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Winston & Strawn disputes heavyweight joins Garrigues to launch City arbitration team

Garrigues has hired its first English-qualified partner in the City with the arrival of Winston & Strawn‘s co-head of international arbitration, Joe Tirado, to launch its practice in London.

The move sees Tirado become co-head of international arbitration as the firm seeks to provide a London hub for disputes in Latin America, where international arbitration has become commonplace following a series of investor-state disputes stemming from the nationalization of energy assets across the continent in the 1990s. Tirado will join Garrigues’ sole partner in the London office, corporate lawyer Ignacio Corbera. 

Garrigues, which is regarded as one of Spain’s leading law firms alongside Uría Menéndez, has 20 offices across that country but is lightweight in the rest of Europe. Tirado, who was head of international arbitration at Norton Rose before joining Winston & Strawn in 2012, arrives as part of a wider play for Latin American disputes. Garrigues has five offices across Latin America, adding Chile to its network spanning Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Brazil earlier this month through the addition of local firm Avendaño Merino.

A Spanish speaker, Tirado’s practice is largely centred on Latin American disputes and provides a City bridge to Garrigues’ expansion with a huge number of corporate contracts referring disputes to the London Court of International Arbitration. Tirado, a solicitor-advocate with full rights of audience before all English civil courts, will lead the international arbitration practice alongside Madrid-based Carlos de los Santos.

‘I have been impressed by how the firm’s international arbitration has developed, its culture and its plans for future global growth,’ said Tirado.

Santos added: ‘As a highly experienced practitioner and a fluent Spanish speaker, Joe bridges the cultural divide between the common law and civil law traditions perfectly.’

Tirado left Winston & Strawn at the end of January after the firm shifted its attention away from disputes as it sought to build a credible corporate practice, which resulted in the raid of an 11-partner team from US rival Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman at the start of last year. It proved something of a strategy reversal for Winston, which hired Tirado shortly after the high profile arrival of Ashurst’s former disputes managing partner Michael Madden with the firm shutting its arbitration-focused Geneva office last September.