International Recognition - M. Hamel-Smith & Co.
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International Recognition

Our lawyers and staff work diligently every day to help our clients succeed.  In the course of this work, we have been honoured to receive a number of distinguished awards.  Below is an overview of recent recognition.

Chambers Global 2006 – 2021:  The World’s Leading Lawyers for Business

Hamel-Smith has once again been recognised as a top ranked firm in the newly released 2021 edition of Chambers Global, a guide to the world’s best lawyers and law firms.

Chambers noted that the team balances excellent capabilities in litigation with considerable transactional know-how while commentators pointed out that it is well known for its “high volume of transactional business and large number of experienced attorneys.”

The firm’s clients highly praised its lawyers for their “fast turnaround on documentation” as well as the way that “they repeatedly demonstrate a very insightful and big picture understanding of the issues”.

Seven of the firm’s attorneys were also ranked as leading lawyers.

The Chambers rankings are based on a combination of research and client feedback, with assessments made on technical legal ability, professional conduct, client service, commercial astuteness, diligence and commitment.

Below is an extract of some of the recent reviews and quotes published by Chambers Global.

General Business Law (Band 1 Ranking)

M. Hamel-Smith & Co is well known among commentators for its “high volume of transactional business and large number of experienced attorneys.” It receives high praise from clients, who note the team’s “fast turnaround on documentation,” as well as the way “they repeatedly demonstrate a very insightful and big-picture understanding of the issues.” The team balances excellent capabilities in litigation with considerable transactional know-how. – 2021

This outstanding practice continues to operate at the forefront of the market in Trinidad & Tobago. Sources laud its excellent client service and capacity to handle significant commercial disputes.  Sources say: 

M. Hamel-Smith & Co continues to distinguish itself through its team of “highly competent, dedicated and commercially minded professionals.” The team balances excellent capabilities in litigation with considerable transactional know-how. One source said: “They understand the legal environment and keep us up-to-date on developments taking place in the country. They’re very thorough and provide very clear advice.” Recent highlights include acting for the NCB Financial Group on its USD207 million acquisition of a controlling stake in Guardian Holdings. – 2020

“One of the premier law firms in Trinidad & Tobago,” this full-service practice continues to operate at the forefront of the market. It maintains a strong reputation in both dispute resolution and finance, receiving particular acclaim for its aviation finance expertise. Market sources value the team’s proactive approach, with one client stating: “They are very responsive and the advice is always on-point.” Clients also appreciate that “they give concrete advice we can stand by.”

“You get service from them that you would expect to find in any of the major business centres in the world.” “If I have a very difficult transaction, this team is who I call.”

“This firm works at a very high level’, according to peers, partly due to a large number of senior lawyers at the practice. Clients are similarly positive, calling Hamel-Smith ‘the best corporate finance shop in the Caribbean’.”

This ensemble provides a full commercial service for both foreign and domestic clients. It is widely admired for its expertise in banking and finance and represents numerous international banks as well as domestic merchant banks. It handles the financing of most of the country’s large projects, especially those in the energy and oil and gas sectors, and this is joined by a broader energy practice. The firm is increasingly representing international clients in investment in Trinidadian business start-ups while also working to establish larger and more permanent local presence for such clients. The dispute resolution practice handles major commercial disputes, placing great emphasis on risk management. A market-leading tax department advises foreign and domestic clients on achieving tax-efficient structures. The practice is described by some commentators as “the best in the Caribbean from a technical point of view.” 

The firm’s caseload has featured a broad range of mandates over the past year, including local and cross-border financing transactions, disputes within the construction industry and corporate advisory work for energy companies. One of the major attractions for clients is the firm’s tax litigation expertise. It is also praised for its skills in investment banking matters. Sources say the firm is “very service-oriented and focused – they provide the service that international clients expect to receive from leading international firms.”

“Knowledgeable, responsive, and everything you want in outside counsel,” this firm continues to win rave reviews. One of the major players in Trinidad, it targets energy and foreign direct investment and fields a team of specialists in areas such as tax and risk management. Commentators appreciate that the lawyers “really step into the shoes of the client and try to understand the issues we are trying to address,” and say that the team “acts with absolute discretion, professionalism and at the speed that we require.”

