David M. Orta


Washington, D.C. Office
Tel: +1 202-538-8000
Fax: +1 202-538-8100


Practice Areas
Lender Liability and Other Banking and Financial Institution Litigation
Class Action Litigation
Construction Litigation
Domestic U.S. Arbitration
Energy Sector Disputes
Government Contracts Litigation
International Arbitration
Litigation Representing Plaintiffs
Public Strategy in High Profile Litigation
Real Estate Litigation
Transnational Litigation
White Collar and Corporate Investigations


Stetson University College of Law
(J.D., magna cum laude, salutatorian, 1994)

Tulane University
(B.A., 1991)

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David Orta is the Head of the International Arbitration Practice in Washington, D.C. and Latin America for Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP.  Chambers Global and Chambers Latin America report that clients call David Orta “a vastly experienced attorney who inspires real confidence, with a remarkable ability to see all the angles.”  They also report that Mr. Orta wins praise from clients for his "sound advice and excellent client service." 

David is a trial lawyer and arbitration advocate with many years of experience successfully representing clients all over the world in complex international arbitrations (including investor-state (treaty) arbitrations and complex, international commercial arbitrations) and complex, commercial transnational litigations.  David’s clients and cases have spanned most continents, including North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.  David represents both governments and investors in international arbitration matters.  His experience spans many sectors, including energy, oil and gas, transportation, infrastructure, construction, power plant, telecommunications, mining, and post merger and acquisition disputes.

David has handled numerous investor-state arbitrations under bilateral and multilateral investment treaties administered under the auspices of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).  David also has represented clients in treaty and commercial ad hoc arbitrations administered under UNCITRAL Rules and international commercial arbitrations administered by the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) and the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR/AAA).  David also has handled many commercial, transnational litigations within and outside of the United States, including post-M&A and asset sale disputes, arbitral award enforcement proceedings and asset recovery litigation. 

David has received various accolades for his work, including being named on two separate occasions (once by the National Law Journal and once by Washingtonian Magazine) as one of the Top 40 Lawyers under 40 in Washington, DC, ranked routinely in Chambers Global, Chambers Latin America, ranked in Euromoney’s Expert’s Guide to the World’s Leading Commercial Arbitration Attorneys, selected by Global Arbitration Review as “among the world’s leading commercial arbitrators” and named to the Who’s Who Legal: Arbitration 2015; selected numerous times for inclusion in Super Lawyers—Washington, D.C. for international arbitration, named to the 2014 Lawyers of Color Hotlist, named one of the world’s leading practitioners in The International Who’s Who of Asset Recovery Lawyers 2012, elected as Member of The American Law Institute, included in Global Arbitration Review 100 (2010 Edition) "Names to Know," and named in  Lawdragon 500 "New Stars, New Worlds" in 2006.  He regularly lectures on topics of international arbitration and public and private international law all around the world and has published numerous articles on topics of interest within the international arbitration community.  

Representative Clients

Spentex Industries Limited & Spentex Netherlands, B.V.
Offshore Exploration & Production LLC
Magnus Energy Group, Ltd.
Pala Investments
Churchill Mining Plc
Republic of Panama
Republic of El Salvador
Republic of Guatemala
PPL, Corporation
Wells Fargo Bank
Largest state-owned power company in El Salvador
State-owned Geothermal power company in El Salvador
Wyeth Pharmaceuticals
Confecciones Kamerino

Notable Representations

Represent Churchill Mining Plc and Planet Mining Pty Ltd. in their multibillion dollar investment treaty claims against the Republic of Indonesia.

Lead Counsel for Spentex Netherlands B.V. in its its multimillion dollar investment treaty claims against the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Lead Counsel for a Houston-based energy company in a private international commercial arbitration and related U.S. litigation arising from the sale of a suite of companies and oil and gas assets in Latin America.

Represent Magnus Energy Group and related entities in its multimillion dollar investment treaty claims against the Republic of Indonesia.

