and the sector is opened up, the government will offer licences and profit-sharing contracts to private investors who will provide for the much-needed infrastructure in the exploration of offshore oil and onshore gas reserves, as well as participating in the production of electricity, projecting a great boost in the Mexican economy.

Nevertheless, one factor that could affect how investors approach the opening up of the energy sector is the tax regime imposed by the Government, especially the Hydrocarbon Revenue Law, which has been criticised, among other things, for creating significant unnecessary fiscal risks for investors; inhibiting the participation by private Mexican investors in the petroleum industry; and more importantly from the dispute resolution/litigation point of view, leaving many issues to be decided in the Contracts, thereby creating significant possibilities for conflicts.

Lastly, we should mention the negative trend in the construction sector, which has shown a consecutive fall for the last years, possibly due to the struggling financing sector - especially involving private institutions dedicated to fund housing and real estate development (known in Mexico as SOFOMES).

Statistics reveal that more than 35% of recent Concursos involved companies from the manufacturing sector; around 30% involved companies from the services sector; 15% involved companies from the commerce sector; 15% involved companies from the construction sector; and the rest involved companies belonging to the transportation, agriculture and mining sectors.

However, before 2008, there were more than 60 private financial institutions that funded around 40% of housing and real estate projects throughout the country, the other 60% being funded by banks. The 2008 crisis paralysed the construction sector, resulting in a lack of liquidity of the SOFOMES, and by 2012, only five of them survived to handle less than 5% of the market.

Between 2013 and 2014, three of those five institutions filed for a Concurso Mercantil - as the Mexican insolvency proceeding is known - posing a combined record of USD12 billion in debt, seeking to restructure their financial situation.

For that reason, one of the potential hurdles faced by clients is recovering their investment and, moreover, trying to recover it from an insolvent debtor.

In dealing with insolvent debtors, creditors trying to recover as much value as possible (specially unsecured creditors) are often forced to request a federal judge to declare the debtor in Concurso. This is the proceeding created with the objective of providing protection to insolvent companies aiming for a conciliation stage where they can reach an agreement with its creditors to avoid bankruptcy by reorganising the business to become viable again - not only improving their chances of survival but also safeguarding their creditors' interests and position in a much faster proceeding.

Once the Concurso is granted, secured creditors are free either to participate in the business reorganisation to claim the value of their security interest, or to continue with proceedings that have already commenced in order to enforce their security (provided that their security is not over attached assets). If they cannot recover the debt in full from the sale proceeds of the secured property, these creditors can also claim the outstanding balance by participating in the business reorganisation as unsecured creditors.

However, the Concurso is not the ideal scenario for unsecured creditors of an insolvent debtor with few assets to collect from, since any outstanding debts are considered to have fallen and all existing claims against the company are stayed (except for the proceedings to enforce a mortgage or pledge that belongs to secured creditors). Also, most importantly, unsecured creditors rank last in the collection preference order of the insolvency proceeding, recovering their money from whatever is left from the bankruptcy estate after bankruptcy expenses, secured creditors' claims, employment and tax claims and claims of creditors with special privileges are paid.

Nonetheless, Mexico has given investors the confidence to rely on its economic and financial potential in the short and mid-terms by improving its regulations on protecting investors, contract enforcement and resolving insolvency. This is shown in the World Bank's 'Doing Business Report', which places Mexico among the top spots in the Latin America & Caribbean Region, especially in the resolving insolvency category, where Mexico is not only above the Latin American average of 2.9 years with 1.8 years taken to recover loans, but most importantly, with an estimated recovery rate of 67.6 cents on the dollar against the 31.4 cents on the dollar average of the rest of the region.

Specialists agree that Mexico may have laid down the conditions for long-term steady growth but only time will tell.

Due to the number of tables in this section, the editorial is in alphabetical order by firm name.

Dispute Resolution - Mexico

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Basic facts about the department
- 7 partners
- 20 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Large team with a footprint throughout Mexico and offices in Mexico City, Monterrey, Juárez, Guadalajara and Tijuana. Experienced in dispute resolution, including arbitration and bankruptcy and restructuring matters. Well known for its involvement in cross-border litigation for a large international client base. 

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"These lawyers develop a great relationship with the client and have an excellent command of the Mexican legal system. They give good explanations and approach things in an innovative way."  

What's new? David Márquez-Lechuga was promoted to partner. 

Notable practitioners 

Head of department Javier Navarro-Velasco is highlighted by peers for his strong standing in litigation, which complements his extensive experience in bankruptcy, insolvency and reorganisation proceedings.