“This firm works at a very high level’, according to peers, partly due to a large number of senior lawyers at the practice. Clients are similarly positive, calling Hamel-Smith ‘the best corporate finance shop in the Caribbean’.”

This ensemble provides a full commercial service for both foreign and domestic clients. It is widely admired for its expertise in banking and finance and represents numerous international banks as well as domestic merchant banks. It handles the financing of most of the country’s large projects, especially those in the energy and oil and gas sectors, and this is joined by a broader energy practice. The firm is increasingly representing international clients in investment in Trinidadian business start-ups while also working to establish larger and more permanent local presence for such clients. The dispute resolution practice handles major commercial disputes, placing great emphasis on risk management. A market-leading tax department advises foreign and domestic clients on achieving tax-efficient structures. The practice is described by some commentators as “the best in the Caribbean from a technical point of view.” 

The firm’s caseload has featured a broad range of mandates over the past year, including local and cross-border financing transactions, disputes within the construction industry and corporate advisory work for energy companies. One of the major attractions for clients is the firm’s tax litigation expertise. It is also praised for its skills in investment banking matters. Sources say the firm is “very service-oriented and focused – they provide the service that international clients expect to receive from leading international firms.”

“Knowledgeable, responsive, and everything you want in outside counsel,” this firm continues to win rave reviews. One of the major players in Trinidad, it targets energy and foreign direct investment and fields a team of specialists in areas such as tax and risk management. Commentators appreciate that the lawyers “really step into the shoes of the client and try to understand the issues we are trying to address,” and say that the team “acts with absolute discretion, professionalism and at the speed that we require.”

The Ranked Attorneys

Nicole Ferreira-Aaron

Clients applaud managing partner Nicole Ferreira-Aaron for providing “cogent advice and counsel,” remarking on her “pragmatic, clear and business-oriented approach.” Noted for her considerable expertise in aviation matters, her broader practice spans a wide variety of financing agreements in addition to M&A transactions and capital markets issuances. She is a noted expert in aviation law, with many years’ experience in acquisitions, aircraft finance and leasing. One source said: “She sees the whole picture; she is able to synthesise information and advise us very quickly.” Interviewees assert that “she can think on her feet and respond quickly to complex issues.” “She has a keen sense of the business and delves into the law, guiding people to get what the client wants,” according to interviewees. One client comments that “It’s virtually impossible to say where you can go wrong with Nicole Ferreira-Aaron’s advice and analysis.” She has an excellent reputation for financing work. She is “very thorough from a technical point of view, yet still, has a very commercial mindset.” She is held in high esteem for her “good knowledge of financial markets.”

Jonathan Walker, Head of Dispute and Risk Management Department at M. Hamel-Smith & Co.

Jonathan Walker

Jonathan Walker heads the Dispute and Risk Management department. He receives multiple plaudits for his work in disputes. He is well versed in High Court litigation and appellate proceedings, with experience covering areas such as contractual disputes, insurance claims and constitutional law proceedings. Sources declare him to be “an outstanding litigator” who is “very technically competent and has a great command of the court.” Further commentators add that he “approaches matters with a very strategic focus and an eye on achieving the best outcome for his client.”

Commentators praise him as “an outstanding, incredibly organised lawyer, and a structured and insightful thinker.” Other sources applaud him for being “extremely knowledgeable and able to think of workable solutions that cover different angles.”

He is said to be “very, very bright, a very hard worker and a very shrewd tactician.”  as well as “incredibly responsive, extremely intelligent and diligent.” Clients indicate that Jonathan is “a very talented practitioner – well researched and well prepared” and that he is “wise beyond his years and is diplomatic in handling sensitive issues.”

