Every spring legal publishers present their view on the global market for legal services. In their so called “legal directories”, they provide information for potential buyers of legal services, ranking law firms and their individual attorneys according to their credentials and experience.
In alphfabetical order within each band, these are the ranked firms in the category of General Business Law: Dutch Caribbean:
VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne
Spigt Dutch Caribbean
Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg
On VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne Chambers says "This firm benefits from a deep bench, with offices in Curaçao, Aruba, Bonaire and Sint Maarten, positioning it well to assist clients with a broad range of matters across the Dutch Caribbean. The team possesses expertise in corporate/M&A, finance, IP and employment law, in addition to litigation. It regularly works alongside magic circle and leading Dutch firms on high-profile cross-border instructions.Clients include the Guardian Group, Royal Bank of Canada, the government of Curaçao and UTS Group. The Curaçao office is also home to the firm's Suriname desk, which is a source of regular transactional matters."
Five out of the twelve recommended individual lawyers are partners of VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne.
HBN Law has two out of the twelve ranked individual lawyers, like last year.
The reviews regarding the Band 2 and 3 firms are as follows:
HBN Law is described as: "one of the largest and best-established firms in the Dutch Caribbean, and is greatly valued by clients for its depth of experience. It is particularly well regarded for dispute resolution, having handled several large, cross-border arbitrations as well as high-profile litigation cases. The firm is also active in transactional matters. It advised Avianca Holdings on the USD343.7 million acquisition of a 30% stake in its frequent flyer programme by Advent International. The firm's other areas of strength include real estate and telecoms work."
On Spigt Dutch Caribbean Chambers says that the firm "maintains "an excellent reputation" in the Dutch Caribbean. Recent highlights include advising a Curaçao-based company on a proposed US IPO and assisting with the establishment of several Curaçao-domiciled trusts. The team also handles mandates in the hospitality and real estate sectors, including the financing, development and sale of major hotel complexes. Clients include a number of regional and domestic banks."
SMS Attorneys at Law: "This compact firm has a well-established presence in the market. The team has acted on litigation mandates on behalf of public sector and energy clients, and also has experience advising on litigious matters in the private client space. It remains very active in the corporate sphere, assisting with financings, M&A and corporate restructurings, including roles on high-value, cross-border transactions. Labour and construction law are other areas of expertise."
Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg: "Soliana regularly receives referral work from other law firms in the Dutch Caribbean. It is active on transactional and contentious matters, with notable roles in international arbitrations. The firm also has experience assisting with the enforcement of arbitral awards in Curaçao. On the non-contentious side it possesses expertise in employment, IP and real estate, in addition to finance and M&A. The firm offers wide coverage of the Dutch Caribbean with offices in Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Bonaire."
STvB: "This firm has a presence in the transactional and corporate advisory spheres, with the team in Curaçao benefiting from additional resources in the firm's Amsterdam and New York offices. The firm acts for international and Curaçao-listed corporations, as well as insurance companies and financial institutions. Finance is also a particular area of expertise, with examples of its work including advising on the provision of high-value credit facilities."
Chambers & Partners also annually ranks individuals. This year twelve lawyers receive this honorable praise. Five of this elite group of lawyers come from Band 1 firm VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne and two from HBN Law. All other firms have one named lawyer.
With Chris de Bres of HBN Law (in Band 2 from Band 3), Patrick Brown of Brown Advocaten (Band 3) and Michiel Gorsira of VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne (Band 2) both Aruba, Bonaire and St. Maarten have one ranked lawyer.
New in the ranking in Band 3 is Molly Steward of VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne.
