Dispute resolution
Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz (ACCRALAW)

ACCRALAW is a market leader with a strong capability in handling a vast range of complex and high-value disputes. The firm has an excellent track record acting on high-profile commercial litigation, employment and regulatory disputes. The firm is well equipped to handle complex alternative dispute resolution and international arbitration matters.

Victor Lazatin and Francisco Lim are star litigators in the market covering commercial as well as regulatory disputes. Patricia-Ann Prodigalidad is noted for her construction and IP expertise while Oliver Pantaleon specialises in energy and tax matters. Managing partner Emerico Guzman is a well-known labour and employment specialist.

The team represented Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company (Metrobank) in an appeal before the Supreme Court initiated by Panacan Lumber Company in relation to its complaint against Solidbank, which was acquired by Metrobank. In another matter, the team provided counsel for Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) and Meralco Industrial Engineering Services Corporation as respondents in defending a complaint of cutting trees in a park without procuring the necessary permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The firm has been steadily building out its litigation practice through noticeable hires of late. It also promoted Jessa Cantano to partner in January 2021.

Aurora Polytechnic Colleges, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Federal Land and Insightech Global Consulting instructed the firm during the research period.

Client feedback

“Very thorough on advisory of risks versus possible actions that can be taken when dealing with government offices when working to meet requirements.” – Government and regulatory

Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia

Led by Simeon Marcelo, Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia is highly regarded in the dispute resolution field with solid expertise in the areas of commercial and transactions, intellectual property and alternative dispute resolution. The firm is singled out for its remarkable track record of acting on high-profile public interest cases and pro bono cases. It serves large domestic and international corporations across a range of industries including government, insurance, consumer goods and services and energy.

Miguel Silos is noted for his commercial and tax disputes expertise while John Jerico Balisnomo is active in government and regulatory litigation. Susan Villanueva focuses on IP.

Among the IP cases, the firm’s dedicated team, led by Villanueva, successfully enforced Sunmaru Confectionery Manufacturing Corporation’s mark against a confusingly similar mark filed by one of the most popular luxury jewellery retailers. The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) rejected the retailer’s trademark application. In another highlight, the team successfully represented a global manufacturer of household products in a trademark opposition case against a local manufacturer. In addition, the team is also assisting various groups of Filipino artists in asserting their royalty rights under the intellectual property code.

Du-Baladad & Associates

Tax boutique law firm Du-Baladad & Associates is recognised for providing high-end tax services from tax advisory, dispute resolution and advocacy to tax compliance and transfer pricing. The firm’s tax lawyers have extensive experience handling local and international issues, tax disputes and litigation resulting in the cancellation of assessments. Key industry sectors for the firm include banking and financial services, power and energy, real estate, manufacturing, and technology.

Key figures at the firm include founding partner Benedicta Du-Baladad and managing partner Fulvio Dawilan. Irwin Nidea and Rodel Unciano are also partners to note.

The firm successfully represented the largest oil refining company in the Philippines in filing a refund claim of erroneously paid excise taxes with the tax authority. The firm secured the client a favourable ruling. In a landmark case, the firm acted for a global bank in a tax dispute at the Supreme Court. The matter involved the collection of alleged deficient internal revenue from the bank’s merger back in 1996 with another banking institution. This is a landmark case that sets a new precedent as to the reckoning date of prescription that would bar the tax authority from enforcing collection, in cases where the date of assessment and receipt of the taxpayer of such assessment is not clear.

Gatmaytan Yap Patacsil Gutierrez & Protacio (C&G Law)

Gatmaytan Yap Patacsil Gutierrez & Protacio (C&G Law), a member firm of Rajah & Tann Asia, has a strong domestic and international arbitration practice. The firm’s litigation experience covers a diverse range of subjects such as contractual disputes, product liability, tax and enforcement of foreign judgements and arbitral awards.

Ben Dominic Yap, managing partner of the firm, specialises in litigation and arbitration with expertise in corporate and energy matters. Other key contacts include Jesus Paolo Protacio, a specialist in civil and commercial litigation as well as labour, criminal and general disputes, and tax specialist Anthony Mark Gutierrez.

In an ongoing commercial dispute, the firm is representing Standard Chartered Bank in its sizable claim against Philippine Guarantee Corporation. The claim arises from the defendant’s failure to honour its obligations under a guaranteed agreement pursuant to which it secured a loan facility extended by Standard Chartered Bank (and three other banks) to Philippine Phosphate Corporation which later defaulted due to insolvency. The firm obtained a favourable judgment awarding more than PHP1 billion ($19.4 million) to the bank and the judgment is currently under appeal.   

