Aruba and Curaco lawyers and firms well presented in quality rankings

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.
Today international publisher Chambers & Partners published its global ranking of law firms Chambers Global for 2020, among others for the Dutch Caribbean.
At the upper levels, the ranking tables continue to be dominated by the traditional market leaders: VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne, HBN Law and Spigt Dutch Caribbean.
For the fourth year in a row, VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne is the only firm ranked in Band 1. 
Five out of the sixteen recommended individual lawyers are partners of VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne.
HBN Law and Spigt Dutch Caribbean continue to be evenly matched in Band 2.
HBN Law has one out of the sixteen ranked individual lawyers.
Like last year Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg has two of the sixteen recommended individual lawyers.
And with the special mention of Maike Bergervoet as upcoming individual, Spigt Dutch Caribbean also has two of the sixteen recommended individuals.
This year a special categorie has been added "Senior Statespeople" with a honorable mention of Randolph van Eps (Van Eps Kunneman VanDoorne). In this categorie lawyers are honored who no longer work hands-on with the same intensity but who, by virtue of close links with major clients, remain pivotal to the firm’s success.
Ranked firms 
In alphabetical order within each band, these are the ranked firms in the category of General Business Law: Dutch Caribbean:
Band 1
VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne
Band 2
Spigt Dutch Caribbean
Band 3
Brown Lawyers
Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg
The initial coverage of the Dutch Caribbean, back in the 2011 edition of Chambers Global, focused exclusively on Curaçao. As Chambers has come to a greater understanding of the region, they have sought to highlight lawyers based on other islands.
Now the exclusively Aruba-based firm Brown Lawyers is featured in the ranking table in Band 2. Its principal, Band 2-ranked Patrick Brown, is especially well regarded for litigation, with market sources going so far as to call him “a market leader.”
Also based on Aruba is individual Band 3-ranked lawyer Johan Paul Sjiem Fat (Sjiem Fat & Co), by interviewees regarded as "a very good lawyer."
Another Band 3-ranked lawyer Kamla Besançon (KB Legal) is based in SInt Maarten and praised for her attentive service to clients, calling her "diligent, highly competent, highly responsive and the perfect lawyer to have in high-intensity transactions."
Ranked lawyers
See below for a full overview of recommended individuals, in alphabetical order within each band:
Senior Statespeople
Randolph van Eps (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne)
Band 1
Karel Frielink (BZSE Attorneys at Law)
Frank B M Kunneman (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne)
Focco W Lunsingh Scheurleer (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne)
Eric de Vries (HBN Law)
Martijn Welten (Spigt Dutch Caribbean)
Band 2
Sabine Altena (OX & WOLF)
Patrick Brown (Brown advocaten)
Band 3
Thomas Aardenburg (Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg)
Kamla Besançon (KB Legal)
Michiel Gorsira (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne)
Rogier van den Heuvel (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne)
Mirto Murray (Murray Attorneys at Law)
Johan Paul Sjiem Fat (Sjiem Fat & Co)
Molly Steward (Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg)
Up-and-coming individuals
Maike Bergervoet (Spigt Dutch Caribbean)
General Business Law - Curaçao (Foreign Expertise)
Based in Dutch Caribbean
with expertise in countries listed below
Suriname VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne
Foreign Desks General Business Law
Based abroad
Dutch Caribbean expertise
based in countries listed below
USA Houthoff
USA NautaDutilh
Foreign Experts (Based Abroad)
General Business Law Dutch Caribbean
Dutch Caribbean expertise
based in countries listed below
Band 1
Netherlands: Chris de Bres (HBN Law)
USA: Helena Sprenger (Houthoff)
Band 2
Netherlands: Barbara Rumora-Scheltema (NautaDutilh)
USA: Elizabeth van Schilfgaarde (NautaDutilh)
Associates to watch
USA: Bouke Boersma (Houthoff)
Law Firms
On VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne Chambers says the firm "fields a strong and deep bench of practitioners. The firm provides a comprehensive service to international and local clients, with the team's expertise ranging from secured debt financing to shareholder disputes and oil and gas transactions. Sources are pleased that "they always go the extra mile for clients." "In addition to the Dutch Caribbean, the firm also advises on Suriname-related transactions.
HBN Law: "maintains an excellent reputation in the Dutch Caribbean and possesses strong capabilities in both litigation and M&A. Clients benefit from its considerable network of offices, with the firm present throughout the Dutch Caribbean and in Amsterdam. Commentators particularly remark on the firm's deep expertise in government-related matters and highlight its team of "really good partners," who are said to be "very smart, practical and hands-on.""
On Spigt Dutch Caribbean is said the firm "receives plaudits for its corporate and regulatory work, and is one of the first choices for financial institutions in both contentious and non-contentious issues. Among other matters, the firm's expertise encompasses resort development and a wide variety of M&A and financing transactions. Clients applaud the “very good” team for its solution-focused approach, as well as its emphasis on "thinking outside the box" and "always delivering what they promise.""
About Brown Lawyers: "Aruba-based Brown Lawyers covers a plethora of practice areas, offering clients expertise in corporate/M&A, intellectual property and labour law, among other areas. The firm also possesses a strong litigation capability. One source said: "I would refer work to them if a client asked for a good lawyer in Aruba.""
OX & WOLF: "continues to leave a strong impression on the market, possessing particular strengths in shipping and insurance matters. It is a popular choice for international law firms seeking expertise in Curaçao law, and sources praise the "phenomenal job" the team does in all its dealings. Reflecting on its performance, one source noted: "The firm did a superb job and were a valued service provider. They drafted very detailed documents – they’re very impressive people and I’d work with them again in a heartbeat.""
On Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg the comments are: "Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg is a full-service firm providing a wealth of expertise in corporate law. The team exhibits notable proficiency in employment, bankruptcy and banking matters, with additional capabilities in intellectual property and real estate. Sources remark that the firm has "a really steady practice" and inspires great loyalty among its clients."
Reviews on recommended individuals
Randolph van Eps (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne) "remains a leading presence within the firm. He is highly knowledgeable regarding both litigation and non-contentious matters, and is said to be “very determined” in pursuing a client’s cause."
Karel Frielink (BZSE Attorneys at Law) "iis a leading light in the Dutch Caribbean and is widely admired as a "very smart lawyer." He is a gifted litigator and is considered by one source to be "a very valuable asset to have on the island." The managing partner of BZSE’s Curaçao office, he is also the Dutch Caribbean representative of asset-tracing legal network ICC FraudNet."
The "very well known" Frank B M Kunneman (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne) "is respected for his exceptional capabilities in corporate governance. He maintains a wealth of knowledge in pensions and shareholder agreements, and continues to teach part-time at the University of Curaçao."
Focco Lunsingh Scheurleer (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne) "is an esteemed corporate lawyer and “technical strategic thinker” who is a popular choice of counsel for banks and financial institutions across the Dutch Caribbean and beyond. His "depth of knowledge, practical solutions, accessibility and responsiveness" are highly valued by clients, particularly in the areas of financing and capital markets."
Eric de Vries (HBN Law) is "one of the market's leading attorneys, and a "very sharp, practical and intelligent lawyer," according to commentators. He is well regarded for his exceptional understanding of multi-stranded corporate transactions and contentious issues. One source noted: "He has a magnificent understanding of the market; he knows what's going on and understands the relationships between all parties.""
Martijn Welten (Spigt Dutch Caribbean) "is roundly praised as one of the Dutch Caribbean's top corporate lawyers. Sources champion him as "somebody who’s good to have at the table when you're negotiating." Interviewees also value his commerciality, with one interviewee stating: "Besides being a lawyer, he understands business and uses his legal knowledge to solve business problems."."
Sabine Altena (OX & WOLF) "is lauded for her advice on regulatory matters, corporate transactions and investment fund launches. Sources praise her "really great grasp of the statutes and regulations that apply," adding: "She does an excellent job.""
Patrick Brown (Brown advocaten) is "one of the leading lawyers on the island of Aruba. Commentators say he is "an excellent lawyer" who is "easy to approach and knowledgeable in this field." Noted for his expertise in finance transactions, he is equally highlighted for his work in high-stakes litigation.."
Michiel Gorsira (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne) is "is a capable litigator who is particularly noted for his expertise in bankruptcies and insurance disputes. He is best known for his role as the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy trustee in Curaçao."
Thomas Aardenburg (Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg) "assists clients with M&A, corporate restructuring and bankruptcy work, as well as commercial litigation. Interviewees regard him as “a nice guy” who is “very client-aware.”"
Sources praise Kamla Besançon (KB Legal)  "for her attentive service to clients, calling her "diligent, highly competent, highly responsive and the perfect lawyer to have in high-intensity transactions." She provides extensive expertise in M&A and financing."
Rogier van den Heuvel (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne) is highlighted for his skill as a litigator, and"possesses a keen understanding of insolvency matters. He is also experienced in competition, shareholder and M&A disputes, and is described by sources as a "good lawyer” with a “very active" practice."
Mirto Murray (Murray Attorneys at Law) "maintains a broad-ranging practice which covers both transactions and litigation. He is regarded as "definitely someone to reckon with" on Curaçao and is a skilled negotiator in M&A mandates."
Johan Paul Sjiem Fat (Sjiem Fat & Co) "is based on Aruba and is regarded by interviewees as "a very good lawyer." Sources highly rate his capabilities for M&A work, with one commentator affirming that "he's a smart lawyer and it was good to work with him.""
Molly Steward (Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg)"has established a strong reputation in labour and employment law. She is remarked upon as "an excellent lawyer" and "somebody who looks for solutions." Her practice covers contentious and non-contentious employment matters."
Maike Bergervoet (Spigt Dutch Caribbean) "Flexible, efficient and easy to work with," up-and-comer Maike Bergervoet continues to develop her reputation for finance mandates. Clients praise her "very cool and calm demeanour" during transactions.
Chris de Bres (HBN Law)Foreign Desks General Business Law Based abroad "is a masterful disputes practitioner, described as someone who "really stands out for complex commercial disputes." He also assists with transactions, and his legal skills have sources praising his technical excellence." He recently relocated to Amsterdam but continues to spend a significant amount of time in HBN’s Bonaire office.
Helena Sprenger (Houthoff) is a respected lawyer whose "attention to detail, thoroughness and responsiveness are unmatched." Operating from Houthoff's New York office, she maintains a strong practice in cross-border corporate finance, M&A and securities. Sources point to her strong working relationships with firms based in the Dutch Caribbean, citing this as a particular advantage in working with her.
Barbara Rumora-Scheltema (Nauta Dutilh) "assists clients with restructuring and insolvency matters, and possesses additional strengths in litigation and arbitration. Based in Amsterdam, she acts on cases throughout the Kingdom of the Netherlands, including the Dutch Caribbean."
New York-based Elizabeth van Schilfgaarde (Nauta Dutilh) "is a popular choice for financial services clients with interests in the Dutch Caribbean, and is particularly gifted at structuring cross-border transactions between these islands and the USA. Sources praise her considerable intelligence and knowledge of the law."
Sources highlight senior associate Bouke Boersma (Houthoff) for his "strong understanding of local legal and business conditions in the Dutch Caribbean." He assists clients with transactional matters as well as international arbitrations and is based in New York.
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.
13 February 2020
Dutch Caribbean Legal Portal

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