Lead counsel for a US investor in claims against a European-based company and investment treaty claims against a Latin American country.

Lead counsel for Slovakian investors in a series of complex civil and criminal disputes arising out of a commercial investment made in a Caribbean island.

Lead trial counsel for the Republic of Guatemala in the first ever international ICSID arbitration filed under the auspices of CAFTA and the first ever ICSID arbitration filed against Guatemala.  The case was filed against Guatemala by U.S. railway management and development company -- Railroad Development Corporation (RDC) v. Republic of Guatemala (ICSID Case No. ARB/07/23).

Lead trial counsel for the Republic of Panama in the first ever international ICSID arbitration filed against it by several U.S.-based investors under the auspices of the Bilateral Investment Treaty between the U.S. and the Republic of Panamá involving a multi-million dollar claim arising from allegations that certain Panamanian tax credits were not honored.  Mr. Orta obtained a complete victory for his client and a multimillion dollar award of costs and fees—Nations Energy, Inc. y otros c. República de Panamá (ICSID Case No. ARB/06/19).

One of the lead trial counsel for the Republic of El Salvador in an international ICSID arbitration filed against it by a Spanish company and obtained a dismissal of this case on jurisdictional grounds based on the "in accordance with law" provisions of the applicable BIT and proof that the investment at issue was not made in accordance with the laws of El Salvador since the investment had been procured through fraud --  Inceysa Vallisoletana S.L. c. República de El Salvador (ICSID Case No. ARB/03/26).

Lead counsel for the Republic of Panamá in an international ICDR arbitration filed against the Republic by various US-based investors and involving a claim for tens of millions of dollars based on allegations that Panamanian tax credits were not honored by the government and obtained a dismissal of the claim in its entirety.

Lead trial counsel for a Central-American state-owned power company in an UNCITRAL ad hoc arbitration against a foreign investor.

Represented a major US electric utility company as one of its lead counsel in international arbitration issues against a Latin American state.

Lead counsel for Consorcio Pentamat a Venezuelan corporation, in its commercial dispute with Carrier Transicold, a division of Carrier Corporation, and was able to obtain a quick and favorable settlement of an unfair competition claim involving a former employee who left Consorcio Pentamat, began working for Carrier in violation of a non-compete agreement and began soliciting customers away from Consorcio Pentamat in violation of the non-solicitation provisions of his employment agreement.

Lead counsel for Electricidad de Caracas, a Venezuelan corporation, in a business dispute with a major US financial institution.

Lead counsel for Impsat Fiber Networks, an Argentinean corporation, in a commercial dispute with Nortel Networks and obtained an outright dismissal of the case in favor of Impsat.

Trial counsel for Wyeth in the nationwide diet drug ("phen-fen") litigation, including handling trials in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Florida.

Trial and national coordinating counsel for Wyeth in the defense of complex, pharmaceutical liability cases pending in both federal and state courts throughout the country, including all cases filed in Virginia, North Carolina, Delaware, Maryland and Arkansas.

Handled numerous cases for pharmaceutical clients alleging deceptive advertising and violation of consumer protection act statutes, including consumer fraud class actions.

Served as product liability counsel for Boston Scientific in its US$24.5 billion acquisition of Guidant Corporation.

Lead product liability counsel for Albemarle Corporation in a nationwide remediation program.

Lead trial counsel and obtained a jury verdict for client in a case involving consumer fraud allegations, including alleged material omissions and deceptive trade practices concerning a matchmaking service.

Lead counsel for and obtained a quick favorable settlement on behalf of Overlook Systems Technologies, Inc. in its dispute with a former employee involving unfair competition claims, including misappropriation of trade secrets and other proprietary information.

Lead counsel for Albemarle Corporation in its business dispute with a distributor and filed a preemptive suit and obtained a quick settlement of a variety of breach of contract and tort claims in which the parties were cross-claiming for millions in damages.

Trial counsel for a brokerage company in a commercial fraud case and obtained a jury verdict on behalf of the brokerage company.