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 2019.
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 third year in a row, VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne is the only firm ranked in Band 1. Despite the notable departures of Steward and Besançon, VanEps remains well represented in terms of ranked individuals, this year gaining the “very effective and hands-on” disputes lawyer Rogier van den Heuvel in Band 3. 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 two out of the sixteen ranked individual lawyers, like last year.
This year Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg also has two of the sixteen recommended individual lawyers.
And with the special mention of Maike Bergervoet as upcoming individual, Spigt Dutch Caribbean this year also has two of the sixteen recommended individuals.
In alphabetical order within each band, these are the ranked firms in the category of General Business Law: Dutch Caribbean:
VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne
Spigt Dutch Caribbean
OX & WOLF
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, with the launch of the 2019 edition, an exclusively Aruba-based firm is featured in the ranking table for the first time. This is the well-established five-person practice Brown Lawyers. 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.”
Another new entrant to the ranking table is the firm OX & WOLF In a profession still largely dominated by men, OX & WOLF is noteworthy for the fact that all five of its partners are women. Interviewees regard the team as an increasingly dominant force in the market, singling out the “very smart” Sabine Altena (Band 2) as a leading authority for investment fund launches in particular. The firm overall offers expertise in everything from intellectual property to insurance and shipping.
With partners who honed their profession in the Dutch Caribbean’s more established players, OX & WOLF is also part of a trend towards smaller, more bespoke practices. In 2017, Mirto Murray (Band 3) set up Murray Attorneys after a number of years at another firm. In 2018, it was the turn of Kamla Besançon. Formerly based in the Sint Maarten office of VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne, Besançon continues to advise on M&A and securities matters from her new practice, KB Legal.
Law firm Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg has a new partner since the end of 2018: Molly Steward, former VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne. Steward continues to be one of the Dutch Caribbean’s leading employment lawyers and interviewees value the “very concise advice” she provides.
See below for a full overview of recommended individuals, in alphabetical order within each band:
Randolph van Eps (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne)
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)
Sabine Altena (OX & WOLF)
Chris de Bres (HBN Law)
Patrick Brown (Brown advocaten)
Michiel Gorsira (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne)
Thomas Aardenburg (Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg)
Kamla Besançon (KB Legal)
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)
Maike Bergervoet (Spigt Dutch Caribbean)
There is a special mention for Foreign Desks General Business Law for law firm VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne:
Based in Dutch Caribbean
with expertise in countries listed below
Suriname VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne
Foreign Desks General Business Law
Dutch Caribbean expertise
based in countries listed below
Foreign Experts (Based Abroad)
General Business Law
Dutch Caribbean expertise
based in countries listed below
Netherlands Rumora-Scheltema Barbara – NautaDutilh
USA Sprenger Helena – Houthoff
USA van Schilfgaarde Elizabeth – NautaDutilh
On VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne Chambers says the firm ” provides its clients – regional and international – with practical and cost-efficient solutions that cater their specific challenges and ambitions. The firm’s lawyers are known to tangibly contribute to clients’ objectives, by breaking down complex issues to the very core.
The 35 attorneys of VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne work together as one team throughout the offices in Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, St. Maarten and the Dutch Caribbean Desk in Amsterdam. The firm serves Saba, St. Eustatius and Suriname as well via its ‘Flying Lawyers’ concept.”
On HBN Law Chambers says: “This respected law firm has an impressive footprint throughout the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with offices in Aruba, Bonaire and Sint Maarten as well as Curaçao and Amsterdam. It is especially noted for the high quality of its litigation team and has a strong track record at all levels of the court system. Fellow practitioners add that HBN Law has “some very good corporate and finance lawyers” who are frequently instructed on high-value transactional work.”
Spigt Dutch Caribbean is described as “highly respected for its long-standing experience in corporate law. Finance is a particular strength for the firm, with its lawyers having handled the financing arrangements for major retail acquisitions and hotel developments. The firm also has extensive expertise in tax and commercial litigation. Fellow practitioners agree that “they are a good firm.””
About Brown Lawyers: “This compact practice is one of the leading firms on the island of Aruba. It possesses wide-ranging expertise in such fields as intellectual property, labour and employment and administrative law. It is also well versed in M&A, financing and company formation, as well as litigation.”
OX & WOLF: “This growing, dynamic practice has quickly become a force to be reckoned with. Operating from Curaçao, the team advises on the full range of transactional and litigious matters throughout the Dutch Caribbean, and has specific expertise in shipping, insurance, employment and intellectual property. The firm’s partners previously practised at other leading firms in the Netherlands and the Dutch Caribbean.”
On Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg the comments are: “This firm has a broad offering in the Dutch Caribbean, with offices in Curaçao, Bonaire and Sint Maarten. The team covers the full spectrum of corporate law, including specialist expertise in matters such as real estate, intellectual property and energy law. It is the Dutch Caribbean member of law firm network Globalaw.”
