Our lawyers specialise in the settlement of trade disputes via international arbitration processes. Our team boasts an in-depth knowledge of the different legal systems involved in this type of dispute, having participated in numerous international and multilingual proceedings, both inside and outside Europe, involving different jurisdictions or seats of arbitration. We have defended our clients at the most important seats of arbitration in the world, including London, Paris, Zurich, Geneva, The Hague, Lisbon and Madrid.
Our services in this field include:
- Arbitration before the arbitration institutions CIADI, CCI, LCIA and AAA, and in ad hoc arbitration proceedings subject to the UNCITRAL arbitration rules, as well as in proceedings not subject to them.
- Advice and preventive action in trade disputes and assistance in negotiation, mediation and expert evidence
- Advice on the most suitable arbitration institutions for the client, drafting arbitration clauses and designing ADR programs.
- Appointment of arbitrators and representation and defence during the arbitration proceedings.
- Recognition, enforcement and annulment of foreign arbitral awards.
Our firm’s lawyers work with the client’s economic interest in mind, and so we employ preventive practices to avoid litigation. We give our clients expert advice so they can sidestep any ‘problems’. When such problems cannot be avoided, we equip the client with the best team of lawyers around to ensure that the client’s interests prevail over those of the other party.
Our lawyers have extensive experience in the field of litigation and they keep up-to-date with the different forms of judicial and extrajudicial dispute resolution that our legal system provides. Because we focus mainly on economic and practical issues, we always seek to avoid proceedings that might cause an unnecessary waste of time and money for our clients.
Given that we specialise in international clients who invest in our country or businesses that trade internationally, we are mainly experts on Civil, Administrative, Tax and Commercial Law. Having said that, our firm also has associates who can give you the best advice possible in other fields like Criminal and Labour Law.
Our team will be with you in your corner fighting for a successful outcome for you or your company, no matter how complex the case, ensuring that your assets or interests are fully safeguarded both here in Spain and in the international sphere.
INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND LOGISTICS
In 2013, the Cádiz province exported goods abroad worth 8,316.4 million euros, representing a growth in exports of 1.7% versus the previous year, consolidating our province as the highest-exporting province in the Andalusian Region and standing for almost one third of the region’s foreign turnover.
The tightening of the domestic market following the financial crisis has given local companies no choice but to internationalise. To do so they need to be led by experts in Foreign Trade issues due to the fact that international markets are full of big business opportunities but also allow absolutely no room for excuses or error.
International trade in goods usually involves trading relations in three intrinsically-linked areas; Logistics and Transport, Commerce and Contracting, Insurance and Payment Systems. Our firm can provide specialist global advice in all these fields so that our clients gain maximum commercial success.
Logistics and Transport:
Whether goods are transported by road, rail, air or sea, there is always a risk of a mishap that could cause losses or damages to the cargo. For instance, frozen or refrigerated goods might go to waste due to container cooling problems or bottled goods might smash if the lorry carrying them suffers an accident.
In the face of such contingencies, our legal team can minimise and control any risks by correctly drafting the clauses of contracts with the logistic services who arrange transport, distribution and storage. If the contingency has already taken place, we can provide our clients with expert advice by interpreting the clauses of the agreements already in place and applicable legislation so that they can recover the goods or receive compensation for losses and damages.
Whatever the means of transport, the type of cargo, the origin and destination or the various legal systems at play, our team of lawyers are fully trained to give you the best advice and defence so that concern over the safety of your transported goods is one more thing you can tick off your list.
Commerce and Contracting:
Trading relations between companies of different nationalities are usually subject to a series of commercial terms that arise out of the different legal systems that apply and the clauses of the contracts that the parties have signed. Those terms and conditions, often containing complex legal terminology, usually include:
- United National Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG)
- INCOTERMS (Terms of Sale and Allocation of Cost & Risks between Buyer & Seller)
- Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)
- Other commercial terms depending on the industry
Our team of lawyers provide top-level advice on the wording of clauses in contracts that govern the trading relations between our clients and the companies they hire. In the event of a dispute over the application of those contracts, we are fully trained to defend our clients in any judicial or arbitration proceedings, whether in Spain or elsewhere.
