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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Adrián Magallanes

Adrián Magallanes

Von Wobeser y Sierra SCPaseo de los Tamarindos 60, 4th FloorBosques de las LomasMexico CityMexico05120

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Adrián Magallanes is a highly talented litigator with enviable expertise handling class-action and complex cross-border dispute resolution proceedings.

Questions & Answers

Adrián is a litigation and arbitration expert admitted to practise in Mexico and New York, with close to 20 years of experience. He has acted as counsel in commercial, infrastructure, energy and investor-state disputes. His litigation experience includes administrative and constitutional law trials (amparo) before Mexican courts, class actions and transnational litigations. He has also acted as an expert on Mexican law before courts in the USA, and is professor of international litigation at the Escuela Libre de Derecho.

What inspired you to pursue a legal career?

I discovered early in my life that I was moved by what I thought was unfair, and felt a compulsion to challenge such problems. Later, I realised that I enjoyed debating and proving my points to others, so a career in litigation was a natural destination.

How does your experience in arbitration and commercial litigation enhance your work in administrative litigation?

I have developed my career around cases involving the simultaneous application of administrative and commercial laws. These have included large disputes against government-owned companies in the energy and infrastructure sectors – particularly involving contract-based claims against Pemex, the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) and the Ministry of Transportation. Some of these have been before courts, and others before arbitral tribunals.
These disputes are complex. The solution to the issues in dispute often lies in the intricacies of the relationship between administrative and commercial law, and the manner in which these regimes apply to the contract in question. I can offer two examples.
First, the Ports Act is a public policy statute governing the contracts entered into between the federal government and private companies to operate maritime ports. As per article 4(II) of the statute, this administrative law regime is supplemented by the Commerce Code. Hence, all contractual disputes involving maritime port operations are governed by both administrative and commercial law, so having experience in both types of disputes is an asset.
The CFE recently argued in one of our cases that the contract it executed with a private contractor was governed by administrative law principles, and that the “exorbitant clauses” regime was applicable. This regime assumes that the state and private contractors are not equals in their contractual relationship due to public policy considerations, and the CFE could therefore validly perform actions that would otherwise be invalid if the contract were governed by commercial law. Ultimately, the court ruled in our client’s favour and resolved that the contract was governed by commercial law. I consider that having substantive experience in administrative and commercial litigation was important when creating the winning strategy.

How have major infrastructure projects in Mexico been adversely impacted by covid-19?

Many projects will be affected. I foresee force majeure or change of law claims, and disruption and acceleration disputes. Many contractors and project owners will also lack sufficient economic resources to fully perform contracts as a consequence of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

How has the April 2019 decree from Mexico’s National Center for the Control of Energy affected the renewables sector in Mexico?

It has impacted all renewable energy projects in the pre-operational phase. Mandatory tests required to connect projects to the national grid have been indefinitely suspended, and these projects will not be able to enter their commercial phase until the suspension is lifted. However, the federal judicial branch has granted injunctions staying the decree’s application.

What effect has SENER’s recent decrees had on investors in the renewables sector? 

The October 2019 decree dilutes the monetary value of clean energy certificates. The May 2020 decree sets out the policy that SENER will implement in the energy market and, among other effects, it reflects an apparent intent to favour “strategic plants” of the CFE by placing them first in the energy dispatch order, under the argument that they are not intermittent and are safer for stability purposes. Nonetheless, the federal judicial branch has again granted injunctions in favour of private producers and amparo challenges are pending resolution. 

To what extent do you believe the Mexican government is changing its policy towards renewable energy in the long term, and how will this impact administrative litigation? 

Mexico is a sovereign state and it can change its policy towards renewable energy, provided the rule of law is observed. I perceive that Mexico is changing its policy in a manner prejudicial to private investments in this sector in both the short and the long term.
Over the past 20 months, the federal government has implemented several measures that have caused a detrimental impact to privately owned projects in the industry, and many of them have been challenged in courts. So far, these challenges have been successful and injunctions have been granted. It will be interesting to see how these cases develop on the merits. I am convinced that the arguments many of us are putting forward before courts against these measures are very strong, reasonable and coherent. 

How has covid-19 affected the court system in Mexico? What are the medium-term ramifications of this for future litigations?

Covid-19 has exacerbated the need for online litigation, and I believe online litigation in Mexico will increase significantly. Many law firms have filed their first online complaints during the pandemic and are now comfortable with the system. Also, I believe the federal administrative courts in Mexico City are ready to enter this new phase.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Those who have mentored me have generally led by example, rather than words. However, a nugget of advice that comes to mind, and that I obsessively apply in my practice, is: “Always assume you are missing something when analysing a problem.” Living by this principle has allowed us to push ourselves hard and to analyse disputes from all angles, culminating in innovative strategies that we have fiercely argued in court with very satisfactory results.

Global Leader

Arbitration 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Adrián Magallanes is "a very bright and eloquent" force in Mexico's arbitration market with experience acting as arbitrator and counsel in infrastructure, energy and investor-state disputes.

Biography

Adrián is a litigation and arbitration practitioner admitted to practise in Mexico and New York. He has been a member of Von Wobeser y Sierra since 2002.

Adrián has acted as counsel in ad hoc and institutional arbitrations (ICC, LCIA, ICSID, AAA, ICDR, UNCITRAL, CAM, CANACO) in the commercial, infrastructure, energy, oil and gas, and investor-state sectors. He has also acted as arbitrator in commercial cases.