Significant clients Daimler Financial Services México, Whirlpool, Yahoo!, PEMEX.

Basic facts about the department
- 1 partner 
- 10 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Litigation department handles commercial, civil and criminal litigation. The team is particularly recognised for its expertise in real estate and labour litigation. Frequently represents a raft of multinational clients. 

Notable practitioners 

Hector Calatayud is the key client contact.

Basic facts about the department
- 3 partners
- 2 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Long-standing firm recognised as a litigation boutique advising both local and international clients. Acts as counsel for both plaintiffs and defendants in local and federal courts.

Work highlights Represented a governmental energy company in successfully revoking a sentence against the client totalling USD3 billion. 

Notable practitioners 

Miguel Ángel Hernández-Romo Valencia is an experienced and prominent figure in the Mexican market, particularly with regards to litigation. Peers describe him as "a famous litigator."  

Basic facts about the department
- 4 partners

What the team is known for Well-known boutique with a strong litigation and arbitration practice in both commercial and criminal courts. Clientele comprises financial entities and telecoms companies. Recent activity has centred on litigation and insolvency proceedings.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"This office has a lot of experience in both arbitration and litigation."

Notable practitioners  

Rodrigo Zamora Etcharren is a widely respected figure in the Mexican dispute resolution market. Peers praise him as being "extraordinary for arbitration" and describe him as "a well-trained and bright lawyer."

Basic facts about the department
- 4 partners
- 7 other qualified lawyers 

What the team is known for Global law firm with significant involvement in international arbitration in the areas of investment and commercial arbitration. Offers expertise in oil and gas. 

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"The team has relentless attention to detail and great industry-specific knowledge. The team is worldly, experienced and patient. Something that really helps is that interactions with the client are usually conducted in your native language."

Work highlights Represented the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in arbitration relating to three petroleum exploration and development projects, with damages of more than USD31 billion.

Notable practitioners  

Gabriela Alvarez-Avila receives praise from clients, who say: "She is outstanding in international matters and has developed a deep understanding of the Latin American legal system."

Significant clients Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Petróleos de Venezuela, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan.

Basic facts about the department
- 3 partners
- 3 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Dispute resolution firm with a particularly strong reputation in the market for its renowned arbitration practice. Handles civil and commercial litigation as well as commercial arbitration on both a national and international level.

Notable practitioners  

Emilio González de Castilla Jr is one of the most prominent figures in Mexico, with involvement in many high-profile arbitrations. He is also widely respected for litigation. Clients see him as an expert on Mexican law: "He is very impressive in this respect."

Significant clients ING, Clarion Partners, Grupo MABESA, Banamex, Andamios Atlas.

Basic facts about the department
- 19 partners
- 20 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Dispute resolution boutique with a strong track record in litigation relating to insolvency and restructuring proceedings. The team is well versed in administrative and contentious proceedings covering many industries, including energy, natural resources, agriculture, communication and transport. 

Notable practitioners  

Founding partner Jaime Guerra González is recognised as an important figure for litigation especially with regards to bankruptcy and restructuring proceedings. He has many years of experience in advising companies in negotiations with creditors.

Basic facts about the department
- 2 partners
- 4 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Litigation-focused firm with over 50 years of experience in the market. Specialises in civil law, mercantile law and amparo proceedings, as well as contentious matters relating to corporate, banking and securities market law. Highlighted for its handling of tax litigation matters.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"This is a respected team for its involvement in important commercial and tax litigation matters."  

Notable practitioners  

Fernando Hegewisch Diaz Infante is an experienced litigator who specialises in civil, commercial and financial litigation. His practice also extends to arbitration and bankruptcy proceedings. 

Basic facts about the department
 - 3 partners
 - 10 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Market leader for domestic and international arbitration proceedings, representing Mexican and foreign parties. Well versed in complex civil and commercial litigation proceedings before local and federal courts, representing pharmaceutical companies, publishing and recording houses, insurance companies and oil companies.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"The team has very good response times and is always available. The lawyers have good knowledge of the field and an excellent reputation - you can tell that they know the field well."

What's new? Barrera Siqueiros y Torres Landa merged with Hogan Lovells in August 2014. Omar Cuellar Gamboa was promoted to partner.

Work highlights Represented Miss Universe in a motion filed for the recognition and enforcement of an arbitral award following arbitration procedures.

