Insurance: Latin America-wide
Many Latin American countries are currently experiencing the benefits of an abundance of natural resources, combined with an impressive volume of ongoing infrastructure projects. Given its positive economic outlook, it is little wonder Latin America is firmly establishing itself as an attractive market for international insurers and reinsurers.
International firms dominate the region’s legal scene, and London remains, by and large, the centre of most insurance practices. However, local know-how, understanding of business culture and language skills are regarded by both clients and local lawyers as increasingly valuable assets. With this in mind, several international firms count on Portuguese and Spanish-speaking lawyers and have a strong presence in the region, with offices in Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and Miami.
Regulations differ significantly from country to country and some are less flexible than others when it comes to governing laws and applicable jurisdiction to contracts and dispute resolution. As a result, local firms are becoming increasingly relevant players in certain markets and may prove stiff competition for the international giants.
THE FIRM This insurance giant is no stranger to the Latin American scene given its 20 years in the region. The group has offices in Caracas and Rio de Janeiro and representative offices in São Paulo and Bogotá, though the practice is led by the London branch. Services offered span the full range of contentious and non-contentious insurance and reinsurance matters, covering construction, engineering, aviation, operational risk and offshore energy.
Sources say: “The lawyers at this firm are extremely responsive and knowledgeable. This is complemented by an excellent international network.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Dispute resolution partner Peter Hirst is very active in the region and has a growing profile in the market.
Head of the Latin America department Stirling Leech has been a reference point in the market for over 20 years. He splits his time between the Rio de Janeiro and Caracas offices and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.
THE FIRM This international firm enjoys a strong and long-standing reputation for its insurance work in the region. The group is based in London and benefits from the firm's international network, particularly its offices in Mexico and Brazil. The team has extensive experience working in South America and frequently assists clients with complex high-end disputes, as well as non-contentious matters.
Sources say: “The service on offer here is of the highest quality: the team understands the Latin American culture to perfection, the analysis is impeccable and the technical skills are second to none.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS London-based Christopher Cardona is a leading name in the region. He wins effusive praise from sources for his expertise on reinsurance matters and his native command of Spanish.
THE FIRM This recently formed group is fast becoming one of the leading names in the Latin American insurance sphere. The firm co-ordinates work from its Madrid, London and Mexico offices, and has developed close working relationships with firms in Canada, Brazil and Chile. The practice group has a strong client portfolio, including insurance brokers, agents, insurers and reinsurers, and provides assistance in a range of consulting and contentious matters.
Sources say: “Cultural understanding and local knowledge are the team's strongest assets.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Matthew Wescott is an experienced litigator with a focus on financial markets. He is “excellent and a pleasure to work with,” according to market commentators.
Hermes Marangos leads the Latin America practice and has vast experience in commercial litigation.
THE FIRM This highly respected firm opened a Brazilian office in late 2011 with the incorporation of Jeremy Shebson and his team from a rival firm. The practice group acts for clients on the full range of insurance and reinsurance matters, and is well versed in aviation and shipping issues. The team is particularly active in South America and is currently involved in several matters across oil and gas, offshore, mining, commodities and shipping.
KEY INDIVIDUALS According to sources, London-based Jonathan Bruce “is business-minded, sees the big picture and has excellent working connections in the region.” He concentrates on maritime, shipping and energy matters.
THE FIRM This leading insurance firm has cultivated a noteworthy Latin American insurance practice. The team is based in London and has extensive experience in acting for clients in the aviation, energy and offshore, international trade and shipping industries. The practice group assists clients with both contentious and non-contentious matters and is particularly active in political risk claims. In a key mandate of late, the team represented CPT Empresas Maritimas in a USD40 million negligence claim brought against it in Chile.
Sources say: “The lawyers are knowledgeable, responsive and commercially aware, and have excellent client service skills. They are a pleasure to work with.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Seasoned practitioner Peter Rogan enjoys an enviable reputation across the region. He is praised for his all-round knowledge and is particularly noted by sources for his political risk and reinsurance experience.
Ian Chetwood focuses on shipping law and regularly acts for shipowners, P&I clubs and other insurers. He wins praise from clients for his “global vision and ability to perfectly navigate between the common law and civil law systems.”
THE FIRM This international full-service firm has established a strong presence in the Latin American insurance scene. The London-based team acts for clients on the full range of insurance matters, with political risk and contentious work being two areas of particular activity. The practice group has had a busy year assisting clients in Panama, Peru, Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela with insurance-related matters.
Sources say: “This firm provides an excellent service. The lawyers are very proactive, clear in their advice and always available.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Senior associate Carlos Fane is singled out by clients and local lawyers as the 'go-to guy' for Latin America insurance work at the firm. He regularly advises clients on public liability and political risk, as well as financial institutions claims. He wins praise from clients for his “clear, pragmatic advice, experience in the market and 100% dedication to every task.” Market sources also highlight his native command of Spanish.
David Chadwick heads the firm's insurance and reinsurance group in London. He specialises in both political risk and financial institutions insurance, and frequently acts for clients with Latin American interests.
THE FIRM This compact firm provides insurers and reinsurers with coverage advice and liability defence in high-value claims. The group primarily focuses on Brazil and has actively been working with the London market reinsurers and the Brazilian regulatory authorities in relation to the opening of the Brazilian reinsurance industry to international reinsurers.
Sources say: “The team is commercially savvy and provides concise, accurate and sound legal advice.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Partners Jonathan Hall and John Startin are highlighted by clients as “detail-oriented, thorough lawyers, able to see the big picture.” The team is further boosted by Portuguese native speaker Tatiana Markovitch, who brings her language skills and civil-law background to the table.
THE FIRM This international powerhouse co-ordinates work from the London, Madrid and Miami offices, and has successfully built a strong presence in the Latin American region. Key mandates of late include assisting the National Insurance Institute of Costa Rica in a dispute against its Miami and London reinsurance brokers.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Senior associate Natasha Gunney is highlighted by sources for her dedication to the region and first-rate advice.
THE FIRM The Latin America hub of this international heavyweight opened its doors in late 2010, operating out of Miami. The practice group assists clients in the full range of insurance matters and is active throughout the region, advising on contentious and non-contentious matters. Sources praise the firm for its expertise in property claims.
Sources say: "The team is excellent. The lawyers are always well informed, responsive and available."
KEY INDIVIDUALS UK and Spanish-qualified Alex Guillamont heads the Miami office and is praised by market commentators for his work developing the firm's Latin America practice. He stands out for his "attentive client service and creative solutions to complex problems," according to clients.
Associate Michael Hennessy is a "rising star," according to market commentators.
THE FIRM This firm advises clients on contentious issues relating to property and casualty losses in the oil and gas, mining and renewables, construction, public utilities and transport sectors. In a key mandate of late, the practice group represented London-based reinsurers in USD250 million claims brought against the insurer of an oil company in relation to a major oil spillage in Colombia.
Sources say: "This firm provides reliable support to our business needs."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Team leader Mark Kendall and property and casualty specialist Duncan Strachan are highlighted by sources for their strong regional knowledge. Clients particularly appreciate "their practical approach and working connections in the region."
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