Insurance and Payment Systems:
One crucial aspect of international trade is ensuring that both the goods and payment therefor arrive at their respective destinations. The complex nature of international trading relations is apparent in these sectors as well, in which the products designed to insure and pay for goods proliferate and are modified continuously, in accordance with regulations and current needs. That is why companies trading on foreign markets need a group of professionals like us, to see to it that the safety of the goods and payment are guaranteed at all times, and if not, that the legal or arbitration authorities reinstate our clients’ rights as quickly and smoothly as possible.
COMPETITION AND EU LAW
Our Firm’s Commercial Law Department offers legal advice on the law of competition, having represented multinational clients before the regulatory bodies in this field, both at a national and an EU level.
Our team has extensive experience in representing clients before various EU administrative and judicial institutions and a solid background in procedures relating to the free movement of goods, services, people and capital and freedom of establishment. We are also experts on the EU Customs Regulation and the diverse legislation governing cross-border commercial transactions.
Our profound knowledge of the ins and outs of EU legal norms means that we can offer highly valuable advice on the structuring of the distribution and marketing channels for our clients to export their goods and services to international markets.
We provide assurance to our clients on the launch of their goods and services on markets governed by foreign laws.
COMMERCIAL AND CORPORATE LAW
Commercial and corporate law is a minefield which requires profound knowledge and a great deal of experience.
Our Commercial Law department represents and advises clients in all aspects, especially in cross-border transactions (M&As, including Due Diligence), international restructuring and reorganisation, private equity, securities market, and setting up branches and subsidiaries in Spain and abroad.
We advise our clients (ranging from public limited companies to small family businesses) on every aspect of Corporate Law (incorporation, liquidation and winding-up, drafting bylaws, operating agreements, preparing Annual Shareholder Meetings, types of Boards of Directors and changes to the members, and so on).
Our firm’s approach to advising clients is strategic and preventive, so that by eradicating the risk they can side step potential problems.
ENERGY, RENEWABLE ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Energy sector regulations are constantly changing and need to be known inside out. The sector is currently a tough, liberalised market which requires specific advice from someone who is up-to-date with the latest legislation in this field.
Our lawyers have a solid background in energy regulations and can offer specialist legal advice on negotiating contracts, adapting to new laws and legal defence in legal and arbitration proceedings.
Of particular importance in our region are wind and solar power plants, which usually involve huge investments. Not a single detail must be overlooked and legal contracts must accurately set out every term and condition. The financial side of matters and project planning and development are also of paramount importance. Our firm’s renowned professionals are trained in all of the above, and can additionally offer global advice in the aspects of administrative and civil law involved in this field, specializing in cross-border projects driven by foreign agents.
FINANCE, BANKING INDUSTRY AND GUARANTEES
Our main goal is to make business and investments easier for our clients. For that reason we have always striven to acquire in-depth knowledge about the banking sector and financial instruments because these activities are what make our economy tick and allow investment and profit.
Due to specializing in transactions with international clients, we have gained extensive knowledge about the financial products and regulations in those markets. During our dealings with foreign clients and banks, we have advised on setting up guarantees for their investments, including chattel or real estate mortgages, pledges, assignment of receivables and bank guarantees or deposits, and we have managed complex financing and re-financing transactions. In this field, we have both set up and enforced guarantees to safeguard our clients’ interests, applying the extensive and ever-changing legislation in the Spanish financial system to ensure the effectiveness of the guarantee.
We take a professional approach to the finances of small investors who come to Spain, making sure that anyone who is here to buy a home or small business is fully aware of the bank’s terms and conditions and do not put their money into financial products ‘with a catch’ that could seriously harm their assets. We also ensure that our clients’ interests are protected during guarantee enforcement and that the bank does not take advantage of its position and infringe upon the client’s legitimate rights.
Given that many of our clients are international, right from the outset we have specialised in tax advice for this type of client, assisting them in their property or other type of investments in Spain. In this field, we focus particularly on tax analysis and planning for foreign individuals and companies who are residents in Spain and for Spanish citizens or companies who are residents abroad, with a view to reducing heavy taxation by using the legal systems available. We also see to it that our clients honour their tax obligations by preparing their tax returns and that double taxation avoidance agreements are applied, even going so far as to request a refund of taxes paid erroneously abroad.
