Firm Profile

BUFETE BERROCAL is an organization integrated by qualified attorneys determined to provide a personalized, efficient and high-quality service to its clients.

The firm is based in Panama City, Republic of Panama, with offices in Beirut, Lebanon[1] and important correspondent offices all throughout the world.

Our principal offices are located on Plaza Centro Building (Suite 8), Ricardo J. Alfaro Avenue and Friendship Road (El Dorado), Panama, Republic of Panama, P.O. Box 87-1664, Panama 7, Republic of Panama, Tel (507) 260-1097, Fax (507) 260-1098, berrocal@berrocal.com.pa, www.berrocal.com.pa

Our firm specializes in the offshore service business through the creation, organization and administration of corporations, foundations of private interest, trusts and estates in various jurisdictions, most of which are organized in Panama, The British Virgin Islands, Lebanon, The Bahamas, Aruba, Antigua & Barbuda, Belize and Paragüay. Our legal practice is emphasized and strongly oriented to create and offer solutions, alternatives, financial and fiscal strategies and planning on behalf of high net-worth individuals and families, such as:

  • Comprehensive capital, estate and asset management and planning at short, medium and long terms, through the use of offshore corporations, private foundations and/or trusts in Panama, Lebanon, the Caribbean and Europe, designed to control real estate property and other assets and reduce transfer taxes over several generations.
  • Structuring of privately or family held businesses to reduce the risk of potential liabilities of family business interests, secure future control of assets within the family and at the same time, reduce transfer taxes as well.
  • Planning designed to provide continued and independent existence and liquidity of an estate, after a principal owner’s disability or death, to support surviving spouse and/or family members, mitigate estate taxes over property and facilitate or avoid unnecessary probate.
  • Planning designed to provide an effective family asset management and/or estate distribution vehicle during the lifetime (“inter- vivos”) and/or after the death (“post-mortem”) of principal, through the creation and organization of family held private foundations and trusts benefiting both family members or charity.

The rest of our practice encompasses a wide variety of domestic and international legal areas, including corporate, banking, maritime, industrial property, real estate, personal representation, general litigation and pro-bono work.

Corporate

The most significant portion of our practice and international legal services entail the assistance to local and international clients in the organization of corporations inside and outside the Republic of Panama, Lebanon, all throughout the Caribbean and Europe. As a result, we entertain numerous consultations associated with the operation of different corporations from different jurisdictions, operating both inside the Republic of Panama and abroad.

Locally, the firm also serves as counsel to a number of corporate clients involving public and private securities offerings, including the design of fiscal strategies and compliance with regulatory and transactional matters involving all kinds of securities required by the Securities Act of Panama (Law Decree No. 1 of July 8, 1999) and also, in connection with reporting and filings before the National Securities Commission of Panama in private placements and public securities offerings.

Another portion of our corporate practice includes counseling to our local corporate clients in all kinds of commercial transactions, the preparation of a variety of commercial contracts, public and private agreements and compliance with industrial and trade regulations.

In addition, our services in the corporate sector also include counseling to various domestic airlines (passenger and cargo) in a number of situations, including aviation regulations, aircraft security, aircraft acquisition and leasing, air transportation contracts, route rights and commercial requirements.

 

Real Estate

Our services in this area have always represented a substantial portion of our practice and involves counseling on a variety of real estate-related transactions, such as land use and zoning, land acquisitions and development, construction, financing and leasing of all kinds of real estate properties, from open land and farms, commercial and residential projects and condominiums (office and residence) to shopping centers. This includes the preparation and registration of options to buy, purchase agreements, mortgages and condominium by-laws as well as compliance with construction and condominium regulations, counseling on real estate property taxes and the application of real estate financing techniques.

 

Banking

Our firm is capable of offering a variety of services in the banking area, including the preparation of all kinds of banking contracts, counseling in domestic and international financial transactions, constitution of trust funds, compliance with banking regulations and inter-bank agreements and the organization and establishment of foreign and domestic banks operating under General, International and/or Representation licenses.

 

Maritime

Helping our clients to obtain the registration of a flag of convenience for their vessels in the Republic of Panama and other convenient jurisdictions is an important aspect of our offshore services. Our Maritime Law practice is rapidly growing as a result of the incentives and positive new world policies of the DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF CONSULAR AND SHIPPING AFFAIRS of the Republic of Panama towards the ever increasing Panamanian Merchant Marine Fleet, extending from the registration of vessels in the Republic of Panama and other convenient jurisdictions on behalf of international and domestic ship?owners, including the preparation, registration and cancellation of ship mortgages to litigation before the Maritime Courts of Panama in connection to maritime claims, liens and contracts.

 

Industrial Property

We maintain a very active practice in the registration of trade and service marks, patents and copyrights on behalf of domestic and foreign manufacturers and authors, before the Ministry of Commerce and Industries of the Republic of Panama, and all throughout Central and South America. As a result, we often engage in litigation defending marks, patents and copyrights and unfair competition infringements on behalf of our clients. Our work also involves counseling on licensing and/or transfer or acquisition of trade and service marks, patents and copyrights, computer software, high technology developments and other intellectual property rights.

 

Labor

Our labor specialist has a vast experience in a wide variety of labor-related controversies, from the obtention of work permits, preparation of labor contracts, internal corporate labor by-laws and negotiation of collective agreements and claims before the labor administrative authorities to ordinary lawsuits, appellate work and extraordinary recourses before the Supreme Court of Justice. Most of our everyday work involves permanent counseling to employers, most of which are our corporate clients, in different aspects, situations and controversies arising between them and their employees and unions. The intricacies of Panama’s labor legislation has contributed to make this subject a specialized field of special attention within our firm.