See below for a full overview of recommended individuals, in alphabetical order within each band:
Eric de Vries (HBN Law)
Karel Frielink (BZSE Attorneys at Law)
Frank B M Kunneman (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne)
Randolph van Eps (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne)
Martijn Welten (Spigt Dutch Caribbean)
Chris de Bres (HBN Law)
Michiel Gorsira (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne)
Focco W Lunsingh Scheurleer (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne)
Thomas Aardenburg (Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg)
Patrick Brown (Brown advocaten)
Mirto Murray (SMS Attorneys-at-Law)
Molly Steward (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne)
All reviews on recommended individuals:
Eric de Vries (HBN Law) "This litigation heavyweight enjoys a sterling reputation amongst sources. His creativity and flexibility are especially valued, with one client describing him as "a very outside-the-box thinker; he comes up with straightforward solutions to problems that initially seem quite complex." He is also active on financing and M&A matters, and is praised by fellow lawyers for his "business-minded approach." "
Karel Frielink (BZSE Attorneys at Law Curacao) "Interviewees are full of praise for Karel Frielink, the Curaçao managing partner of BZSE Attorneys at Law. He is regarded as a leading authority on corporate law in the Dutch Caribbean, with a considerable academic output. "He has an excellent way of putting himself in the client's shoes," said a source."
Frank Kunneman (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne) "is a renowned expert on corporate governance, and clients value his experience in government relations work. Market sources state: "He is very thorough," and praise his in-depth understanding of public sector issues."
Randolph van Eps (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne) "commands great respect in the market, with a practice that encompasses litigation as well as transactional mandates. His work includes advising Foundation Pension Fund Vidanova on its USD32 million acquisition of a majority stake in SFT Bank. He is the key contact within the firm for Suriname matters."
Martijn Welten (Spigt Dutch Caribbean) is "regarded by commentators as "one of the best litigators in the Dutch Caribbean." He has significant experience acting on insolvency proceedings and works regularly with major financial institutions active in the region. He also advises on corporate/M&A matters."
Bonaire-based Chris de Bres (HBN Law) "is recommended for his litigation practice, with clients including several international banks, as well as companies from the energy and telecoms sectors. Sources praise his detail-oriented approach. One client said: "He was able to give good insights into the technicalities of our case. He's a very smart guy and was very well prepared for our hearing." "
Sint Maarten-based Michiel Gorsira "is acknowledged as "one of the leading insolvency experts" in the Dutch Caribbean. Outside the insolvency arena, he has a broad litigation practice with notable expertise in maritime and insurance disputes."
Focco Lunsingh Scheurleer (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne): "Peers respect Focco Lunsingh Scheurleer for his finance expertise, noting that he is "a pleasure to work with and very efficient." His work highlights include advising CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank on its financing for the expansion of a wind farm project."
Commentators highlight Thomas Aardenburg's (Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg) "considerable abilities as a litigator. He is also active in non-contentious matters, possessing notable experience in areas such as hedge fund formation, M&A and corporate governance, among others."
Patrick Brown (Brown Advocaten) "is regarded by market sources as one of the best-known and most active commercial lawyers on Aruba. His client base includes noted financial institutions as well as companies in the insurance and hospitality sectors."
Mirto F. Murray
(SMS Attorneys at Law) is " is a well-respected litigator who sources value for his clear understanding of complex issues and breadth of expertise. Peers regard him as a sensible and solution-oriented opponent, observing that his commercial litigation practice is complemented by a considerable understanding of criminal law."
Employment law expert Molly Steward (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne) is "described by sources as "responsive and easy to work with." She was the lead partner acting for Marriott in litigation relating to employee dismissals."
For twenty five years this reputable legal publishing house has been publishing the leading directories of the legal profession. In their process they select firms based on three steps: submissions put forward by law firms upon request of the publisher; client interviews seeking feedback and lawyer interviews providing peer reviews, both administered by seasoned and objective researchers; and, finally, database research.
The qualities on which rankings are assessed include technical legal ability, professional conduct, client service, commercial astuteness, diligence, commitment, and other qualities most valued by the client.
Individual lawyers are ranked (in their practice-area(s)) on the basis of their legal knowledge and experience, their ability, their effectiveness, and their client-service.
Law firms and individual lawyers are ranked in bands from 1-6, with 1 being the best.
For last year’s publication, please click here
16 March 2017
Dutch Caribbean Legal Portal