Notable practitioners

Peers regard Eduardo Siqueiros as one of the most well-known and respected arbitrators in Mexico; he is also recognised internationally. Sources praise his knowledge of the field and peers describe him as "an absolutely brilliant arbitrator." He has served as arbitrator on various high-profile cases before the International Court of Arbitration of the ICC and the International Centre for Dispute Resolution.

Luis Omar Guerrero Rodríguez specialises in the area of litigation, particularly with regards to commercial, restructuring, bankruptcy and administrative matters. He has represented many companies in contentious matters before the Federal Competition Commission and their subsequent litigation in the Supreme Court.

According to sources, Luis Enrique Graham is one of the most recognised and respected arbitrators in the Mexican market. He is also a significant figure in civil and commercial litigation. He has engaged in domestic and international arbitration before the ICC, NAFTA and various other tribunals. He also has expertise in anti-corruption regulation.

Significant clients GE Capital, Bacardi, Hoffmann-La Roche, Hertz, Banco Votorantim.   

Basic facts about the department
- approximately 3 partners

What the team is known for Compact dispute resolution firm with a prestigious and well-established reputation in the market. Recognised for its solid track record and experience in both complex arbitration and litigation.

Notable practitioners  

Carlos Loperena Ruiz stands out as a leading individual with vast experience in both arbitration and commercial litigation. Peers highlight him as a reputable litigator and one of the top lawyers in Mexico. He is also well versed in bankruptcy litigation and served as president of the Mexican Bar Association.

Basic facts about the department
- 4 partners
- 5 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Dispute resolution boutique focused on litigation with a growing presence in the market. Experienced in constitutional and administrative litigation, and in contentious matters relating to bankruptcy proceedings.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"The team has a global approach. These lawyers are extraordinary and creative litigators who are committed to objectives of the client. They are always available and put the interests of the client first."

"The lawyers have an international background and a great understanding of foreign regulations." 

Work highlights Represented Televisa in litigation against the Federal Antitrust Commission, challenging the denial of the merger of Televisa and one of its subsidiaries with Iusacell.

Notable practitioners  

Carlos Malpica receives widespread praise from peers and clients for his skills in contentious proceedings. They describe him as "a very skilled and creative litigator who is technically very sharp." They also appreciate his commitment and personal follow-up on issues.

Significant clients Grupo Televisa, Macquarie Group, The Carlyle Group, Clear Channel, GDF SUEZ. 

Basic facts about the department
- 11 partners
- 18 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Revered market player in the litigation ambit, with offices in Mexico City, Monterrey and Nuevo León. Litigation services cover commercial, civil and administrative matters, as well as domestic and international arbitration. Experienced across a wide range of matters, such as corporate, financial, regulatory, real estate, energy and communications.  

Notable practitioners  

Senior partner Roberto Martínez Guerrero is experienced in civil and commercial litigation and is widely recognised as an important figure in the dispute resolution market. "I have a particularly good impression of Roberto - he is a key individual here," said one interviewee. 

Ernesto Algaba Berlanga has valuable experience in litigation relating to insolvency. His practice also covers administrative law, constitutional law and amparo proceedings.

Jorge De Haro González is described by sources as "an extraordinary litigator." He is strong in financial workout negotiations and is noted for his activity in bankruptcy and restructuring matters.

Basic facts about the department
- 2 partners

What the team is known for Boutique specialising in arbitration, mediation, corporate and transactional matters. Advises both domestic and international clients on anti-corruption and anti-money laundering, privacy and data protection.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"This is an enthusiastic team - one to watch out for in the future." 

Notable practitioners  

Elsa Ortega is recognised by sources for her practice in international commercial arbitration, as well as corporate and transactional law. She has represented clients from diverse industries in complex arbitration proceedings.

Basic facts about the department
- 5 partners
- 5 other lawyers

What the team is known for Esteemed boutique firm representing high-profile domestic and international clients. Handles complex civil and commercial litigation, as well as the prevention of litigation. Considered a leading firm for insolvency matters and shareholder disputes. Practice focus includes mediation and international arbitration in commercial law matters. Offers particular expertise in the areas of healthcare and telecommunications.  

Work highlights Represented Yahoo! in a claim filed against the company worth USD2.7 million.

Notable practitioners  

Xavier Cortina is highlighted by peers for his noteworthy market participation. He is a leading litigator, particularly in restructuring and insolvency proceedings. He is a former board member of the American Bar Association and has experience in working with many high-profile clients in this space.

Sources describe Javier Quijano Baz as "an experienced litigation player." He is widely recognised as one of the top lawyers in Mexico, advising a notable client roster in high-profile cases. He was involved in the aforementioned case with Yahoo!.