 

Personal Representation

Personal representation is an important aspect of our practice, which is, as previously mentioned, emphasized and strongly oriented to create and offer solutions, alternatives, financial and fiscal strategies and planning on behalf of high net-worth individuals and families. Some of our services include:

Comprehensive capital, estate and asset management and planning at short, medium and long terms, through the use of offshore corporations, private foundations and/or trusts in Panama, Lebanon, the Caribbean and Europe, designed to control real estate property and other assets and reduce transfer taxes over several generations.

Structuring of privately or family held businesses to reduce the risk of potential liabilities of family business interests, secure future control of assets within the family and at the same time, reduce transfer taxes as well.

Planning designed to provide continued and independent existence and liquidity of an estate, after a principal owner’s disability or death, to support surviving spouse and/or family members, mitigate estate taxes over property and facilitate or avoid unnecessary probate.

Planning designed to provide an effective family asset management and/or estate distribution vehicle during the lifetime (“inter- vivos”) and/or after the death (“post-mortem”) of principal, through the creation and organization of family held private foundations and trusts benefiting both family members or charity.

Other aspects of our practice representing individuals is dedicated to counseling and helping clients in family law matters, including pre-nuptial agreements, divorces, custody, adoptions, wills and probate proceedings.

Another good portion of our practice in this area is dedicated to the securing of resident and immigrant visas and naturalizations on behalf of foreign executives of our corporate clients, foreign investors, retired individuals, scientists, religious workers, artists and athletes, as well as counseling in compliance with immigration and tax regulations.

 

Litigation

Although we believe the first duty of a responsible litigator is to accomplish a client’s needs without resorting to litigation, we are proud to say that our small but efficient and reliable litigation department is very active and enjoys a very high degree of success. Originally created to judicially support and assist most our corporate clients against civil claims as a consequence of their business activities, it is rapidly shifting from a traditionally defensive to a more active and challenging roll, accepting to defend the interests of other corporations and individuals with just and worthy claims. Thus, the attorneys in the firm are experienced in a variety of corporate, commercial, banking, contract, maritime, industrial property (trademarks, patents and copyrights), unfair competition, civil and family law litigation. Our work involves trial practice in municipal, circuit and superior courts, as well as the Supreme Court of Justice.

 

Pro-Bono Activities

The attorneys at BUFETE BERROCAL have always found the time and effort to dedicate their knowledge and experience in helping and assisting a good number of non-profit private organizations, most of which were conceived and created by the firm as a result of the very active participation of its members in charitable and socio-economic activities within the community. Our dedication and work donation on behalf of these organizations is unconditional and with no time limits. The Rotary Club of Panama, The Gift of Life Foundation, The Good Will Foundation, Sun Rays Home Foundation, The National Association for the Conservation of Nature (ANCON), The Latin-American Group for Professional Rehabilitation (GLARP), The Home Shelter Foundation, The Pro-Children of Panama Foundation, are among the most significant organizations that the firm represents and which maintain an open line and unlimited access to our firm.

 

ATTORNEYS’ BIOGRAPHIES

Partners

 

MANUEL JOSE BERROCAL FABREGA, born in Panama, Republic of Panama, September 21, 1932; admitted to practice law in 1958, Republic of Panama. EDUCATION: UNIVERSITY OF MADRID SCHOOL OF LAW, Madrid, Spain (Law Degree, 1957). OTHER EXPERIENCE: President, PANAMA REAL ESTATE OWNERS ASSOCIATION, Panama, Republic of Panama, 1981-1983; Minister, MINISTRY OF THE TREASURY, Panama, Republic of Panama, 1993-1994. MEMBER: Panamanian Bar Association; The Panama Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture; Panama Real Estate Owners Association; Panama Business Executives Association; Rotary Club of Panama; Association of the United States Army (AUSA). LANGUAGES: Spanish and English.

 

MANUEL JOSE BERROCAL BROSTELLA, born in Panama, Republic of Panama, February 27, 1961; admitted to practice law in 1984, Republic of Panama. EDUCATION: SANTA MARIA LA ANTIGUA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW, Panama, Republic of Panama (Law Degree, 1984); NEW YORK UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW, New York, N.Y. (LL.M. in Comparative Jurisprudence, LL.M., 1985); UNIVERSITY OF BARCELONA SCHOOL OF LAW, Barcelona, Spain (Doctorate Courses in Commercial Law, 1986-1997). AUTHOR: “Disolución y Liquidación de Sociedades Anónimas” (Winding-up of Corporations), Thesis, 1984; Private Investment In Panama: a scheme of the benefits, New York, N.Y., 1984; Reorganization As A Shield Against Massive Tort Liability: a misuse, Graduation Paper, New York, N.Y., 1985. OTHER EXPERIENCE: Students’ Representative, SANTA MARIA LA ANTIGUA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW FACULTY BOARD, Panama, Republic of Panama, 1981-1983; Legal Counsel, THE PANAMA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, INDUSTRIES AND AGRICULTURE, Panama, Republic of Panama, 1987. MEMBER: Panamanian Bar Association; American Bar Association; Inter-American Bar Association; International Association of Lawyers (UIA); International Association of Young Lawyers (AIJA); The Panama Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture; Rotary Club of Panama; The Gift of Life Foundation; Association of the United States Army (AUSA). LANGUAGES: Spanish and English.