Our litigation practice includes all of its forms: in and out of court litigation, and arbitration. Due to the fact that our clientele is involved in almost all sectors of the economy, our work in this area is ample.
We participate in disputes throughout the country, such as:
- Corporate, civil and commercial disputes (contract and tort)
- Banking litigation (collections, with/without guarantees, ordinary and complex litigation)
- Arbitration (acting as arbitrators or as party counselors)
- Administrative litigation
Our regular counseling to financial institutions has provided us with solid experience in banking litigation on matters of letters of credit and documentary collections, bank secrecy, loan collections, refinancing, enforcement of guarantees, and bank contract disputes.
Given our expertise in banking topics, we had the honor of having been selected by the Central Bank of Uruguay to act as consultants for highly sensitive matters relating to the 2002 financial crisis.
In addition, our regular advice to national and multinational companies of different industries puts our department at the head of both day-to-day and also “bet-the-company” litigation.
More recently in time, through senior partner Fernando Jimenez de Arechaga’s, with a well-established reputation as an arbitrator (he is member to the panel of arbitrators of the Uruguayan Chamber of Commerce, and also an ICC arbitrator), our firm saw a surge in its arbitration work. Two other professionals of Jiménez, partner Héctor B. Viana and senior associate Nicolás Brause have been recently included in the panel of arbitrators of the Uruguayan Chamber of Commerce, denoting the significant presence of our firm in arbitration matters in Uruguay.
Our litigation department is currently handling and leading the most noteworthy bankruptcy case in the country against the bankrupt national airline PLUNA, with key successes achieved by our firm during the year 2014.
We also handle regularly litigation matters for McDonald’s, Ericsson and Pepsi.
Nicolas Brause, a senior associate with our firm is a Bankruptcy Law assistant professor who also specializes in Arbitration and Antitrust Law.
Mariela Ruanova, also a senior associate with our firm, heads the team that provides regular legal advice to Banco Santander, the largest private bank in the country.
Worth of mentioning are the following cases, in which we had or currently have active participation:
- We are providing advice to two brokers acting in their capacity as trustees of investments trusts created with the future flows from the Internet ticket sales of the bankrupt national airline PLUNA. Upon the interruption of operations of the company, ensuing bankruptcy, our clients had outstanding credits worth US$ 15 million.
In the current highest profile case in Uruguay, our firm plays a leading role in the Creditors’ Commission and has obtained key successes in the year 2014 including the declaration of culpable insolvency against the debtor, the auction of seven airplanes sold for a total value of US$ 71 million and the declaration of the Uruguayan state as a subordinated creditor, and thus, its exclusion from its right to obtain payment out of the proceeds of the auction of the airplanes.
- In the complaint filed by our client American Express (AMEX) against Bank of America (BofA) on the basis of an assignment by the latter to the former of rights worth approx. US$ 15 million under promissory notes issued under ALADI Convention of Reciprocal Payments and Credits. The promissory notes – purchased by BofA to Banco Atlantis – did not correspond to underlying commercial operations but to a fraud committed by the latter. Thus, AMEX’s cause of action arises from the implied warranty of existence and legitimacy of the assigned rights that legally exists in every assignment of credit rights under Uruguayan law.
- Our firm represents a group of foreign and local investors in their dispute against the state-owned energy company ANCAP, in connection with their structuring of a financial mechanism to enable ANCAP to repay its USD 750 million debt with its Venezuelan counterpart PDVSA. Our client structured a complex financial mechanism to enable such repayment with a single US$ 400 million payment by ANCAP but, was suddenly displaced. Our client’s cause of action is a breach of contract claim on account of structuring fees. After conducting negotiations with ANCAP and the Ministry of Finance, a settlement was reached in December, 2014, where ANCAP will reward our client a new transaction, identical to the one that motivated the complaint, for the same amount and with the same purpose.
- On a typical corporate claim brought by minority shareholders of Mayfer S.A. (trading of agribusiness equipment company) against the company and its directors, alleging that the board of the company purportedly wrongfully (i.e., without shareholders’ approval) resolved a mandatory increase in the capital of the company by capitalizing retained earnings. Our firm successfully represented defendants and obtained a favorable decision, dismissing the complaint.
- Under a leniency program, one company in the tomato industry reported the existence of a cartel in the market. The ensuing investigation by the Uruguayan antitrust authority resulted in a projected fine against our client. Our firm was called upon to respond to the proposed resolution of the antitrust authority. The antitrust authority first, and the Ministry of Finance later, maintained the challenged resolution. The matter is now pending for resolution with the highest administrative court (Administrative Litigation Tribunal).
- In the context of the cartel investigation mentioned above, the antitrust authority decided to open an investigation alleging a bid rigging practice in the tomato industry with respect to tender calls by a centralized purchase agency of the state.
Our firm has been called upon to respond to a proposed resolution by which the antitrust authority would open an investigation in relation to this alleged practice.
- Our client is a real estate developer which retained a Uruguayan construction company for the construction of three home buildings. Our client alleges that there were defects in the construction of the three buildings, and commenced three arbitration cases (one per building). In parallel, the construction company claims full payment of the construction contracts and exercised mechanic liens over the construction sites. We sought, and ultimately obtained, injunctions by the Court ordering the construction company to vacate the site.
- On arbitration we successfully represented SanCor Argentina and SanCor Brazil in the dismissal of a claim for US$ 10 million for wrongful termination of distribution agreement, brought by one of its distributors in Brazil.