Senior founding partner, establishing the boutique litigation firm Vial Larrain Abogados in 2017. With ample experience as a litigator before the Supreme Court, appellate courts throughout the country, and ordinary civil courts, he is also a renowned expert in the handling of foreign and domestic arbitration.
Partner, litigation and arbitration group, Morales & Besa (2013-2016)
Partner, litigation and arbitration group, Urenda, Rencoret, Orrego & Dörr (2016-2013)
Foreign Associate, Sidley & Austin LLP (New York, 1998)
Associate, litigation and arbitration group, Claro y Cia. (1989-1996)
Recommended by Chambers & Partners, Legal 500, and Best Lawyers
“Acknowledged for his deep understanding of US law, regularly serving as an expert in cases that require it, as well as representing clients on these matters.” (Chambers and Partners)
“Highly prepared and capable in the questioning of witnesses and third parties; he makes sure that the case at hand achieves favorable results.” (Chambers and Partners)
“His practices focuses on civil and commercial litigation, as well as on arbitral mandates. He frequently handles disputes that have risen in mining, energy, water projects, while also offering specialized expertise in insolvency hearings.” (Chambers and Partners)
James Hardie Fiber Cement Antitrust Litigation: Successfully represented the Chilean producer “Producción Química y Metalúrgica” (QUIMEL) in a predatory pricing suit; subsequently, in a suit seeking civil damages against the aforementioned Australian fiber cement company, before the Chilean Antitrust Court (TDLC), and subsequently before the Chilean Supreme Court and the Ordinary Civil Courts, in what turned out to be the first time the Supreme Court revoked a TDLC ruling. The Australian company was sentenced to pay fines and damages ranging in the USD millions in favor of Quimel, and of other national producers, for predatory practices established in said process, which lasted 8 years in total.
Dominos Pizza International Inc. ICC Arbitration: Successfully represented the American pizza franchise chain Dominos Pizza International Inc. (Dominos) in arbitration proceedings before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The case involved a multi-million dollar dispute that had the purpose of terminating a franchise agreement between the aforementioned American party and a local operator, seeking damages for harm caused by said company. This was one of the very first disputes where litigation was carried out under the recently enacted Chilean International Arbitration Law; the ruling was upheld by the Santiago Court of Appeals. In the end, Dominos prevailed completely in the dispute.
Yamana Gold Inc., “El Peñón” Litigation: Successfully represented this Canadian gold mining company in litigation initiated by American Cates LLP, for the collection of an alleged royalty (Net Smelter Return), on the production of “El Peñón”, Chile’s largest gold mine. The alleged rights were appraised at a sum of USD 54 million. The conflict implied several civil trials, one insolvency proceeding, and a recourse before the Constitutional Tribunal, on the constitutional protection of a property right upon the Canadian company’s mining properties. This latter recourse allowed an advantageous settlement that put an end this long lastring dispute.
Grupo Empresas Transoceanica – Hanga Roa Hotel (Easter Island) Litigation: Successfully represented the Hotel Hanga Roa, in Easter Island, which is the property of Transoceánica (a Schiess family holding), in a complex conflict which arose as a result of the native residents of the island occupying the Hotel, and a suit invoking potential ancestral rights upon the place of occupation. The conflict transcended the occupation of the Hotel, becoming a symbol for an island political movement. The case was heard in civil and criminal courts for over 8 months; finally, after a series of judicial victories, eviction was achieved by virtue of a settlement between the parties, in which the Chilean Government served as mediator.
Abengoa, Cerro Dominador Thermo Solar Plant dispute: Successfully represented the English investment company EIG Global Energy Partners, amidst several breaches of EPC contracts on the part of the Spanish company Abengoa, which was declared to be insolvent in Spain, placing the conclusion of the first thermal solar plant to be built in Chile, in Sierra Gorda, northern Chile, at risk (Cerro Dominador Project). The cost of the project is USD 1.2 billion. The English company prevailed and took control of the thermos solar project.
“Argentine Gas Crisis” arbitration: Successfully represented Dow Chemical, the American chemical company, in arbitration initiated by the Spanish electricity generation company (Iberdrola España), seeking payment of alleged damanges (USD 14 million), incurred as a result of an existing electrical supply agreement between the parties, all of the foregoing as a result of the so called “Argentine Gas Crisis” which increased power prices in Chile. Arbitration ruled in favor of Dow Chemical.
