NEW YORK – Cuba is presenting the world with a Rubik’s Cube of business potential, and leading global law firm Paul Hastings, is the first to hold a seminar by a U.S. law firm in Cuba following the recent loosening of trade restrictions.
Paul Hastings partners, including senior real estate, corporate, trade regulatory and Latin American group partners, hosted a seminar in Havana, Cuba on November 12 and 13, 2015. The seminar was aimed at promoting business and legal ties between Cuba and the United States as well as Mexico, Spain and other countries. This is the first time a large U.S. law firm, or any large U.S. business enterprise, has organized an event like this to explore with high level Cuban officials the opportunities for business and legal exchanges.
“One of the big takeaways from the many discussions that took place on the ground in Cuba is that while there are many business opportunities for sophisticated international players, the legal framework has yet to be developed to support success across various industries, such as tourism, energy, telecommunications and the development of the much needed infrastructure on the island,” said Mike Fitzgerald, head of the Latin America practice group at Paul Hastings. “It was phenomenal to experience the overwhelming sincere and welcoming nature of the people in Cuba. Nevertheless, it’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario where the development of a more traditional legal framework will be critical to entice major international companies and investors to make a strong business commitment in Cuba.”
The event was heavily attended by high level Cuban business and legal officials, including a Cuba Supreme Court member, the head of the Cuban energy commission and the Chair of the law school of the University of Havana. Scott Flicker, the head of Paul Hastings’ Washington D.C. office and expert on trade and investment in Cuba, also gave a presentation on U.S. sanctions on trade with Cuba, which was likely the first time an American lawyer has made such a presentation to Cubans on Cuban soil.
The seminar was highly rewarding and very well received by both Cuban and non-Cuban participants and provided a unique opportunity for Americans and Cubans to understand, appreciate and explore the existing legal systems, frame-works, treaties and protocols, as well as limitations and opportunities for investment and exchange. The seminar was co-sponsored by the Spanish law firm Lupicinio, which has been doing business in Cuba for decades.
“At the end of the day, there will be many attractive opportunities for US companies and investors who, with careful legal guidance, should be able to succeed in this almost un-charted territory. I would say to keep in mind that as has often been said and proven to be the case, fortune favours the bold and the first mover advantage can prove to be particularly lucrative in Cuba,” Fitzgerald concluded.
At Paul Hastings, our purpose is clear — to help our clients and people navigate new paths to growth. With a strong presence throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the U.S., Paul Hastings is recognized as one of the world’s most innovative global law firms.