Poblador Bautista & Reyes

Founded in 1994, Poblador Bautista & Reyes is a top tier firm in dispute resolution and its partners are recognised as leading litigators in the country. The firm has extensive experience in the fields of commercial litigation and arbitration, government and regulatory, insolvency and intellectual property. It is a go-to firm for big-ticket litigation as well as international arbitration, notably active in the energy and infrastructure sectors.  

Alexander Poblador, Gilbert Raymund Reyes, Mario Luza Bautista and Dino Viviencio Tamayo are recommended for their commercial and regulatory disputes expertise, while Bautista and Tamayo are also noted for their respective experience in insolvency and intellectual property.

In the government and regulatory space, the team is representing a group of provincial bus operators in filing a claim against the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Land Transportation Franchise Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for violation of clients’ constitutional right. The matter arose from MMDA and LTFRB’s effort to curb the worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila, when they banned several thousand provincial public utility buses from transporting commuters along the region’s busiest highway.

An ongoing dispute matter in the energy sector sees the firm representing South Premiere Power Corporation in defending a civil suit commenced by Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation over alleged deficient generation payments under an independent power producer administration agreement. The firm secured an injunction against the government’s termination of the agreement.

In intellectual property, the IP litigators were triumphant for its client, major international garment manufacturer Levi Strauss & Co, in protecting its ‘LEVIS’ trademarks. The Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in favour of the firm’s client. The High Court also noted that the marks are used on competing goods, and that the actual product labels are ‘very much similar with one another’ and have ‘the same look and feel’.

The firm’s recent client roster includes Camp John Hay Development Corporation, Fil-Estate Properties, Intel Corporation, Petron Corporation and San Miguel Energy Corporation.

Client feedback

“The firm understands both the commercial realities and legal limitations of the client. On this basis, it provides easily understandable, precise and helpful advice with all the required analysis, both from a commercial and legal perspective.” – Commercial and transactions

Alexander Poblador

“Alex has a firm grasp of the law and legal concepts as applied to a particular set of factual circumstances. He is quick to analyse and innovative in his approach to proposing solutions.”

Puyat Jacinto & Santos (PJS Law)

Puyat Jacinto & Santos (PJS Law) demonstrates comprehensive expertise across civil, commercial and criminal litigation. It is noted for its extensive corporate and government administrative bodies client base. It boasts a suite of lawyers with direct experience in alternative dispute resolution including domestic and international arbitration and mediation. The firm is also committed to taking on pro bono instructions.

Key practitioners include Roy Enrico Santos, Joshua Gilbert Paraiso and Fidel Valeros. All of them are adept in commercial disputes with a particular focus on energy litigation.

Quisumbing Torres

Quisumbing Torres advises on a range of dispute matters but is best known for its commercial disputes and international arbitration work. As a member firm of Baker McKenzie, the firm is actively representing clients in cross-border disputes. The firm’s cases also highlight work in construction, labour and employment, intellectual property and tax.

Donemark Calimon is noted for his capability in commercial disputes and international arbitration. Managing partner Ramon Quisumbing and labour and employment lawyers Kenneth Chua, Gil Roberto Zerrudo and Eliseo Zuñiga are other key contacts. IP specialists include Divina Ilas-Panganiban and Bienvenido Marquez III.

Notable cases include the firm assisting an American chemical conglomerate in international commercial arbitration involving a non-solicitation clause in a contract with its local client; assisting a Singapore-based oil trading company in a petition for interim measure of protection under the special rules of court and subsequent international commercial arbitration; and advising aircraft lessors constituting the biggest group of creditors in a restructuring matter involving a major transportation company in the Philippines.

The rest of the clients who instructed the firm during the research period remain highly confidential.

Client feedback

“Provided comprehensive advice on local law aspects of liability and obligations in respect of operating as a contractor under FIDIC MDB 2010.” – Construction

“The firm stays up to date on docket events and keeps us up to date. The firm is well connected in the jurisdiction.” – Product liability and recall

Donemark Calimon

“He well understands our concerns and provides advice accurately in a timely manner.”

“He takes time to understand our needs and problems to ensure full background knowledge of the issues related to our requested advice before moving forward on any issue.”

Siguion Reyna Montecillo & Ongsiako

One of the oldest full-service law firms in the country, Siguion Reyna Montecillo & Ongsiako has proven expertise in handling a range of litigation and arbitration cases, especially in labour and employment. The firm’s clients include large domestic companies, high-net-worth individuals and Fortune 500 companies primarily from the UK, Germany, Sweden and Italy. Industry specialties include aviation, energy, and banking and financial services.