SQM, “Nueva Victoria Plant” Arbitration: Successfully represented one of the leading nitrate, iodine and lithium producers in the world, in arbitration initiated by Mariner against said mining company, due to a dispute regarding the expansion of SQM´s “Nueva Victoria Plant”. The arbitral was completely dismissed by the arbitrator.
BHP Billiton, Escondida Water Supply Plant (EWSP) conflict: successfully represented CRTS (Aegion Corporation) in a conflict with Bechtel (contractor), for the construction of a 160 KM. water pipeline, which is a key part of the EWSP project (total value of the project is USD 3.1 billion), and which will supply water for the Escondida Mine, which is property of BHP Billiton. The total amount of the dispute reached USD 57 million and was amicably resolved after a year of dispute and finally mediation.
DIJON, Post M&A arbitration: Successfully represented ABCDIN, a large retail company, in arbitration (post M&A), which gave rise to the former’s purchase of ¨Dijon¨, another well-known Chilean retail company; and the differences which arose between parties in relation to certain representations and guarantees.
“Forensic Expert and Criminal Investigator” careers litigation: Successfully represented, nationwide, Universidad Santo Tomás, in a series of class actions and civil suits brought throughout the country before civil courts by students alleging false advertising in the offering of the said careers. Only in Santiago, damages sought were over USD 19.6 million. The University was fully acquitted.
Briggs–Fanaloza Post M&A arbitration: Successfully represented the owners of this trans-national utilities manufacturer (with operations in the US, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela) in a conflict that arose from certain representations and guarantees (post M&A) against one of the parties, Cementos Bio Bio (CBB). The purchase involved assets worth more than USD 30 million. The case was finally settled during arbitration.
Pescanova España Cross Border Insolvency Proceedings: Successfully represented the Trustee and the creditors of the Chilean subsidiary of the Spanish company Pescanova, which declared bankruptcy in Spain. The advice included the defense of the Chilean branch in bankruptcy, and of its affiliates Acuinova and Nova Austral, in various insolvency and civil proceedings. In the end, all of the bankrupt company’s assets were successfully liquidated.
Puyehue National Park Litigation: successfully represented businessman Mr. Julio Ponce Lerou in a dispute before the civil courts, with the Ministry of Public Lands, the Treasury, and the State Defense Counsel, given the latter parties´ claim to attach thousands of hectares of land belonging to Mr. Ponce to the Puyehue National Park, which lies immediately next to Mr. Ponce´s land. The Supreme Court totally dismissed the State´s claims.
First Major Reorganization under the new Insolvency Law (La Araucana C.C.A.F.): Successfully represented the bank creditors and bondholders in the first large reorganization process pursuant to the new insolvency law. A unanimous agreement was achieved in the respective hearing, with a value of over USD 600 million, avoiding liquidation against the debtor. This was the first judicial reorganization case of a company with bonds issued in the market, under the new Reorganization and Liquidation of Companies and Private Persons Law.
- Universidad Catolica de Chile School of Law (1993)
- Master of Law (LLM), The University of Michigan – Ann Arbor (1998)
Awards and Scholarships
- Fulbright Scholar (1997)
- “President of the Republic” (Chile) Scholar (MIDEPLAN) (1997)
- “Academic Vice-rectory of the Universidad Catolica de Chile” Scholarship (1997)
- “Outstanding Professor” Award, Universidad Catolica de Chile (2006)
- Professor of Civil Procedure, Universidad Católica de Chile (1997 – present)
- Appointed by the Chilean Government to the Commission for the drafting of a new “Chilean Civil Procedure Code” (2004-2009).
- Cowriter of the first “Chilean Civil Procedure Code Project”, presented to the Chilean House of Representatives in 2009.
- Invited to report about the new “Chilean Civil Procedure Code”, before the “Constitution, Legislation and Justice Commission” of the Chilean House of Representatives (2011).
- Permanent Member of the “Constitution, Legislation and Justice Commission” of the Chilean Senate, for the revision of the new “Chilean Civil Procedure Code” (2013).
- Permanent speaker in various seminars and panels on matters related to civil procedure and arbitration.
- “The taking of Evidence Abroad; A Comparative Analysis between the United States and Chile” (1998) (Thesis for the University of Michigan LLM degree, USA)
- “Imprisonment in the New Chilean Criminal Procedure” (2001) (Chilean Law Review)
- “The Role of the Supreme Court” (2002) (Chilean Law Review)
- “Commercial Justice Reform: A Comparative Analysis from the Standpoint of North American Law” (2006) (Ediciones Instituto Libertad y Desarrollo)
Spanish and English