Since 11 March 2020 dispute resolution in Mexico has been significantly affected due to the COVID-19 crisis. In such exceptional circumstances, alternative dispute resolution has taken on greater importance, as it offers parties the chance to continue proceedings (with restrictions) as efficiently as possible without having to wait for the judicial branch to resume operations.
Over the past three decades, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) has increased in popularity to the point that most parties appear to prefer it to having the courts resolve their conflicts. The benefits of ADR are flexibility, reduced costs and the opportunity to actively participate in the resolution of the dispute. However, these benefits depend on the parties voluntarily honouring the commitments adopted during the ADR proceedings.
Precautionary measures are an essential way in which to preserve assets that are subject to dispute or ensure that a final award is enforceable. Arbitration offers many advantages over judicial proceedings. However, in practice, such measures need to be issued more quickly in order to achieve the objectives for which they are designed. Notably, under Mexican law, such measures are issued much faster and more effectively than those issued under the International Chamber of Commerce arbitration rules.
The Mexican courts have issued several precedents to eradicate the existence of usury, allowing judges to discretionally reduce interest rates agreed by the parties. However, some of these precedents contradict each other as to whether the usury prohibition applies to default interest. As such, the First Chamber of the Supreme Court recently issued a decision to clarify these inconsistencies.
Digital collection (CoDi) is the latest electronic payment method developed by the Mexican Central Bank, designed to reduce the use of cash and promote competition, while incorporating larger sections of the population into the formal financial sector. It seems that Mexico is moving forward in financial technologies, such as CoDi, and using these developments to promote larger inclusion, competition and transparency for every sector in the country.
Under Mexican commercial regulations, contracting parties have traditionally been free to determine in their corresponding agreement the jurisdiction in which disputes must be resolved. However, a new binding precedent from the Supreme Court challenges this traditional approach with regard to banking adhesion contracts and is a good example of how Mexico is advancing its consumer protection regulations.
In March 2018 the Fintech Law, which aims to mitigate the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing, was published in the Federal Official Gazette. Subsequently, in January 2019 the National Commission for Regulatory Improvement published draft amendments to the anti-money laundering rules which apply to the traditional banking industry in order to incorporate the new concepts created by the Fintech Law.
The Ministry of Finance and Public Credit recently published a resolution in the Official Gazette modifying the general regulations that apply to banks. The resolution responds to the need to strengthen the regulatory framework applicable to banks, particularly with regard to cybersecurity and technological infrastructure. It also aims to guarantee the confidentiality, integrity and availability of customer information.
In November 2019 the Federal Economic Competition Commission (COFECE) and the Federal Telecommunications Institute asked the First Collegiate Court Specialised in Economic Competition, Broadcasting and Telecommunications to determine which authority has jurisdiction to review the merger of Uber and Cornershop. After a long procedure and delays owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the specialised court recently ruled in favour of COFECE.
Extraordinary measures are being taken by companies and governmental authorities to avoid aggravating the current situation and adapt quickly to the new operational and regulatory challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, economic competition law is still in force. This article discusses a series of considerations that companies should keep in mind to prevent potential competition risks relating to their behaviour or practices during the pandemic.
The Federal Economic Competition Commission's (COFECE's) board of commissioners recently fined two polyethylene glove providers for price fixing and bid rigging in the health sector. According to COFECE's resolution, the lack of competition in the bids for polyethylene gloves prevented lower acquisition prices, which affected the Mexican budget by approximately Ps42.28 million (approximately $1.7 million).
The Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) has exclusive jurisdiction over cases, procurement and advocacy in competition matters relating to the broadcasting and telecoms sectors, while the Federal Economic Competition Commission (COFECE) has jurisdiction in competition matters regarding all other sectors. While this allocation of jurisdiction between the IFT and the COFECE may appear straightforward, in reality, there is no clear-cut division of powers with regard to digital markets.
In Mexico, some public institutions consolidate the procurement requirements of their entities into one public tender to save costs and increase efficiency. As such, joint propositions among competitors may be the solution for companies that wish to participate in such processes where they involve substantial volumes of goods. However, there are no official guidelines or criteria on how joint propositions between competitors should be negotiated or implemented so that they do not pose a risk to competition.
As a result of the negotiations of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the amendment to the Constitution on 1 May 2019, a decree amending, supplementing and derogating from several provisions of the Federal Labour Law on labour justice, freedom of association and collective bargaining was published in the Federal Official Gazette. This article highlights changes that employers should expect to come into force in 2020.
The Energy Regulatory Commission has received clearance from the Federal Commission for Regulatory Improvement to publish the general administrative provisions (GAPs) that set out the Guidelines for the Statistic Registry of Commercial Transactions Arising from Regulated Activities Performed with Natural Gas and Oil. The GAPs establish the natural gas and oil registry system and provide new reporting obligations for permit holders.
The Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) recently issued a resolution which has clarified the scope of the general administrative provisions on metering that apply to holders of permits to store petroleum, petroleum products and petrochemicals. In issuing the resolution, the CRE has further relieved applicable permit holders from their obligations to comply with specific requirements.
The 2013 energy reform ordered the legal separation of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) in order to guarantee equal competition for all industry players. Accordingly, in 2016 the Ministry of Energy issued the CFE separation rules to foster open access, efficient operation and competition within the industry. As these rules resulted in several inefficiencies within CFE generation companies, the ministry recently relaxed them in order to maximise resources and reduce power prices for end users.
The Energy Regulatory Commission recently confirmed that certain business models used by retailers of refined products (eg, diesel and gasoline) are valid and stimulate competition in the market to the benefit of customers. As such, retailers can develop loyalty programmes based on bonuses, credits, subscriptions, memberships or exclusive offers, among other things, to be offered by various petrol stations. However, these programmes must be made available to all customers and cannot be discriminatory.
In his inaugural address, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed that fracking will be prohibited in Mexico. As Mexico is highly dependent on the natural gas potential of basins located in the northern part of the country, this prohibition will deny it access to resources which it needs to achieve energy sufficiency. Thus, both the executive and legislative branches should instead consider appropriate regulation (rather than a simple ban) that allows for the rational use of oil and gas resources.