Leading arbitrators at Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira and Bird & Bird have left their firms to set up their own practices amid concerns about apparent conflicts of interest.
Cuatrecasas´ partner Antonio Hierro and Manuel Conthe, formerly of Bird & Bird, have confirmed they are starting up new practices.
Both said that concerns about issues relating to real, or apparent, conflicts of interest had been a major factor in their decisions.
Hierro said the fact that Cuatrecasas had thousands of clients meant that there was potential for such conflicts and therefore he had to “decline several cases”. He added that it meant he had “no option” but to announce his intention to leave the firm.
Hierro – whose areas of expertise include energy, real estate and construction – will remain at the firm until the end of June this year, with a view to having a new practice fully operational by the beginning of next year.
“Arbitration is becoming more popular and there are an increasing number of cases,” he said. “There are also an increasing amount of international arbitration clauses in contracts and they are already often used in energy, construction and M&A deals.”
Conthe, who joined Bird & Bird in 2009, said he left the firm because of “apparent conflicts of interest”. He added: “I left Bird & Bird on friendly terms, but as the firm is very active in the energy sector and I have been appointed to a few energy cases, it doesn´t make sense to stay with an international law firm.” Conthe also said another reason for his departure was that, if he was appointed to an energy case, it would prevent other lawyers at Bird & Bird from “considering the parties in the case as potential clients”.
Conthe, who is also a trained economist, said he would be focusing on energy, investment and M&A cases – which, he said, have a lot of “economic components”.