In terms of wealth tax and family-owned businesses, we advise on how to achieve the right legal structuring, and it should be noted that our firm specializes in family office asset management to gain maximum tax efficiency when passing wealth down through the generations.
As well as the above services, we have acquired intensive knowledge on International Taxation applied to International Commerce and the Internationalization of Companies, and the tax laws applicable to export subsidies, customs procedures, dispute resolution and tax litigation.
REAL ESTATE AND PLANNING
Recently, Spain and its real estate sector were hit especially hard by a far-reaching crisis. The average house price has plunged from severely inflated to levels so low that they represent a real investment opportunity for foreigners. Now that doubts as to Spain’s solvency on international markets have been dispelled, interest in the real estate sector has been revived and there has been a gradual increase in individuals and companies who are looking to buy a house or get into property development in our country.
The figures speak for themselves: according to the General Council of Spanish Notaries Public, house sales shot up by 45.5% in the first quarter of 2014, with sales to foreign citizens representing 19.4% of the total. This is 27.2% up on the same period in 2013.
Although investing in this sector is appealing, the risks involved must not be overlooked because the amount of money involved in buying a house usually represents a large part of the client’s wealth.
One of the bigger problems that our region faces is the proliferation of houses built without planning permission, on land that is not suitable for residential use, sometimes even in protected areas that invade the maritime terrestrial public domain or affect drover’s roads. One particularly severe case, although unfortunately not the only one, is Chiclana de la Frontera, where some estimates put the number of ‘illegal’ houses at over 40,000, houses surrounded by thousands of houses in areas that do not seem to be problematic but are actually ‘time bombs’ waiting to go off and could end up being demolished at the orders of the Government or the courts. Dream house turned nightmare.
Right from the start, one of our firm’s main strengths has been, and continues to be, legal advice and support for property purchasing and development, ranging from small apartments to exclusive luxury villas. We make sure that our clients know the costs involved in purchasing or developing their property, we resolve any levies that apply, ensure there are no planning restrictions or proceedings that could potentially jeopardise the property, arrange the necessary permits, draw up the sale or building contracts, and later on register the property in the Land Registry.
Criminal law is considered ‘ultima ratio legis’, or the weapon of last resort in the legal system for the most serious crimes against people and their assets. Our firm is highly specialised in defending individuals and companies whose proprietary rights have been violated. We analyse the problems and threats that our clients face and we come up with the best strategy to prevent such threats from materialising, or, once the crime has been committed, minimise the impact and bring the guilty parties to justice.
Some members of our firm particularly specialise in the criminal proceedings that are usually related to bankruptcy proceedings, having defended both sides, the debtor and the creditors.
With the reform of the Spanish Penal Code and important developments in relation to the criminal liability of companies in Spain, our firm has gone to great lengths to implement compliance policies in relation to our clients’ business activities, to avoid them or their employees committing offences due to their lack of knowledge on this subject.
Typical offences in this field include money laundering, in relation to the Tax Office or the Social Security Office, forgery of documents and intellectual or industrial property violations. In each of these areas, our team of professionals provides our clients with the best defence they can get.
INHERITANCE SUCCESSION AND PRIVATE ASSET MANAGEMENT
Estate planning and inheritance agreements are vital in minimising the harsh taxation that is usually applied to estates of a significant amount. Our services in this field become even more beneficial when the client’s assets are in another country or in different countries. In such cases of transnational inheritance, expert advice on the different inheritance systems and the principles of conflict between EU and national law, which determine whether one set of norms or another apply, is essential.
Our firm’s services focus on estate and tax planning during the transferor’s lifetime, which is when the appropriate legal systems for the amount and type of assets being transferred can be established most efficiently. If the planning does not take place during the transferor’s lifetime, we come up with the strategy that will most benefit the beneficiaries, advising them on the tax exemptions and discounts available, depending on the territory in which the assets and people are based.
We also provide services in the field of estate settlement and allocation of estate assets, whether they are amicable cases or disputes, and we arrange all of the documentation even if this needs to be compiled or issued abroad, thanks to a large network of international collaborating firms who make this possible.
Our clients are usually from different countries with medium-sized or family-owned businesses and have an intermediate wealth that is subject to potentially heavy taxation.