Timothy Hamel-Smith

Timothy Hamel-Smith

Timothy Hamel-Smith is one of Trinidad & Tobago’s most experienced transactional lawyers, having overseen a large number of matters in the course of a career that spans close to five decades. His work of late includes advising on the acquisition of non-controlling stakes in notable banking and insurance entities. Sources emphasise his practical, down-to-earth approach, stating: “He gets straight to the point.” He handles an array of work, including takeovers, real estate acquisitions and share purchases, acting for clients in numerous areas, including the financial services sector. His “clear and straightforward commercial perspective delivers results.” He is regarded as “one of the best brains to provide banking and financial services to international institutions.” Timothy is described by clients as “one of the best commercial lawyers around.” He “specializes in project and bank financing, and is also fêted for his work in capital markets.” and is praised for his extensive experience in cross-border transactions. He receives a range of glowing feedback from clients, who describe him as “one of the best transactional lawyers in Trinidad.”  and is  commended for being “very innovative, very good at lateral thinking and understanding where you are trying to get to.”

Christopher Hamel-Smith Senior Counsel and Partner Emeritus at M. Hamel-Smith & Co.

Christopher Hamel-Smith S.C.

Christopher Hamel-Smith SC is a member of the Dispute and Risk Management department, a vastly experienced litigator and arbitrator, with decades of experience in both areas and is valued for his strategic abilities. He is a respected figure with noteworthy expertise in intellectual property, financial services, telecoms and insurance disputes. He supports other members of the disputes team on numerous cases arising in these sectors and others and is regularly called upon to sit as an arbitrator. One commentator singled him out as “an extremely detailed master of his brief” who is “capable of pursuing early resolution through sensible negotiations.” 

He is said to be “extremely thorough and attentive, and an excellent tactician.” His “detailed and effective” advocacy is strong. “He looks out for the solution that is best suited to the client even where that is low-key and low-profile,” and “he sees both the legal and the commercial dimensions, however complex, and appreciates that the resolution of a problem requires a sophisticated examination of the different DR techniques.” Christopher “brings real commercial nous” to the table, and is praised as “a fantastic advocate, a skilled barrister and a pleasure to work with.”

Gregory Pantin, Partner at M. Hamel-Smith & Co.

Gregory Pantin

Gregory Pantin is a member of the Dispute and Risk Management department providing representation in a wealth of contentious mandates, is an expert in general commercial litigation and has also assisted with tax appeals. Clients praise disputes practitioner
Gregory Pantin as “a good, articulate lawyer.” He has a range of experience spanning trade and employment cases as well as personal injury disputes. He is well known in the market as a sound choice to handle both litigation and arbitration. Gregory “impresses clients with his service ethic” and is described as a “very approachable and available adviser”. Clients indicate that “his strength is his pre-emptive approach – he is always thinking through all scenarios and strategies” and that he “has been developing a strong name for litigation”.

Glenn Hamel-Smith, Partner at M. Hamel-Smith & Co.

Glenn Hamel-Smith

Glenn Hamel-Smith has a strong aptitude for banking and finance. He regularly advises on revolving credit facilities and acts for an impressive list of commercial lenders. He is further notable for his debt capital markets practice and has additional expertise in rights issuances, M&A and restructuring matters. His work in this field spans transactional and regulatory mandates, including bank mergers, high-value note issuances and project finance. Sources recognise that he has “developed a significant role at the firm and is adding value to clients” and that “No matter how tense we get, or pressed for time, he has an even perspective, doesn’t get very riled up and is measured in his responses.”

Melissa Inglefield

Melissa Inglefield

Melissa Inglefield maintains a focus on banking and securities regulation, and additionally handles secured lending and capital markets transactions.

Commentators highlight Melissa  as “someone who has demonstrated impeccable work product, has a good approach and is very commercially minded.” She advises on an array of finance transactions and capital markets issuances, and her name is well known to fellow professionals, who judge her to be “a very good and solid younger lawyer. Melissa is praised for her thoroughness – she clearly does very good and wide-ranging research.” One source said: “Her opinion work is of a very high level.”

Lex Mundi

Hamel-Smith as a founding member has been the sole Trinidad & Tobago member for Lex Mundi since its inception in 1989 and continues to participate actively in this leading network of independent law firms which requires members to commit to provide not only high-quality legal work but superior standards of performance and client service as well.

Latin America and Caribbean Award for Best Project Financing in 2005

Hamel-Smith acted as local Counsel in the financing of the National Gas Company Cross-Island Pipeline Financing which won the Latin America and Caribbean Award for Best Project Financing in 2005.