Solicitors governing body: Bar Association of Costa Rica
Competition authority: Commission for the Promotion of Competition
Financial regulator: SUGEVAL; SUGESE
IFLR1000 ranking categories in this jurisdiction:
Costa Rica is a civil law system heavily influenced by the French and Spanish legal models.
Lawyers in Costa Rica are required to have a Master in Laws (LLM) to practice. In May 2015 the country introduced a mandatory bar exam for lawyers, making it the only Latin American country other than Brazil to require its lawyers to pass a bar exam.
Foreign lawyers who have not re-qualified are only allowed to advise on international law, but do not face regulatory limits.
Many law firms in Costa Rica are regional firms with a presence in countries throughout Central America.
The country has seen considerable growth in its renewable energy sector in recent years and it’s expected that 97% of its electricity will come from renewable energy in 2015. Law firms are taking advantage of this picking up work in project financing and licensing.
AG Legal has an active project development player.
In project development, the firm advised Cansec on the construction of a dry channel and roads connecting Atlantic and Pacific coast.
Key clients include Femetron and Converse.
Aguilar Castillo Love is an active player in the market. The firm’s financing team has advised a mix of borrowers and banks on credit facilities and notes placements. The firm’s corporate team tends to provide general corporate advice to clients and has helped clients set up offices and services. The team has also worked on M&A deals such as the Costa Rican aspects of the HPE Software and Micro Focus merger.
Key clients include Seiko Epson Corporation, DowDupont and Johnson Controls International.
“ACL has subject matter experts that reply on time. Basically that is what an inside counsel needs.” - M&A
“I have worked with and across from ACL. They are excellent. John Aguilar is a great relationship partner and very knowledgeable. We will continue to recommend this firm.” - M&A, Project finance
“They are always available for you as a client. The main point of contact are the highly trained partners and their communication skills are off the charts.” - M&A
Arias is a strong player in banking, M&A and project development matters.
The firm often advises the banks on financing matters. One example of the firm’s work is its advice to Bladex on the syndicated loan to Transnieve.
The firm’s M&A team advises both acquirers and sellers. The firm advised Yara in the sale of CAFESA to Duwest.
In the projects space, the firm advised Ministry of Public Works and Transportation with a program for refurbishing roads.
The firm hired senior counsel Diego Gallegos from IFC and also brought in corporate senior counsel Graciela Soto, M&A senior associate Carlos Ortiz and corporate and real estate senior associate Catalina Chaves.
The firm advises the likes of Proparco, First Citizens Bank and FEDEX.
"Clear explanation of options." - Project development
“In the recent M&A deal we executed Arias was very diligent, effective and prompt with the deadlines required for the transaction, the firm was hired by the seller and they helped us through the transaction as buyer.” - M&A
“Very experienced and good at what they do and they have regional capabilities which is great for the client.” - Project development
“Proactive, professional team, fast answers, customer focus, regional presence.” - Banking
BLP is considered a leader in the market, particularly when it comes to M&A matters, but the firm also has a strong financing practice. In one deal, the firm advised One Equity Partners on the acquisition of One Link.
The firm advises the likes of Accenture, BNP Paribas Securities and Celsia.
Over the research period, the firm absorbed the practice of ANS Legal, a real estate boutique.
“A law firm full of top professionals in all banking areas. Accurate service, best market practices.” - Banking
“BLP is one the best firms in the region, in addition to the necessary technical knowledge they have the knowledge of my business.” - Corporate restructuring
"Competitive, complete legal solution. Specialised departments to assist in all of our legal needs." - Banking, Project development
“Very responsive. Very knowledgeable.” - Project development
“A terrific firm with a commercial attitude and excellent client service ethic.” - Banking, M&A
“Excellent leader within BLP, well connected in the country and with a vast understanding of the real estate world.”
“True professional. Excellent in every way. Creative, prompt, very well connected.”
“Accessible, has the necessary contacts and uses a commercial perspective in his opinions.”
Central Law has an active corporate practice where it provides general corporate advice to clients. For example, the firm advised WIPRO in its establishment in Costa Rica. Other clients include Helicopters in Style, BT LATAM and Caja Ande.
“Great services, expertise, responsible, approachable.” - Banking
Consortium Legal strength is financing deals in Costa Rica. The firm generally acts on the lender’s side. One significant mandate was the firm’s advice to a group of banks on a syndicated credit facility.