Significant clients Citibank, Banamex, Bank of America, Yahoo!, Canal 40.

Basic facts about the department
- 3 partners
- 13 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Monterrey-based firm dedicated to litigation and corporate law covering civil, commercial, criminal and family law matters. Long-standing practice with 65 years of market involvement. Represents clients before both judicial courts and administrative authorities. 

Notable practitioners 

Arturo Mario Quintero Troncoso is the key client contact.

Basic facts about the department
- 4 partners
- 2 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Strong team in commercial and investment arbitration. Offers consultancy services across both legal and economic disciplines. Areas of focus include investment banking, competition law and international commercial disputes. 

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"Clients appreciate a team that understands their business objectives and this one is stellar in that regard. The lawyers are efficient, with excellent response times and a sophisticated knowledge of international investment law."

"The firm's economists are able to help clients understand the value of their business negotiations."  

What's new? Beatriz Leycegui was promoted to partner, having rejoined the firm after working for the Secretary of Economy.

Notable practitioners  

Lucía Ojeda has advised and represented clients under the rules of ICSID. She is also recognised for her knowledge of competition issues.

Since publication, Luis Alberto Aziz Checa has left the firm.

Significant clients Bardahl, Sempra Energy.

Basic facts about the department
- 1 partner
- 5 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Widely respected arbitration player with a strong practice in civil or commercial litigation. Experienced in working with both Mexican and international clients on large-scale arbitrations. Acts both as representative and as arbitrator in ad hoc and administered proceedings. Well versed in cross-border disputes and representation before state and federal courts. 

Work highlights Represented Conproca, a consortium founded by Korean SK Engineering and Siemens, in an arbitral award nullity proceeding filed by Petróleos Mexicanos.

Notable practitioners  

Fernando del Castillo heads the department and is complimented by peers for his performance in recent arbitration cases. Sources say: "He is a fine lawyer and he handles cases in a commendable manner." He was named sole arbitrator in a procedure at Mexico's ICC regarding software non-performance and quality issues

Significant clients Banorte, Siemens, Corporación GEO, Grupo Peñafiel, Grupo KUO. 

Basic facts about the department
- 2 partners
- 3 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Dispute resolution department with wide experience in both domestic and international commercial arbitrations. Represents clients in judicial procedures regarding the enforcement and annulment of arbitration awards. Solid knowledge of foreign investment arbitration. 

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients) 

"This is a proactive and efficient team that responds in a timely manner. The lawyers have an excellent command of the area and take care of business in a diligent manner." 

Work highlights Acts as counsel to KCA International Construction Management & Consulting in a multimillion-dollar dispute against a subcontractor relating to the construction of Baker Hughes' offices in Veracruz.

Notable practitioners  

Fernando Pérez-Correa Camarena is an experienced litigator who is qualified to practise in both Mexico and the USA. Sources regard him as a "diligent and astute lawyer." 

Significant clients Abengoa, Comisión Federal de Electricidad, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Fideicomisos Instituidos en Relación con la Agricultura, Laboratorios Tornel. 

Basic facts about the department
- 5 partners
- 12 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Leading market player in arbitration, with a solid civil and commercial litigation practice and recognised for its involvement in many high-profile arbitrations. Extensive experience in representing domestic and international clients in investment arbitration, construction disputes and commercial disputes. Well versed in court trials and administrative proceedings before local and federal courts.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"This firm is extremely good at negotiating and working in an efficient manner. All the members of the team are complete lawyers. This is an outstanding department for arbitration."

What's new? Diego Sierra was made partner.

Notable practitioners  

Claus von Wobeser is a renowned arbitrator and litigator, both locally and internationally. He has experience in advising multinational companies and governments involved in investor-state or commercial disputes. Clients say: "He is an extremely complete and comprehensive lawyer who doesn't forget the civil law basics." Regarding his recent sector involvement, sources add: "He's on fire."

Sources describe litigation department head Marco Tulio Venegas as "an excellent partner who is very qualified, with strong expertise." He has experience of litigating in several fields of law before Mexican courts and arbitral tribunals.

Significant clients Navistar Mexico, Fresenius Medical Care, Motorola, Grupo Tradec, EMC Computer Systems. 

Basic facts about the department
- 4 partners
- 7 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Growing litigation department complemented by a strong corporate team. Specialises in complex, high-profile administrative and commercial litigation for large international clients. Solid experience in contentious bankruptcy matters. Also handles international arbitration matters.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"They have been extraordinary. The lawyers have vast technical knowledge and provide us with highly efficient, timely attention. Their strengths are the diversity of the matters they handle and their analysis."

