Capitalising on local co-Counsel in Latin American arbitrations – Astigarraga Davis

The evolution of Latin American arbitration coupled with the increased volume of regional economic activity is prompting an increased confidence among local law firms

La evolución del arbitraje y el crecimiento de la economía en Latinoamérica generan una mayor confianza para los despachos locales en las disputas internacionales, según José Astigarraga de Astigarraga Davis en Miami.

Latin American law firms are increasingly acting alongside the more established players in international disputes, says José Astigarraga, partner at Miami-based arbitration firm Astigarraga Davis.
“There is significantly greater regional investment, bilateral investor treaties (BITs) have grown in importance, and now a number of Latin American law firms have built up the know-how to take on, and in some cases, lead international arbitrations.”
The most prominent firms are no longer content or comfortable to merely hand over a client’s major arbitration to another law firm, he says. The trend is acute in Brazil, where legal, linguistic and cultural barriers play a more obvious role, and where there remains a strong preference for domestic remedies, but there is evident growing confidence among arbitration practitioners throughout the region.
“We see many more firms now very interested in developing their expertise and ready to act in tandem with international firms. From a clients’ perspective the ability to draw on local know-how and market understanding is something to be embraced – the use of local co-counsel can present a very cost-effective alternative.” Astigarraga Davis regularly acts with both.
Such a development is being encouraged by the region’s Bars and arbitral institutions which are jostling for position to become more prominent as international arbitration centres, says Astigarraga. This trend coupled with an upturn in disputes emanating out of the financial crisis is likewise prompting an increased focus on clients’ use of arbitration clauses.
“The jury is still out as to which, if any, of these will truly develop as a dominant venue and so for the time being centres such as Miami will inevitably remain significant. But we see an expanding tier of capable firms in the arbitration arena, and for certain types of disputes clients are more willing to choose a local alternative to the major international firms.”