LITIGATION & ARBITRATION
Patton, Moreno & Asvat litigation experience dates back to admiralty cases tried before the former Federal Maritime Courts of the Panama Canal Zone. In its beginnings, the firm’s litigation practice was essentially focused on maritime matters, which allowed the firm to establish itself as one of the top Panamanian maritime litigation firms.
The firm has since evolved from an admiralty focused practice, to a comprehensive, general litigation and arbitration practice, including civil, commercial, administrative, constitutional, criminal, and regulatory litigation. Patton, Moreno & Asvat regularly represents clients in sensitive, complex cases, and has managed to establish itself as a relevant player in the field.
Patton, Moreno & Asvat boasts a multi-disciplinary team of lawyers from different fields and backgrounds, including former members of the public and private sector, certified arbitrators, constitutional and regulatory experts.
The team includes fully bilingual, English speaking lawyers, with studies in top U.S. and European universities; some of its members are admitted to practice in foreign jurisdictions such as the State of New York.
The team has ample experience in cross border litigation and international arbitration, and dealing with international firms and clients. The team is used to catering and delivering to the fast paced, multiple-time zone influenced requirements of its clients.
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The possibility of a conflict arising is always implied in relationships between individuals and/or entities, which can be solved judicially and/or extra judicially.
Our country’s justice administration is divided into branches covering the diverse areas of the law, the commercial and civil branches being relevant focus of our litigation practice
The commercial and civil claims are filed before Courts of Justice, divided according to the classifications contained in our Judicial Code, according to rules of jurisdiction and competence.
In Patton, Moreno & Asvat, we offer legal assistance and representation before all the instances in which civil and commercial proceedings take place, including the different Courts of Justice, Municipal Courts, Circuit Courts, and the Supreme Court of Justice.
Our services include debts collections, claims for damages, in an extrajudicial phase or claims before our Ordinary Justice Courts, either as plainttif’s or defendant’s counsel.
The constant commercial exchange at the national and international level has led, for the sake of maintaining the dynamism of the economic activity, to the development and incorporation into our legal system, of effective and expeditious mechanisms for the resolution of conflicts.
The Republic of Panama, being an eminently commercial country and following the international tendencies, has updated its arbitration legislation by means of Law No. 131 of 31 December 2013, which now governs arbitration in Panama, and incorporates modern international arbitration practices and principles. Panama counts with dispute resolution centers highly renowned by the business community, of which the Center of Conciliation and Arbitration of Panama, located in the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama, and of the Center of Conflict resolution, located in the Panamanian Construction Chamber, stand out. It should also be noted that the International Chamber of Commerce (“ICC”) has a Panamanian Chapter which is very active in the promotion of arbitration as a dispute resolution mechanism in Panama.
The arbitration process like all other alternative means of conflict resolution, is directed, to offer a faster and specialized alternative to the ordinary justice system, which at the same time helps to maintain the possibility of the parties reaching a resolution to their dispute, through mechanisms such as mediation.
Patton, Moreno & Asvat’s team includes specialists in domestic and International arbitration, including arbitrators and practitioners of renowned experience.
Patton, Moreno & Asvat’s services essentially include:
- Requesting interim and injunctive relief
- Legal assistance in the analysis, preparing and filing of arbitration proceedings and representation in all stages.
- Special writ to set aside the arbitral award.
- Enforcement of arbitration awards.
The Maritime Courts of the Republic of Panama play an important role in the worldwide maritime sector mainly because of the transit of vessels through the Panama Canal and the constant flow of cargo between the Ports of Balboa, in the Pacific, and Cristobal, in the Atlantic.
Patton, Moreno & Asvat is a leader in the field, representing clients of the sector from around the globe.
Arrest of vessels.
The arrest of vessels is regulated by the revised text of Law No. 8 1982 as amended, also known as the Maritime Procedure Code.
Panamanian laws offer certain advantages regarding claims that arise from commercial maritime acts since they may be addressed in the Panamanian Maritime Courts. Normally, claims are initiated by the arrest of a vessel that will be transiting, or is in transit through the Panama Canal. A vessel takes approximately eight (8) hours to transit the Panama Canal and there is no possibility to turn the vessel around once the transit begins.
Due to its mobile character, a vessel may distance itself from its creditors and other claimants before they have the opportunity to initiate a procedure against it, or before they have the opportunity to obtain an arrest order of the vessel, leaving these claimants and creditors without an effective method to collect their claims. Due to vessel arrest procedures in foreign jurisdictions, these creditors and claimants may satisfy their claims in Courts of countries where the vessel takes berth, according to their activities.
Panama shares the arrest procedure with the majority of the maritime nations.
We would like to emphasize that Panama’s Maritime Jurisdiction is separated from the Civil Jurisdiction and that the rules of procedure have been adopted for the purpose of establishing a fast and flexible action different from the civil litigation procedure.
In Panama, a vessel arrest may proceed under three (3) circumstances, which are:
- Arrest of a vessel to obtain a payment guarantee for the purpose of preventing the owner from selling the vessel and leaving the creditors without assets from which to recover.
- To obtain jurisdiction over owners of vessels sailing through the Panama Canal or in Panamanian territorial waters;
- To execute privileged maritime liens over the vessel.
It is clear then that the arrest may proceed through an action “in personam” against the ship-owner or an action “in rem” against the vessel.
The choice by the creditor insofar as to what procedure to employ depends on the nature of the claim.
As a general rule, the plaintiff may always resort to the use of an action “in personam” with an auxiliary petition for an arrest order against a vessel property of the defendant.
Actions "in rem" against the vessel with an arrest petition will only be available in those cases where the applicable law recognizes a privileged maritime lien against the vessel, or when there is an action “in rem” against the vessel.
The services offered by Patton, Moreno & Asvat include:
- Cargo Claims
- Ship Arrest
- Insurance Claims
- Claims for privileged maritime liens
- Claims for damages or loss of vessel
- Claims related to charter parties
- Claims for services rendered to the vessel