News & Articles

Announcement: Partner Lauren Hunt Appointed Adjunct Professor of Law

Alvarez & Diaz-Silveira LLP is pleased to announce that Partner Lauren Hunt has been appointed an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Miami School of Law.  Lauren will be teaching Land Security and Finance as part of the Law School’s Real Property Development LLM Program.  “This is a great opportunity to bring together my practice and my commitment to our community and I am looking forward to this new challenge,” said Lauren.

Lauren, a  leading woman real estate lawyer in the South Florida, is an expert in the acquisition, leasing, financing, development and disposition of industrial, commercial, retail and residential properties.  Lauren regularly advises clients in transactions in the real property, hospitality and financing sectors.  Lauren was selected to teach the Land and Security Finance Course for her expertise in the financing of real estate projects and their development.

In addition to her expertise in real estate and finance, Lauren is a committed community member and the mom of three children.  She is dedicated to serving, and her experience includes membership in the Junior League of Miami, serving in various leadership positions including as a member of the Board of Directors.  Lauren is a member of the Urban land Institute (ULI), a non-profit education outreach institution focusing on promoting responsible land development and building sustainable communities.  She is also active in the ULI’s Women’s Leadership Institute and is active in the National Association of Minority and Woman Owned Law Firms as well as the firm’s Woman’s Initiative.

Alvarez & Diaz-Silveira LLP is a Miami based transactional law firm focused on international and domestic M&A, finance, real estate and corporate immigration, serving leading companies, family offices and high net worth individuals.

Update on U.S. Lawsuits Under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act

In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Helms-Burton Act, designed to strengthen and continue the United States embargo against Cuba. Title III of the Act created a private right of action and authorizes U.S. nationals with claims to confiscated property in Cuban to file suit in U.S. courts against persons that may be “trafficking” in that property. However, the Act also granted the President the authority to suspend the law for periods of up to 6 months, which Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump have all done, such that Title III had never taken effect before 2019.

On May 2, 2019, President Trump allowed his prior suspension to expire.  The rationale for the waiver was that it would avoid entangling companies from U.S.-allied countries in years of complicated litigation that would in turn bring on a wave of trade-related legal claims against the U.S. During a speech in Miami in 2018, National Security Advisor John Bolton outlined the Trump administration’s plan to implement Title III fully as part of a broader effort to ramp up pressure on the Cuban government over its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. In early 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo partially suspended Title III, in order to conduct a review of “the national interests of the United States and efforts to expedite a transition to democracy in Cuba.”

Since the lifting of the suspension of Title III, the first lawsuits against companies accused of trafficking in confiscated Cuban property have been filed in Miami. Two of the lawsuits target Carnival Cruise Lines, alleging that the Miami-based cruise company has been using ports in Havana and Santiago de Cuba that belonged to the plaintiffs’ families or families’ companies without compensation. Exxon Mobil filed another lawsuit against two Cuban companies for using an oil refinery and other properties seized by the Cuban government 60 years ago. Other lawsuits may be filed against the Melia and Blau groups for using buildings seized in Holguin; the French firm Pernod Ricard over the sugar fields, factories and distillery used in producing Havana Club rum; and over the use and ownership of Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport and the Cubana de Aviacion airline.

The nearly 60 U.S. companies with presence in Cuban are doing so under authorizations issued by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, but having an OFAC license may not be enough to protect the businesses from lawsuits. Several lawsuits may pivot on interpretations of the language in the law itself. Companies in the travel industry could argue that their businesses in Cuba are covered under the “lawful travel” exception in the Helms-Burton Act, but since most of the U.S. companies’ businesses in Cuba did not exist when the law was signed in 1996, federal judges will have to assess the intention of the lawmakers at the time.