Rolando Mario Villonco spearheads the widely lauded labour department of the firm.

The firm is a Philippine member of the TAGLaw international alliance, a global alliance of 150 independent law firms.

SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan

One of the market’s leading full-service firms, SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan’s litigation and arbitration practice provides clients with disputes strategies to bridge conflict and avoid lawsuits. The firm often handles precedent-setting cases with unparalleled commercial law experience in the most significant and high-scale cases. Active in all court levels, it is particularly strong in appellate and Supreme Court practice. It has extensive experience in product liability cases, energy and infrastructure disputes, and domestic and international arbitration involving industrial projects across all industries.

Carlos Roberto Lopez, Emmanuel Lombos, Leslie Dy and Ricardo Ongkiko are key individuals.

The firm is providing counsel for the respondents, a group of officers of Hawker Pacific Asia, to defend several suits filed by Complainant Asian Aerospace Corporation over conspiracy and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The matter involved a contract to inspect and overhaul four Bell 412 helicopters of the office of the president of the Philippines. The Supreme Court’s Resolution contains several important rulings in criminal law, the law on public officers, and government procurement law.

In another ongoing matter, the firm is representing two multinational mining companies, one of which is the largest gold mining company in the world, in defending against a petition for a Writ of Kalikasan (a legal remedy under the Philippines law that provides protection of one's constitutional right to a healthy environment) filed by certain individuals supported by their provincial government. This case is significant as it involves fundamental questions on the capacity of Philippine courts to acquire jurisdiction over companies with no businesses in the Philippines. The resolution of this issue will greatly aid in clarifying jurisprudence on the matter.

Its major clients include Filminera Resources Corporation, Hedcor, Mitsubishi Corporation, OceanaGold and Platinum Group Metals Corporation.

Client feedback

“Very knowledgeable in CBA negotiations. The lawyers have been willing to sit with the management team as part of the management panel and provide sound advice. They have been there in all pre-meetings as I requested before the CBA Negotiation.” – Labour and employment

“We can trust the firm with its directions in terms of legal labour issues.” – Labour and employment

Leslie Dy

“Leslie Dy has been our retainer lawyer for the past 12 years. She knows the history of the company and she makes herself available at any time. We were able to develop a good client working relationship and she always provides sound legal advice.”

“Everything she does for the bank exceeds the management's expectations.”

Villaraza & Angangco

Villaraza & Angangco was built on the legacy of former Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio. The firm is a recognised name in litigation relating to commercial, government and regulatory, and employment disputes. The team is also active in the banking, telecoms, real estate, energy and infrastructure sectors.

Some of the key names for commercial and regulatory disputes include Alejandro Alfonso Navarro, Augusto San Pedro and Thea Daep. Joseph Anthony Lopez heads the litigation team. In intellectual property, Bienvenido Somera and Katrina Doble are the names to note.

The firm successfully represented the directors and officers of Fountel Corporation and Felicitas Antoinette in a shareholder dispute against multiple intra-corporate and criminal litigations. The matter involved the corporation’s acquisition of shares in Professional Services and control of the Medical City, one of the Philippines’ premiere medical institutions, where a set of shareholders claimed that such acquisitions were acquired through fraudulent means. This is one of the most well-publicised and anticipated corporate battles in the country.

The firm is representing the key officers of Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) in a criminal case for money laundering involving an unprecedented and sophisticated cross-border cyberheist allegedly perpetrated by North Korean hackers, which involved the remittance of $101 million from the Bangladesh Bank’s account in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to accounts in Sri Lanka and RCBC. The outcome of this case is precedent-setting because it has charted the course of defences that can validly be raised by banks and their officers against money laundering allegations, and clearly shows how anti-money laundering standards develop in the region.

In another case highlight, the firm is representing the majority of a consortium of major local banks in the rehabilitation proceedings of the shipbuilding firm Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines before the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City. The matter marks the largest financial default in Philippine history involving claims of more than $1.5 billion.

On the IP front, the firm’s IP team is acting as the lead external counsel for Petron’s LPG Trade brand protection program, prosecuting several criminal cases for trademark infringement, unfair competition and illegal refilling against the country’s three biggest illegal re-fillers of LPG cylinders.

In January 2021, the firm promoted Karla Regina Valera-Chua and Rashel Ann Promoy to partners.

The firm counts esteemed companies as litigation clients: BDO Unibank, F&CO Co, Philippine Association of Steelformers, Philippine Investment One and Tagum Resources Agri Industries.

Client feedback

“The firm excels in all aspects of its services, and it shows respect and courtesy to the clients.” – Commercial and transactions