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2020-03-26

Latin Lawyer 250: ranking 2020

We are pleased to share that BMAJ has been recognized for the 9th consecutive year as a leading Latin American law firm in the latest Latin Lawyer 250 ranking.

Please find below Latin Lawyer 250’s full write up for BMAJ this year:


“Mining tradition with disputes prestige”

Bofill Mir & Alvarez Jana Abogados is firmly at the top end of Chile’s legal market. Its disputes prestige and mining expertise are equally matched by its M&A and project finance and infrastructure areas. Young in age, it is also young in its partnership, which helps its stay forward-thinking.

BMAJ’s clear strengths are in litigation, arbitration, natural resources and corporate and M&A. The firm favours complex transactional work, and its blend of disputes and natural resources capabilities makes it very well positioned to help mining and energy clients handle increased scrutiny by regulators.

It boosted its already-strong civil and commercial litigation practice in 2019 by hiring a lawyer as partner from a rival Chilean firm. This was after former litigation co-head Rodrigo Quintana left in the same year. Despite the departure, the firm notes it has been busy with commercial litigation, especially within the mining industry, in the past 12 months. Meanwhile, the firm reported a great 2019 working on cross-border and local M&A, better than the previous year. Its capital markets and banking and finance departments also reported an increase in work from the year before.

Considering anticipated legislative and constitutional changes likely to take effect in Chile this year, BMAJ is reinforcing its tax, regulatory, labour and antitrust areas. Uncertain times usually lead to increased dispute resolution demand from clients, and the firm’s standout litigation and arbitration practice areas put them in an excellent position to handle this.

BMAJ prides itself on having a relatively young partnership and sees itself as a disruptive force in Chile’s traditionally conservative legal market.

Partners typically range in age from early thirties to early fifties, and the traditional family-led business structure of many firms in the region simply is not the case at BMAJ. The firm deserves praise for its fresh outlook, which has led to a diverse workforce and a staunch commitment to pro bono work. Ana María Yuri, a talented transactional lawyer, is one of very few female managing partners in Chilean firms.

BMAJ shares its office with technology company Entel, which it works closely with. Having technological support close at hand has proved useful. It has invested time and money into data protection software and other technology programmes that have given lawyers the resources necessary to work from home.

BMAJ has an international outlook. It has an exchange programme with law firms in Australia and Canada, and with a German law school. In 2019, BMAJ was present at two international job fairs in New York and across various US universities for the first time, which few Chilean firms are.

Client praise for BMAJ is consistently excellent. One client applauds the firm’s ‘total commitment to their clients’ and lawyers’ ‘detailed knowledge of the practice side of transactions’. Another client says ‘They are fully available and excellent professionals’.

Clients

Panama Canal authorities remain an important client of the firm, as is Japanese trading company Mitsui, German pharmaceuticals company Bayer and Canadian mining group Lundin. Local mining group Codelco is a longstanding client


Arbitration

Key partnersAndrés Jana is a standout, internationally respected arbitration lawyer who has represented the Chilean government in maritime disputes with Bolivia and Peru. Rodrigo Gil is also co-head of this team, and is highly regarded for his arbitration work before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.

Analysis: BMAJ’s arbitration department is one of the best in Chile. It is the only one that has been involved in all of the Republic of Chile’s International Court of Justice cases. Its lawyers have a wealth of experience in local and international arbitral proceedings, including investment treaty disputes. From the execution of guarantees to the breach of contracts and put options to expropriation cases, the team has experience on a wide range of complex matters. Companies have trusted the team in investor–state arbitrations heard before the ICSID. Clients are both public and private entities and come from a range of industries, including construction, maritime and mining.

Work highlights: The team advised industrial installation group EIMISA on a claim before the Santiago Arbitration Centre against Mitsubishi Chile for contract breach concerning its work on the Guacolda electric power plant. Another client instructed BMAJ on a high-stake dispute over the design and construction of an energy plant.

Litigation

Key partnersAndrés Jana – who is particularly known for his environmental litigation experience – has experience as counsel, arbitrator and expert witness in international disputes before the ICJ, ICSID and the ICC. Karen Werner co-heads the civil litigation team with Jana and also has ample experience of commercial arbitrations. Litigator Rodrigo Quintana left the firm in early 2019.

Analysis: This practice group is not afraid to take on tough cases. As befits a great litigation group, lawyers here have superior knowledge of civil and regulatory law, and have handled high-profile public-interest litigation. The team has built a name advising clients on several cases related to one of Chile’s biggest financial scandals. It has also represented Chile before the International Court of Justice in The Hague on its centuries-old border dispute with Bolivia.

