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Latin Lawyer 250 2017

Benites, Forno & Ugaz Abogados

Peru

Criminal law and litigation excellence

  • Established: 1992
  • Partners: 12
  • Total lawyers: 48

Though Benites, Forno & Ugaz Abogados is very much a traditional corporate firm, it is in criminal law and disputes that it is a stand-out performer. This is a considerable asset given the growing demand for both in the country: it says a lot that a handful of firms in this chapter have followed Benites Forno’s lead in establishing white-collar crime and compliance practices. Name partner José Ugaz doubles up as chair of the Transparency International board. Labour law and related disputes are another forte and the focus of much of the firm’s recent growth, while its transactional offering is sound.

Benites Forno also stands out for the pro bono cases it takes on, which are often high-profile and sensitive.

Outposts in the northern cities of Trujillo and Huaraz make Benites Forno one of the few firms in the country with a regional presence, while a new office in Lima’s financial district brings the firm closer to clients.

Offices

While the firm’s main office is in Lima, Benites Forno also has offices in the northern cities of Trujillo and Huaraz.

Practice Areas

White collar crime and compliance

Key partners: The highly-esteemed José Ugaz and Luis Vargas, who are both recommended in LACCA Approved, and Hector Gadea are all noted players. As the chair of anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, Ugaz is a draw. He is a well-known anti-corruption and human rights advocate and famously acted as special prosecutor investigating Peru’s former spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos. He also worked at the institutional integrity department of the World Bank.  

Analysis: Benites Forno is unusual in this chapter for its reputation for criminal law. This is a highly-regarded team that is something of an authority in the field of white-collar crime. Consequently, it is the first port of call for many companies looking to educate their workforces on the subject. The team has a track record of helping companies bat off accusations of environmental negligence and defending company management against bribery claims.

Litigation

Key partners: Criminal litigation expert José Ugaz and Hugo Forno are towering presences in the practice area, which is led by Forno and Melissa Nuñez. Depth is added by Victor García, former president of the court of Lima. Both he and Nuñez come recommended in LACCA Approved.

Analysis: Litigation is a flagship practice for Benites Forno and the firm has enviable expertise in corporate, constitutional, civil and regulatory law proceedings. Representative work includes defending mining and oil and gas companies against environmental damages claims. The team has also defended an international auditor against claims of negligence. 

Labour

Key partners: Jorge Luis Acevedo, who comes recommended in LACCA Approved, heads a department of six associates and receives praise for his “practical sense” and the personal approach with which he serves clients.

Analysis: This department has experienced a lot of growth over the last decade. Common work carried out by the labour department includes acting on behalf of employers fighting unfair dismissal claims – especially in the Supreme Court, where the firm has recently scored some victories. Negotiating collective bargaining agreements is also a busy area, while immigration is a newer focus.

Work highlights: The firm helped microfinance company Financiera Confianza face down a wrongful dismissal claim in the Supreme Court. The case was notable in that it involved a judicial precedent. In another Supreme Court case, lawyers defended Lima Airport Partners in a complaint filed by an employee.

Administrative law

Key partners: Victor García, Willy Pedreshi and Daniel Figallo, who returned to the firm in 2015 following a leave of absence while he served as Peru’s Secretary of Justice.

Analysis: Representative work includes advising companies on the paperwork involved with infrastructure projects, and drafting rules for public bids on behalf of government bodies.

Pro bono

Key partners: Hector Gadea and José Ugaz.

Analysis: Benites Forno stands out in this chapter for its willingness to take on high-profile and controversial cases for free. Recently this has included working on a sexual abuse case involving Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a Catholic order. In 2016, the firm also helped the family of Alianza football fan Walter Oyarce secure 25-year jail sentences for his killers.


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