Currently, there are 5,913 certified claims of seized American property in Cuba, which the State Department has estimated to be worth $1.9 billion, now $8 billion with interest. However, only 817 claims had an original value of more than $50,000, the minimum amount required for lawsuits filed under Title III. Cubans who attained U.S. citizenship after 1959 are also allowed to sue under the law, with the State Department estimating between 75,000 to 200,000 additional, uncertified claims, although claims for residential property are not permitted. The high number of claims is partly due to the expansive language used by the law, as Title III defines “trafficking” to encompass not only those who own the confiscated property, but also those who profit from its use. The law allows U.S. citizen plaintiffs to sue for three times the current value of the property.

The Cuban government has stated that it will not respond to any lawsuit filed under the Helms-Burton Act and that it does not recognize the jurisdiction of U.S. courts, although it had previously offered to enter into negotiations to repay U.S. companies for seized property. During the Obama administration, U.S. and Cuban representatives met several times to discuss the issue of compensation for seized property, but the talks went nowhere because the Cuban delegation demanded U.S. compensation for damages caused by the U.S. trade embargo, which they estimated to be nearly $1 billion. Therefore even successful plaintiffs might face difficulty collecting judgments, although defendants such as companies from U.S.-allied countries may have assets in the U.S., which could be within the reach of U.S. courts.

Should you wish to discuss these matters with us, please do not hesitate to call our partners Pedro A. Alvarez or Albert Diaz-Silveira.

Partner Named One of the Top 50 Women-Led Florida Business Leaders

Alvarez Diaz-Silveira LLP is pleased to announce that Partner Colleen Grady has been named as one of the Top 50 Women-led Business Leaders in Florida by the collaborative project of The Commonwealth Institute, its Program Partner Wells Fargo and its Research Partner, Kaufman Rossin. She will be one of the honorees at The 14th Annual Top Women Awards Luncheon on May 9th.

Colleen was also recently named Managing Partner of the Firm and serves as the Co-Chair of its very active Woman’s Initiative that is a joint effort with León Cosgrove LLP, a Miami-based litigation firm.

“Colleen is a firm leader and forward-looking individual who well deserves this recognition,” stated Tony Alvarez, a founder of the firm.  “She is dedicated to building diversity and excellence and works tirelessly for her clients and colleagues,” he noted.

Colleen is a member of the firm’s corporate practice.  She has been recognized for her excellence in providing added-value counseling to her clients.  Prior to joining the firm, Colleen practiced at White & Case LLP, in the Miami, Stockholm and Helsinki offices of the firm before teaching at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad Law Center.  Colleen was recognized in 2018 by the Daily Business Review as Most Effective Lawyer in the category of International Transactions for her work as lead U.S. counsel to Dometic AB in its $875 million acquisition of SeaStar Solutions form affiliates of New York-based private equity firm American Securities LLC. She was also a part of the firm’s team that won the Daily Business Review’s 2015 Top Dealmaker of the Year for the industrial category for work in representing the purchaser of an interest in a liquid natural gas processing plan in Trinidad and Tobago.

Alvarez & Diaz-Silveira LLP is a Miami based transactional law firm focused on international and domestic M&A, finance, real estate and corporate immigration, serving leading companies, family offices and high net worth individuals.

Announcing New Managing Partner

Alvarez Diaz-Silveira LLP is pleased to announce that Partner Colleen Grady has been named Managing Partner of the firm.  Colleen is a member of the firm’s corporate practice and a leader in her field.

Founding Partners, Tony Alvarez and Albert Diaz-Silveira stated that it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to have someone like Colleen bring fresh thinking and build upon the firm’s diversity.   “Colleen is focused on collaboration, innovation and efficiency which are critical to our growth and development,” noted the founders.  “She embodies the culture and value of the firm and its goals and has the talent and commitment to lead as we continue to provide outstanding service and pursue new opportunities,” stated Tony Alvarez.

Colleen focuses her practice on mergers and acquisitions and in counseling all types of enterprises in their commercial and business matters.

As Managing Partner, Colleen will oversee the day-to-day management of the firm and its strategic goals.  As an initial matter, she will oversee the firm’s move to its new Coral Gables offices in April.

