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 has ranked seven of the lawyers at Hamel-Smith, one of whom have been awarded No. 1 ranking, which is the highest number of lawyer rankings for any law firm in Trinidad and Tobago. The firm is also ranked in Band 1. Below is an extract of some of the recent reviews and quotes published by Chambers Global.
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.
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:
“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.”
Timothy Hamel-Smith is a major draw for clients seeking to finance large energy projects in the country. Bank financings, mergers and acquisitions are also within his purview. 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 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. 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.”
Managing Partner, Nicole Ferreira-Aaron 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 heads the Dispute and Risk Management department. He receives multiple plaudits for his work in disputes. 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.”
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. 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 has a strong aptitude for banking and finance. 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 maintains a focus on banking and securities regulation, and additionally handles secured lending and capital markets transactions. Up-and-coming 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.”
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.
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.