Work highlights: Mining company Candelaria relied on the firm in four claims filed by local fishermen seeking US$41 million compensation in a dispute related to a mining port. The team is representing the Los Pelambres mine owner, Chilean conglomerate Antofagasta, in a civil liability case brought by 55 people from the Coquimbo region claiming the company is illegally using water from a public river. Chile’s development agency CORFO is a regular client and recently instructed the firm in litigation against international bank BBVA to recover US$40 million embezzled from the Chilean state.

Corporate and M&A

Key partnersAlejandro Álvarez and Octavio Bofill lead the way. The highly acclaimed Ana María Yuri also helps lead the practice. José A Velasco and Rodrigo Saffirio’s financing, M&A and capital markets experience in Chile and the US are valuable additions to the group. 

Analysis: BMAJ’s corporate team often features high on the list of firms doing the most M&A transactions, according to Latin Lawyerresearch. Between January and July 2019, the firm worked on six big-ticket M&A deals according to this research, which reflects the firm’s consistently strong effort in the transactional field. The firm’s extensive list of mining clients is a source of work for this department, but clients also come from the energy, food and beverage and insurance sectors. Private equity clients also turn to the firm for closing sophisticated, multijurisdictional purchases. It handles cross-border mergers, and companies looking to enter the Chilean market feel secure with BMAJ’s guidance. It also helps clients increase their share in some of the biggest companies in Chile. There is a good balance of local and international clients, and customers speak highly of lawyers’ efficiency and professionalism.

Mining & metals

Key partnersPablo Mir leads the team and is regarded as one of Chile’s best mining specialists; he led the team that obtained approval for the first exploration project under the Chile-Argentina Mining Treaty. Rony Zimerman is licensed to practise in Canada, and his practice combines natural resources and real estate work.

Analysis: BMAJ’s mining group is one of the country’s best. It counts big names as clients, including Lundin, which it helped to develop the Fruta del Norte mine in Ecuador, a US$1 billion project in one of the world’s largest deposits of gold. Other high-profile clients are Vale, Sumitomo, Codelco and Mitsui. As well as advising on the sale and acquisition of mining assets, the practice helps companies in the sector sign joint venture agreements to exploit mining interests and is experienced in negotiating royalties and offtake agreements. Permits, water rights and easement contracts are also covered. It covers all judicial matters related to mining and metals deals too, including labour, administrative, civil procedures and arbitrations. Government entities have sought advice from the team in relation to public bids, legislative bills and international treaties concerning natural resources.

Work highlights: BMAJ helped Codelco construct and develop a molybdenum recovery plant for US$400 million. Canadian mining group Coro Mining hired the firm to structure and execute its comprehensive financing plan and for the restructuring of its spin-off.

Banking & finance

Key partnersOctavio Bofill complements his practice with capital markets and competition knowledge. Ana María Yuri brings M&A and capital markets experience. José A Velasco contributes with his cross-border approach and experience. Alejandro Alvarez’s capital markets and real estate practice combines with his banking and finance offering, while he’s also an arbitrator of the Arbitration and Mediation Center of the Santiago Chamber of Commerce.

Analysis: The team covers a wide range of financial matters. The firm has valuable experience devising financing structures in the renewables sector. Borrowers looking to extend existing loans also come here. Lenders and borrowers seek out the team for its counsel in both local and international loan deals. Acquisition and project financing are other strengths in this group. Customers praise the team’s availability and willingness to adapt to other country’s working hours, including Australia and China.

Capital markets

Key partnersOctavio Bofill and Ana María Yuri head the group, while Alejandro Alvarez brings additional strength in banking and finance to this team.

Analysis: BMAJ’s capital markets practice benefits from the team’s strong banking and finance group. The team works with parties on both sides of the table, with issuers and purchasers seeking out the firm for bond and notes offerings. Clients span a range of sectors including education, aviation and renewables.

Energy

Key partnersPablo Mir and Rony Zimerman co-head the practice, and both also work on natural resources deals. Alejandro Álvarez is another prominent figure in the team, bringing wide experience in project finance and M&A.

Analysis: BMAJ’s energy know-how lies with renewables projects and transmission line developments. The firm advises on the refinancing of renewable energy assets and handles energy-related disputes for both Chilean and international companies. There is solid experience in the non-conventional energy space and knowledge of offtake agreements. BMAJ has extensive knowledge advising energy companies in public bidding processes, with advice covering a range of matters including liabilities and warranties. BMAJ has also advised clients in hydroelectric and geothermal projects.