The firm advises the likes of Scotiabank de Costa Rica, Citigroup Global Markets and Banco General (Costa Rica).
Over the research period the firm launched a regional fintech group.
“We have a relationship with Consortium in banking. The firm advises us on credit contracts and legal structuring for loans and guarantees. Likewise, advice on the application and contracting of debtors and guarantors in Costa Rica and in other jurisdictions, mainly in Central America and the Caribbean. They are very committed in their work, they demonstrate a lot of knowledge, as well as agility, as well as looking for clear and precise solutions. They have a team with a lot of experience in the sector.” - Banking
Mario Quesada and Randall Barquero
“Very professional and with excellent knowledge of the sector.”
Cordero & Cordero is strong in banking and M&A.
The firm advised Rentokil Initial on an acquisition. Other transactional details and client information was confidential, but other clients included financial institutions.
Dentons Muñoz has been acting in the banking, M&A and projects deals over the research period.
Most of the firm’s recent financing transactions involve advising lenders. One example of this is the firm’s advice to IIC on extending a loan to Financiera CAFSA and Arrendadora CAFSA.
In M&A, the firm advised Agricenter Group in its acquisition by AMVAC Netherlands, though all other M&A work is confidential.
In the projects space, the firm has been active in the transport sector. The firm advised AZVI on a public bid to build the Naranjo-Paquera road and in its bid to build the second phase of the refurbishing of the Pan-American Highway.
The firm advise the likes of Inter-American Investment Corporation and Banco Ficohsa.
"Clear advice." - M&A
ECIJA is an active financial and corporate firm.
The firm advised pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer on corporate matters in Central America and the Caribbean.
In Central America, the firm was previously known as Expertis in Central America, but over the research period the firm merged with Spanish firm ECIJA.
Key clients include Yellow Pallet, Auto Mercado, Costa Rica Biodental, Herbalife international and Ritrama.
“Well prepared. Fast and accurate answers.” – Banking
EY is the result of a merger of the regional firm formerly known as Pacheco Coto and big four tax firm EY. The firm is particularly known for its M&A practice.
Although better known for M&A, the firm has a presence on banking deals. Recent deals include regulatory matters and credit facilities, but the details were confidential.
In one notable M&A deal the firm advised Inchape on the acquisition of Grupo Rudelman.
While the Pacheco Coto lawyers gained access to the global network of EY, two corporate lawyers, Bruce Oswald and Ignacio Monge, left the firm before the formal combination with EY.
Key clients include Infarma Laboratories and Naan Daan Jain.
“Overall was well executed.” - M&A
"Efficient response time to inquiries and great specialised advice on special tax regimes in Costa Rica." - Banking
“Very specialised knowledge in specific areas, and a great ability to resolve complicated issues.”
Facio & Cañas, the Costa Rican member of global network Lex Mundi, has represents an extensive number of banks. The firm tends to advise its clients on regulatory matters and loans. The firm hired associate Diego Soto from Zurcher Odio & Raven. Key clients include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase and Banco de Costa Rica.
Sfera Legal has an active M&A practice. The firm advises both acquirers and sellers and works in a range of sectors. One M&A deal saw the firm advise Vector Capital with the acquisition of a majority stake in Experian’s Cross-Channel Marketing business. The firm is also active on the development and acquisition of real estate projects. Key clients include EEVA Resorts and Compañía Internacional.
“Strong in in real estate development, financing and corporate structuring.” - Real estate
“Very professional and qualified personnel as well as a very fast in response to my needs.” - Banking
“Knowledgeable, transparent, available, motivated, helpful, extremely professional.” - Real estate, M&A
Zürcher Odio & Raven is strong in banking and finance. Transactions include structuring syndicated loans, term loans and financing the development of real estate projects. The firm typically advises the banks. One deal saw the firm work on a cross-border syndicated credit facility. Banco Promerica, Metrobank and Banco General Costa Rica are key clients of the firm.
“Well prepared professionals with knowledge of the financial sector.” - Regulatory
“Zurcher Odio Raven is a very efficient and straightforward law firm, they review the agreements we sign with multilaterals, provide feedback quickly and give advice on what to negotiate and the best wording for transactions.” - Banking
“[Strengths include] transparency, knowledge and risk analysis.”
“Douglas has a lot of knowledge of the industry, is very proactive and is also an effective communicator.”