Chile : An Introduction
1. Litigation in ordinary courts:
Unless otherwise agreed in a contract, or in the law, the general rule is that all conflicts that may occur inside the Chilean territory have to be acknowledged by ordinary justice. This rule has resulted in a heavy workload for the judiciary and has sometimes led to excessive delays. In addition, ordinary courts can only give decisions according to the law. Arbitrators by contrast are entitled to rule also according to justice with prior consent between the parties being reached.
In general terms, judicial proceedings are subject to the following procedural steps:
a. First Instance: In general the process begins in ordinary or special courts that will know the facts and apply the law.
b. Appeal Courts: There are 17 such courts situated across the country. An appeal court is a court that hears cases on appeal from another court. Any party in a case that is unhappy with the result of a first instance court is able to challenge this result in an appeal court on specific grounds. These grounds can include errors relating to the law, facts or procedures.
c. Supreme Court: This is the highest court in Chile and its purpose is to hear the nullity appeals against sentences dictated by the appeal courts. It does not review facts, just the law.
This is a mechanism of conflict resolution through a private judge appointed by the parties by mutual agreement or subsidised by the ordinary courts. Arbitration in Chile, despite being more expensive, has proved to be a satisfactory method of dispute resolution given how many cases take place in the ordinary courts of justice. Arbitration may be institutional or ad-hoc.
Notwithstanding the above, according to Chilean law, almost all decisions from arbitrators are subject to revision by superior courts in the country. Therefore, this revision may involve the intervention of ordinary courts when it comes to issuing final awards. The efficiency and the utmost dedication of judges in this system often make it a more preferable option to the public than the ordinary courts system.
As one of Chile's leading law firms, Carey y Cía has no shortage of impressive clients. Over the past year the team has handled some highly complex cases on behalf of prestigious clients such as Stemcor UK, Kinross Gold and MetLife. It played a major role in the Clarín case, which, at a value of USD515 million, stands as the largest lawsuit ever brought against the Republic of Chile. Department head Gonzalo Fernández defended the State in this case. Clients say: "He stands out for his litigation prowess, his commercial vision and his utter perseverance. He provides clear-cut advice, which is both rare and invaluable."
Clients find it hard to fault this boutique. Its presence in the market is significant and it typically features on highly complex litigation and arbitration cases. It advises long-standing client The Angelini Group on a wide range of matters, including energy and environment matters, commercial cases and civil lawsuits. It recently represented the group in a purchase price dispute. Clients highlight that Álvaro Ortúzar "is a tremendous lawyer who provides a tailor-made service in even the most complicated matters." Pedro Aguila works closely with Ortúzar and is considered the "heart and soul of the firm."
Since publication, Álvaro Ortúzar has joined Ortúzar, Vergara & Boetsch Abogados
Clients are quick to praise this dispute resolution boutique. The group comes highly regarded in civil and commercial litigation, arbitration, competition and antitrust law, and administrative law and white-collar crime. Its client portfolio includes well-known names such as Automotores Gildemeister, Minera Melón and Compañía Minera Pimentón. It recently acted for Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit over a breach of contract. Davor Harasic stands out for his versatility in civil and criminal matters. Clients enthuse that he is "excellent, sharp and very well regarded by his peers." In white-collar crime, clients turn to Julián López. "He is naturally detail-oriented so he really gets to the bottom of things and also offers a very personal service and is dedicated to each and every client," enthuse clients.
of Barros Letelier & Cia is an authority in the market and is particularly well regarded for his knowledge of tort law. Clients turn to Alfredo Alcaíno
of Alcaíno Rodríguez & Sahli Abogados for his litigation and corporate expertise. Manuel José Vial
is a well-regarded arbitration expert at Grupo Vial Abogados and is also visible in corporate and business transactions. Ramón Dominguez
of Noguera, Larrain & Dulanto has developed a strong reputation for his well-honed litigation expertise. Esteban Ovalle
co-founded his own dispute resolution boutique, Ovalle Ugarte Letelier Abogados. Sources praise his ability to "always make himself fully available for clients." Fernando Samaniego
leads the practice group at Prieto y Cía and impresses clients with his expert handling of disputes related to the mining and electricity sector. Clients have the "highest possible opinion"
of Alfredo Etcheberry
of Estudio Etcheberry when it comes to white-collar crime. His colleague René García
is "admirable and nuanced in his approach to complex white-collar crime issues,"
according to clients. Luis Ortiz Quiroga
of Puga Ortiz is widely regarded as an expert in white-collar crime. At the same firm, Leonardo Battagllia
and Cristián Muga Aitken
are consistently highlighted by market sources for their skills in white-collar crime litigation. Dyalá Jiménez
established DJ Arbitraje as a solo practice in early 2011. The new firm is set to give her the opportunity to act as an independent arbitrator, as well as an expert adviser in highly complex, international arbitrations, for which she is widely regarded. Jorge Vial
of Urenda, Rencoret, Orrego y Dörr heads the dispute resolution department and his practice is focused on civil and commercial litigation, as well as arbitration and alternative dispute resolution. He obtained a favourable judgment for Dow Chemical Company from the Chilean Supreme Court, which ended a long-standing dispute between the company and Ibener on a multimillion electric power supply agreement. Miguel Chaves P
left Bofill Mir & Alvarez Jana Abogados to join Chaves Awad Contreras Schürmanof Chaves Awad Contreras Schürman. He provides excellent support in white-collar crime matters.