He appears before Mexican courts – including the Supreme Court – in various types of litigation proceedings, particularly in commercial and administrative law-related disputes. His experience also includes several class actions cases, transnational litigations with parallel proceedings in different jurisdictions, and constitutional law trials.

In addition to his experience in Mexico, Adrián worked in the dispute resolution practice groups of Arnold & Porter LLP (Washington, DC) and King & Wood Mallesons (Beijing, PRC).

He has a law degree (JD), summa cum laude, from the Escuela Libre de Derecho, Mexico City; a certificate in international arbitration from McGill University, Montreal; a specialisation in government contracts from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City (graduating with the highest GPA of his class); and a Master of Laws degree (LLM) from New York University School of Law. He was a recipient of the Arthur Vanderbilt Scholar Award, and the Mexican government also offered him an Academic Excellence Scholarship.

WWL Ranking: Recommended
WWL Ranking: Recommended

National Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Adrián Magallanes is a highly talented litigator with enviable expertise handling class-action and complex cross-border dispute resolution proceedings.

Biography

Adrián is a litigation and arbitration practitioner admitted to practise in Mexico and New York. He has been a member of Von Wobeser y Sierra since 2002.

Adrián has acted as counsel in ad hoc and institutional arbitrations (ICC, LCIA, ICSID, AAA, ICDR, UNCITRAL, CAM, CANACO) in the commercial, infrastructure, energy, oil and gas, and investor-state sectors. He has also acted as arbitrator in commercial cases.

He appears before Mexican courts – including the Supreme Court – in various types of litigation proceedings, particularly in commercial and administrative law-related disputes. His experience also includes several class actions cases, transnational litigations with parallel proceedings in different jurisdictions, and constitutional law trials (amparos).

In addition to his experience in Mexico, Adrián worked in the dispute resolution practice groups of Arnold & Porter LLP (Washington, DC) and King & Wood Mallesons (Beijing, PRC).

Adrián has a law degree (JD), summa cum laude, from the Escuela Libre de Derecho in Mexico City; a certificate in international arbitration from McGill University in Montreal; a specialisation in government contracts from the Ibero-American University in Mexico City, with the highest GPA of his class; and a Master of Laws degree (LLM) from New York University School of Law. He was a recipient of the Arthur Vanderbilt Scholar Award, and the Mexican government also offered him an academic excellence scholarship.

Adrián is admitted to practise in Mexico and New York.

Mexico - Arbitration 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Adrián Magallanes is commended by sources as "an excellent practitioner" in domestic and international commercial arbitrations.

Biography

Adrián is a litigation and arbitration practitioner admitted to practise in Mexico and New York. He has been a member of Von Wobeser y Sierra since 2002.

Adrián has acted as counsel in ad hoc and institutional arbitrations (ICC, LCIA, ICSID, AAA, ICDR, UNCITRAL, CAM, CANACO) in the commercial, infrastructure, energy, oil and gas, and investor-state sectors. He has also acted as arbitrator in commercial cases.

He appears before Mexican courts – including the Supreme Court – in various types of litigation proceedings, particularly in commercial and administrative law-related disputes. His experience also includes several class actions cases, transnational litigations with parallel proceedings in different jurisdictions, and constitutional law trials (amparos).

In addition to his experience in Mexico, Adrián worked in the dispute resolution practice groups of Arnold & Porter LLP (Washington, DC) and King & Wood Mallesons (Beijing, PRC).

Adrián has a law degree (JD), summa cum laude, from the Escuela Libre de Derecho in Mexico City; a certificate in international arbitration from McGill University in Montreal; a specialisation in government contracts from the Ibero-American University in Mexico City, with the highest GPA of his class; and a Master of Laws degree (LLM) from New York University School of Law. He was a recipient of the Arthur Vanderbilt Scholar Award, and the Mexican government also offered him an academic excellence scholarship.

Adrián is admitted to practise in Mexico and New York.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Adrián Magallanes is an impressive commercial litigator with a far-reaching skill set in handling major dispute resolution proceedings.

Biography

Adrián is a litigation and arbitration practitioner admitted to practise in Mexico and New York. He has been a member of Von Wobeser y Sierra since 2002.

Adrián has acted as counsel in ad hoc and institutional arbitrations (ICC, LCIA, ICSID, AAA, ICDR, UNCITRAL, CAM, CANACO) in the commercial, infrastructure, energy, oil and gas, and investor-state sectors. He has also acted as arbitrator in commercial cases.

He appears before Mexican courts – including the Supreme Court – in various types of litigation proceedings, particularly in commercial and administrative law-related disputes. His experience also includes several class actions cases, transnational litigations with parallel proceedings in different jurisdictions, and constitutional law trials (amparos).

In addition to his experience in Mexico, Adrián worked in the dispute resolution practice groups of Arnold & Porter LLP (Washington, DC) and King & Wood Mallesons (Beijing, PRC).

Adrián has a law degree (JD), summa cum laude, from the Escuela Libre de Derecho in Mexico City; a certificate in international arbitration from McGill University in Montreal; a specialisation in government contracts from the Ibero-American University in Mexico City, with the highest GPA of his class; and a Master of Laws degree (LLM) from New York University School of Law. He was a recipient of the Arthur Vanderbilt Scholar Award, and the Mexican government also offered him an academic excellence scholarship.

Adrián is admitted to practise in Mexico and New York.

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