Alvarez & Diaz-Silveira LLP is a Miami based transactional law firm focused on international and domestic M&A, finance, real estate and corporate immigration, serving leading companies, family offices and high net worth individuals.

2018: A Year in Review

We commenced 2018 with a great deal of activity at the firm both internally, as we  restructured and changed our firm name, and for our clients with their many exciting projects.

We kicked off preparations for our relocation to Coral Gables at the beginning of the second- quarter of 2019, selected a location, and are continuing to plan for our new offices. We look forward to moving into our new space at 355 Alhambra Circle, Coral Gables on April 1 and celebrating this step with our clients and friends.

For our clients, we continued to build on our delivery of excellent corporate, real estate and immigration services and to expand and deepen existing relationships.

On the mergers and acquisition front, the firm was fortunate during the year to work on some very exciting transactions, including:

  • Representing a leading developer of senior housing communities in the creation of several joint ventures with an established private equity fund;
  • Continuing our representation of a Central American wind farm operator in its financing transactions with a World Bank syndicate;
  • Representing a Mexican based company in its acquisition of an IT services firm with operations in the United States and Mexico; and
  • Representing a Mexican group in its concession of operating a marine mammal park in Florida.

Real estate continued to be a significant part of our practice. 2018 brought with it some exciting engagements including:

  • Representing a leading real estate developer in connection with the negotiation of a development agreement for the acquisition and development of a mixed-use project consisting of affordable housing, retail and office uses;
  • Representing a Florida municipality in connection with the ground lease and development of an 800-room convention center hotel;
  • Representing a leading real estate developer and operator of commercial properties in connection with two refinancings totaling approximately $100 million for two Florida commercial office-building portfolios; and
  • Representing a leading real estate developer in connection with the acquisition and financing of approximately 15 acres of land in South Florida for the development of a Class A senior housing

During 2018, we also were fortunate to add new lawyers in both the real estate and corporate practices. Krista DeCastro joined as Counsel in our real estate practice. Krista is an exceptional real estate lawyer with a wide range of real estate transaction experience. She has focused her work on the financing, acquisition, disposition, development, leasing and management of real property. Prior to joining the firm, Krista practiced at White & Case LLP  and Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price and Axelrod LLP. Florida Super Lawyers has recognized her on numerous occasions as a Rising Star.

Monica “Mona” Betancourt joined our corporate practice late this year. Mona is a graduate of The University of Chicago Law School and will be engaged principally in assisting our clients on corporate matters.

Our Women’s Initiative, which is a joint initiative with the women lawyers of León Cosgrove LLP, continued its important work to improve diversity and meaningful inclusion of women lawyers at the two firms. This year the Initiative co-hosted a Non-Obvious Diner at the Biltmore Hotel with Ben du Pont. This event gathered 100 leaders in business, non-profit and education together to share ideas of how the world would change in the next five years. If you are interested in reading about some of the ideas discussed during the event, reach out to Colleen Grady at cgrady@adsllp.com.

Finally, the firm’s work continued to be recognized in the marketplace. The firm received two further designations that reflect its commitment to excellence. On November 1, 2018, the Daily Business Review, a publication of The American Lawyer announced its 14th Annual Most Effective Lawyers list, recognizing the achievement of lawyers who delivered impressive performances in the past year. Among the honorees, our partner, Colleen Grady, received recognition for her work in international transactions.

In addition, this past year, U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers announced the Ninth Edition of the “Best Law Firms.” We received two important regional rankings of which we are very proud and which recognized the firm’s work in both real estate and corporate law. These recognitions are in addition to the firm’s existing rankings by Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 and continue to confirm our firm’s commitment to excellence.

Alvarez & Diaz-Silveira LLP is a Miami based transactional law firm focused on international and domestic M&A, finance, real estate and corporate immigration, serving leading companies, family offices and high net worth individuals.

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