Work highlights: BMAJ helped Brazilian power company Alupur launch its tender offer for the construction of a US$250 million electricity transmission. One international client is relying on BMAJ to finalise its successful offer to expand numerous energy plants in Chile. The joint venture between Energía Latina and Empresas Gasco relied on BMAJ for the development of its 43-megawatt electricity generation plant in the Maule region of Chile.

Environment

Key partnersGuillermo de la Jara, who was the legal adviser of the Undersecretary of Telecommunications, and also co-heads the TMT and public law areas.

Analysis: BMAJ successfully leverages its strength in disputes and public law to counsel its clients on judicial and administrative environmental procedures concerning the breach of environmental permits or pollution. Alongside its work on environmental disputes, it also advises international clients on environmental issues affecting their projects and activities in a variety of industries in Chile, including environmental compliance.

Work highlights: BMAJ advised power generation company Inersa in a complaint before the Environmental Assessment Service that reversed a prior rejection from the Environmental Assessment Commission for the Central Trapén project. BMAJ developed a compliance programme for real estate group Pacal following the breach of environmental regulations concerning noise pollution. Lundin’s Candelaria mine is BMAJ’s star client. It recently called upon the firm in a dispute with the environmental superintendency.

Administrative law

Key partnersGuillermo de la Jara balances his public law practice with a busy workload in the telecoms and media space.

Analysis: This public law practice group combines administrative and environmental mandates, as well as assistance in regulated markets and antitrust matters. The team has worked with companies navigating complex administrative proceedings, arbitration procedures as well as administrative and civil disputes. Annulment actions are also well covered by the team. It has significant experience advising clients during constitutional actions before the Santiago Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. The department has good expertise of Chile’s electricity, water, urban development and health sectors. Private, public and state-owned companies all trust the firm with administrative matters.

Work highlights: The team acted for Brazilian transport group Socicam and its Chilean subsidiary IPSA on a judicial filing after local authorities announced the termination of the Puerto Montt bus terminal concession these clients were working on. The firm advised private health clinic operator Anadi on a public bidding process dispute before the Chilean Public Procurement Tribunal against the National Health Fund and the Public Hires Office. State entity CORFO relied on the firm to win damages and restitutions claims against 26 companies before civil courts, recovering US$150 million embezzled from the Chilean state.

Telecoms & media

Key partnersGuillermo de la Jara heads the team, and used to be chief counsel to the Undersecretary of Telecoms. Octavio Bofill brings his corporate and banking and finance prowess to the team.

Analysis: This practice group offers sophisticated counsel within the TMT industry and beyond. The team has ample experience representing clients in major telecoms disputes surrounding public bids and broadcasting matters. Clients also rely on the firm to obtain permits for the design and operation of satellite transmission data services. It handles negotiations with regulators to get necessary approvals for infrastructure installations and it has done extensive work on TMT projects with public authorities. Even the Chilean government has hired the firm for legal counsel on important matters, including the regulation of the telephone industry. It also advises on public procurement and government licensing. Major international clients include AT&T and Fox.

Work highlights: The firm helped Chilean media agency Copesa obtain approval from the National Antitrust Prosecutor for its restructuring of broadcasting assets. Another client hired BMAJ to handle its digitalisation obligations as a television network when Chilean TV switched from analogue to digital.

Anti-corruption investigations and compliance

Key partnersAndrés Jana heads the criminal defence team, litigating across administrative, regulatory, constitutional and commercial matters.

Analysis: BMAJ has one of Chile’s premier white-collar crime and compliance practices. It has experience handling criminal investigations into state companies, as well as advising individuals caught up in major corruption cases. Criminal investigations concerning bribery, misappropriation and fraud are covered by the firm. It attracts clients from various sectors including public health, entertainment and real estate. Defending individual clients accused of misappropriating funds continues to be a common source of work.

Labour

Key partners: Department head Pablo Gutiérrez is the contact here. He previously worked in the legal department of the Chilean Chamber of Construction.

Analysis: This group’s focus is largely on labour litigation and other methods of dispute resolution. Companies facing unfair dismissal claims and demands for hefty severance payments are important sources of work. A key strength of the team is its collective bargaining experience, helping clients sign agreements on good terms and avoiding costly strike action. The team also advises legislative and executive branch authorities on changes to the country’s labour code. Administrative labour matters – like immigration procedures – are covered by the team too. Clients come from different sectors, including banking and finance, retail and mining.