Work highlights Advising Televisa and Telefónica in contentious proceedings regarding TMT issues.

Notable practitioners

Enrique Espejel is the key client contact.

Significant clients Kansas City de México, Televisa, Casio, Banamex, Spectrum Industries.

Other Ranked Lawyers 其他上榜律师

José María Abascal of Abascal, Segovia & Asociados, S.C. has over 40 years of experience in domestic and international litigation and arbitration. Peers recognise him as a star practitioner for arbitration in Mexico and he frequently acts as counsel, arbitrator or expert witness. He has specific expertise in construction, energy, franchising and joint ventures. 

Cecilia Azar Manzur of Azar Abogados is respected by peers as a "solid arbitrator." Further areas of expertise include mediation, corporate advice and negotiation and drafting of contracts. She has experience in arbitrating in the CAM and the ICC.

Luis Alberto Aziz Checa left SAI Law to set up Aziz & Kaye Abogados, S.C. in September of 2014. He is involved in many local and international arbitrations and clients hold him in high esteem, with one saying: "He's sincere, clear of mind and good at providing clients with follow-up." Aziz Checa is a founding member of the Mexican Arbitration Centre (CAM).

Luis Cervantes Muñiz of Cervantes Sainz, S.C. is well known for his participation as a litigator in civil and commercial cases. He has vast experience of shareholder conflicts and restructuring, and has represented many large home builders in contentious matters.

Fernando de Salvidea of De Salvidea y González Alcántara receives high praise for his litigation practice, with sources saying: "He is able to draft logical and analytical documents that allow a solid defence in controversial situations." They add: "He is dedicated, gives technical legal advice and designs efficient strategies." 

According to sources, Gerardo Ramírez Ornelas of Ramírez Ornelas Abogados is a well-known and active litigator. Peers highlight his academic contribution to the field. His areas of expertise include civil litigation, commercial law, restructuring, insurance and telecommunications.

Name partner Francisco González de Cossío of González de Cossío Abogados specialises in complex arbitration and has expertise in the energy and construction industries. He also acts as counsel or expert witness. He is the president of the Arbitration Centre for the Construction Industry (CAIC). 

Cecilia Flores Rueda of Haynes and Boone, SC focuses her practice on commercial arbitration and litigation. She represents clients before local and federal courts in both domestic and international arbitrations.

Leonel Pereznieto Castro of Jáuregui y Del Valle, S.C. is a well-recognised arbitration practitioner who specialises in commercial and international arbitration, antitrust and international labour matters. He is a registered arbitrator for the International Arbitration Court of the ICC.

Sources regard Fernando Estavillo of Miranda & Estavillo as "a brilliant arbitrator with a great reputation," also noting his key participation in various local cases. He is a former member of the Mexican ICC and acts as party counsel and arbitrator. 

Alejandro Ogarrio of Ogarrio Daguerre S.C. is consistently recognised by sources as a leading arbitration practitioner. He has acted as arbitrator in arbitrations administered by the ICC and the American Arbitration Association, and under Chapters XIX and XX of the NAFTA agreement.

Managing partner Alonso Rivera Gaxiola of Rivera Gaxiola, Carrasco y Barrera, S.C. is a much-admired lawyer specialising in civil and commercial litigation. He also has experience in bankruptcy matters, including national and international restructuring procedures. 

Alfonso Sepúlveda of Sepúlveda y Díaz Noriega SEPLAW is praised by sources as "a very able and determined litigator." They add: "He is very responsive and his English is perfect." He has expertise in international law, commercial litigation, telecommunications and family law-related disputes.

Foreign Experts

Foreign Experts are individuals with expertise in a different jurisdiction to the one they are based in. These individuals are particularly highly regarded for international and cross-border work. Usually, they will be identified in the jurisdiction in which they are based and in their country of expertise.

Senior Statesman

A 'Senior Statesman' is a lawyer who no longer works hands-on with the same intensity but who, by virtue of close links with major clients, remains pivotal to the firm’s success.

Eminent Practitioners

'Eminent Practitioners' are highly influential lawyers in a particular practice area who, due to managerial or client relationship commitments, are less active in day-to-day work but remain key players in the team.

Other Noted Practitioners

Other Noted Practitioners are individuals who have not yet been ranked but are seen to be active and accomplished in this area of law.

Other Noted Firms

Other Noted Firms are firms that have not yet been ranked but are seen to be active and accomplished in this area of law.