Reviews on recommended individuals
Randolph van Eps (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne) is “a general commercial lawyer with an emphasis on corporate law and corporate litigation. He mostly advises (semi) governmental bodies and companies in the energy, telecommunications and technology sectors. He assists supervisory boards both in disputes and in strategic issues, and has assisted in numerous mergers and acquisitions. Randolph heads the Suriname Desk of VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne. Furthermore, he was a part-time lecturer in international private law at the University of Curaçao (UoC). To conclude, he was Dean of the Curacao Bar Association.”
Karel Frielink (BZSE Attorneys at Law) “is held in high regard for litigation and continues to be viewed by his contemporaries as one of the leading lawyers in the Dutch Caribbean. Commentators state that he is “very knowledgeable in respect of corporate law,” and a “good litigator” who is “doing excellent cases.” He is also noted for his expertise in private client work and is a full member of the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners.”
Frank B M Kunneman (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne) “is an expert in the field of corporate law. He mainly advises (financial) institutions, government(al bodies) and public legal entities. He is an authority in the field of corporate governance, and assists shareholders, supervisory boards and supervisory directors in advisory and litigious matters. Frank is an experienced director and supervisory director of various companies and institutions. In addition, Frank is (part-time) professor civil law and corporate governance at the University of Curaçao (UoC) and was a senior lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. He regularly publishes and provides keynote speeches, lectures and workshops on corporate governance.Focco W Lunsingh Scheurleer (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne)”
Focco Lunsingh Scheurleer (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne) “has over twenty years of experience as an attorney, advising on a broad spectrum of matters in banking, finance and corporate law, assisting both lenders and investors. He has assisted clients in numerous loan and credit facilities to local borrowers as well as international borrowers, either structured as syndicated loan facilities or as capital market transactions. Focco advises financial institutions on regulatory matters. Furthermore, he advises clients on corporate law in the widest sense, including corporate restructuring. Focco is the managing partner of VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne.”
Eric de Vries (HBN Law) is “the managing partner of HBN and continues to enjoy an outstanding reputation. His work spans litigation and corporate advisory matters. Peers agree that he is an “excellent lawyer” and “very sought after” by leading corporate clients. Commentators add that he is “definitely tier one.””
Martijn Welten (Spigt Dutch Caribbean) “elicits high praise from interviewees, who consider him to be critical to the fortunes of his firm, adding: “He is still doing well.” His wide-ranging practice covers both disputes and transactional work. He has experience assisting clients with multi-jurisdictional insolvency matters as well as the acquisition of private banking portfolios.”
Sabine Altena (OX & WOLF) “advises on an array of matters, including M&A, financing and investment management. Sources also cite her as a “really good” choice to handle hedge fund work and a “very smart” lawyer.”
Chris de Bres (HBN Law) is “one of the go-to litigators for every case of importance.” Other interviewees describe him as a “smart guy” and “very good lawyer.” He has an impressive international client roster, which includes financial services and energy companies.”
Patrick Brown (Brown advocaten) is “described by his peers as “a great all-rounder” and “very good attorney” who is “a market leader in Aruba.” Interviewees also state that he is one of the most experienced lawyers in the market and are particularly impressed by his abilities in litigation. He also handles non-contentious matters.”
Michiel Gorsira (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne) is “a well-established expert in restructuring and insolvency. Sources enthuse that he is a very strong lawyer who is also pleasant to work with.”
Thomas Aardenburg (Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg): “Sources particularly note managing partner Thomas Aardenburg for his assured handling of construction litigation cases. His litigation expertise also encompasses shareholder disputes and financial services matters.”
Kamla Besançon (KB Legal) left VanEps in summer 2018 to found her own practice, KB Legal. “She is acknowledged for her focus on M&A transactions and is very experienced in this field.”
Rogier van den Heuvel (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne) has 15 years of experience in business and commercial litigation. “He is one of the driving forces of our corporate litigation practice and competition law practice. Rogier represents clients in shareholders’ disputes, M&A disputes and international trade conflicts. He represents clients in court and in arbitrations. Rogier is admitted to the bars of the Dutch Caribbean and the Netherlands. He is the dean of the Curacao Bar Association and the court appointed trustee in the consortium of payments of the international airline InselAir.”
Mirto Murray (Murray Attorneys at Law) founded Murray Attorneys at Law in 2017. “He has a strong reputation in the Dutch Caribbean, with sources remarking that he has had great success attracting major clients to his new practice.”
Commentators regard Aruba-based Johan Paul Sjiem Fat (Sjiem Fat & Co) as “a very smart man.” “He is particularly known for his expertise in government-related work but is also well equipped to assist with commercial and tax issues.”
Molly Steward (Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg) is “one of the leading employment lawyers in the Dutch Caribbean, with a client list that features insurance companies and major hospitality groups. Fellow lawyers comment that “she is one of the best in her field,” while clients praise her “very clear and very concise advice.” She joined Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg after leaving VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne at the end of 2018.”
Maike Bergervoet (Spigt Dutch Caribbean) is recognised as a rising force in the corporate law market of the Dutch Caribbean. She has a particular focus on finance and asset protection. Peers indicate that “she is one to watch in the next few years.”””
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.