Work highlights: BMAJ helped a large retailer win when a former employee brought a case for alleged unfair dismissal. Mining company LMC Services hired BMAJ to defend it when a former employee claimed, unsuccessfully, that the company owed her unpaid redundancy remuneration. The team defended Codelco contractor Molyb when a former employee – who was dismissed for not complying with safety regulations – filed an action; the court decided in favour of BMAJ’s client.

Corporate governance

Key partnersOctavio Bofill focuses on corporate and commercial law and has been a member of the panel of arbitration of concessions agreements at the Ministry of Public Works since 2010. Ana María Yuri previously advised the constitution, legislation and justice committee of the Chilean senate. Alejandro Álvarez has served as president of the Chilean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

Analysis: BMAJ works with several public companies on internal corporate governance issues. From establishing controller positions and structuring policies to dealing with shareholders’ agreements and remuneration structures, companies rely on the team for a number of matters. It also advises on fair practices and ethical codes and instructs boards of directors on compliance with Chilean regulations. Local and international NGOs, as well as companies from the real estate and construction sectors in particular, regularly instruct the team on corporate governance matters.

Work highlights: Electric utility company Enlasa, mortgage creditor Hipotecaria La Construccion and construction group PACAL are long-standing clients for their day-to-day corporate governance issues.

Antitrust & competition

Key partnersGuillermo de la Jara is the main name. He also advises on telecoms, litigation and IP matters.

Analysis: The team has plenty of experience helping both national and international companies obtain merger approval from Chile’s competition authorities, and also keeps busy defending companies facing probes from Chile’s economic prosecutor. International companies looking to avoid anticompetitive behaviour depend on the team to guide them appropriately on how they can expand their various projects and businesses in Chile. Competition matters concerning shareholders’ agreements and offtake agreements are covered by the practice, too. Clients come from the mining, banking and entertainment sectors, among others.

Work highlights: BMAJ is helping one engineering client with the antitrust matters related to an acquisition. The team represented a food company before the antitrust courts when it successfully appealed an earlier court decision to reject its acquisition of a competitor.

Tax

Key partners: Guillermo Fonseca leads the group, having previously spent over a decade at Deloitte. His experience covers tax planning, structuring and cross-border investments.

Analysis: The team advises clients on tax-related issues within M&A deals, as well as on tax planning structures, especially within the mining and banking industries. Both national and global companies turn to BMAJ for tax counsel, and the team has experience defending international clients before Chilean tax courts when the Chilean Internal Revenue Service has raised concerns over their tax payments. International clients also appreciate how the team advises them on tax implications in both Chile and abroad.

Work highlights: The team is defending one client against the Chilean Internal Revenue Service, which has raised concerns over the taxable deductions of certain interest payments this client made during an acquisition.

Real estate & tourism

Key partnersAlejandro Álvarez, who is also a board member of construction company Grupo Inmobiliario PACAL, heads the practice. Ana María Yuri brings banking and financing expertise to the team.

Analysis: BMAJ advises real estate developers on a range of matters from the preliminary stages of development and financing through to permits and litigation. Its M&A team has also advised real estate clients on transactional work in the sector. The team helps companies sell real estate assets through divestitures and through tender offers. International funds depend on the team for the management of their real estate investments in Chile.

Work highlights: BMAJ advised life insurance company Bice Vida on the development of the residential construction project it was carrying out through its joint venture with construction company Mena & Ovalle. One client relied on BMAJ to sell three shopping malls, while a private equity firm relied on the firm for the sale and leaseback of property assets.

Pro bono

Key partners: The firm has earned commendations from Fundación Pro Bono Chile, the country’s clearing house. Alejandro Álvarez and Pablo Mir are members of the clearing house’s board, and senior associate Joaquín Perez is coordinator of the firm’s pro bono committee.

Analysis: BMAJ is known for its commitment to pro bono work and for this reason is recognised as a Leading Light by Latin Lawyer. From the international Scouts and Guiding Association to charities providing shelters for vulnerable women, the firm supports a wide range of causes in the community. The firm is sponsoring the Desafío Pro Bono project, an annual contest organised by Chile’s Pro Bono Foundation, which is helping university students to develop long-term solutions to problems that they have highlighted in their community. The winning project aims to improve the protocol concerning elderly patients leaving hospital but who have no home or family to return to. BMAJ is providing all legal support for this initiative. The firm is also helping a client, wrongly accused of rape and imprisoned, who has recently been proven innocent, in his litigation case for compensation over the damage caused by this wrongful imprisonment. It helps the Mujer Levantate charity in all legal matters in its efforts to rehabilitate women who have served time in prison, with the aim of stopping these women from reoffending.