Portugal - Dispute Resolution: Corporate Crime Lawyers & Law Firms - Europe - Chambers and Partners
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Europe Guide

Dispute Resolution: Corporate Crime — Portugal

Overview

PORTUGAL: An Introduction to Dispute Resolution Contributed by PLMJ Network

Dispute Resolution - 2018

Portugal continues to enjoy a high profile on the international scene. One recent sign of this was the election as president of the Eurogroup of the Portuguese Minister of Finance, Mário Centeno, who will take up this important role in 2018. As the Minister of Finance of a government made up of all the parties on the left of Portuguese politics, Mr Centeno has demonstrated an enormous capacity to balance positions at the heart of Portuguese politics that are very often contradictory. At the same time, he has managed to conciliate the budgetary constraints imposed by the European Union. Mr Centeno’s skills will undoubtedly come to bear in the next few years, particularly in the reform of the Eurozone that is necessary to bring the economies of its member countries closer together.

Portuguese exports continue to enjoy strong growth and, for 2017, it is expected to be around 5%, which implies a growth in market share of 1.9%. This dynamism in exports is being witnessed in both goods and in the provision of services.

In its internal economy, Portugal continues to be recognised as one of the best international tourism destinations. It is consistently top-ranked, winning a record number of international awards in every tourism category. Moreover, the tourism industry has achieved consistent annual two-digit growth. This has been instrumental in developing the country’s trade balance. However, analysts are concerned that structural problems, and fundamental reforms and changes to the Portuguese economy are being postponed.

Importantly, the automotive and renewable energy industries are thriving. However, there have been labour demands and tax issues that could have a slight negative impact on the strong success of these industries which, like tourism, are among the most important components of the Portuguese economy.

Portugal’s unemployment rate fell considerably during 2017 and, at year-end, it stands at 9%. This is comparable with the Eurostat 9.1% average unemployment rate in the EU. However, although falling, the country’s unemployment rate among young people is high, standing at 23.4% compared with 26.7% in 2016.

Portugal’s social, legal and economic developments are acknowledged not only through its capacity to attract tourism and investment, but also by its improved reputation worldwide, from the recent above-average PISA results to ranking 19th in the Social Progress Index, or 25th in the World Bank’s Doing Business guide.

In internal policy, Portugal’s previous centre-right government was successful in leading the country out of the Troika international bailout, having implemented and enacted several legal and economic reforms aimed at boosting the country’s economic, labour and business competitiveness. The current government is managing the fall of four of Portugal’s most important banks and has reformed the state bank CGD. Following the BES resolution, a bridge bank was created with the most important assets. It was held by the BES Resolution Fund and controlled by the Bank of Portugal, and has now been sold to the US fund Lone Star. This deal – the biggest finance/M&A deal of 2017 – was, nevertheless, very controversial. Consequently, there has been a wave of high-value, extremely complex litigation involving the whole process of BES’s resolution, and there may be new cases to come.

The media/telecoms market has also been active, with the recent discussion of the possible acquisition by Portugal Telecom (now controlled by French group Altice) of the television channel TVI. Other market players have challenged this, believing it violates competition rules and would give Portugal Telecom a dominant position. They consider this unacceptable, because the group would have excessive control over quad play and media content.

Portugal has emerged from its crisis with a modern, high-standard dispute resolution system. The country has successfully implemented an e-justice platform (CITIUS), creating a completely paperless justice system. It has also introduced a more flexible and simplified Civil Procedure Code and upgraded its insolvency law (including a chapter 11-style mechanism that has proven to be a solid handrail for struggling businesses). Changes have also been made to cost allocation in judicial proceedings, allowing for a mitigated loser bears all system, which is expected to reduce frivolous claims and the backlog of court cases.

There has been an increase in actions brought by consumers in both environmental and finance/capital markets matters. Although Portuguese legislation on class actions dates back to the end of the last century, consumers have found that the Portuguese system, which is the opt-out type, favours this type of litigation, and NGOs and some law firms have focused on bringing this type of action. The implosion of the largest Portuguese financial group (GES) had a significant impact, because it directly or indirectly affected practically the whole country.

Among those with the greatest impact is the criminal case known as “Operação Marquês” (Operation Marquês) or “Caso Sócrates” (the Sócrates Case). In this case, several leading Portuguese companies, high profile individuals (in the telecommunications market, construction, financial and banking sectors and in the tourism market) and politicians, including the former Portuguese Prime Minister, were investigated and accused of committing the crimes of corruption, money laundering and tax fraud, among others. This is the largest ever criminal case in the history of the Portuguese justice system and it is also extremely demanding, involving complex financing schemes and based on a time-consuming and wide investigation. There have been more than 200 witness interviews and more than 3500 wiretapping transcriptions. Furthermore, the case file has 115 main volumes and 904 annexes (with several volumes each) and approximately 13.5 million computer files.

Directives 2015/849/EU and 2016/2258/EU, which establish measures to combat money laundering and terrorism financing, were partially implemented in 2017 and the innovations (the ones relating to the identification of the beneficial owner in transactions carried out and the concept of "politically exposed persons") will lead to an increase in dispute resolution and criminal cases.

Arbitration is thriving in Portugal. The UNCITRAL model-law inspired Arbitration Act has been in force since 2012 and the assessment of the last five years is very favourable: the arbitration community has been active in creating legal doctrine and domestic soft-laws (including an IBA inspired arbitration code of ethics). More importantly, the last five years have been prolific in pro-arbitration court decisions, notably from the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, where it is common for judges to include references to international doctrine and case law.

Overall, Arbitration legislation is modern and inspired by the best international practices and trends. There have been some missteps, notably with mandatory arbitration (imposed in certain areas to reduce state courts’ backlog) and with recent procedural obstacles imposed on arbitration with public authorities. Nevertheless, arbitration in Portugal has seen consistent development and the market has responded positively to this evolution, with more and more arbitration cases and practitioners.

In general, dispute resolution practitioners are very well prepared to work for and in an international market, adapting and accommodating their services for clients from different cultural and legal backgrounds. Moreover, the most reputed dispute resolution teams have internationally educated lawyers and offer multi-disciplinary and multi-location teams, with considerable experience and impressive track records in international litigation and arbitration.

Recent years have been kind to dispute resolution practitioners and, fortunately, more and greater challenges lie ahead.

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Senior Statesperson

José António Barreiros

José António Barreiros

From the Chambers Europe guide

Sole practitioner José António Barreiros's practice covers criminal law, and in particular corporate crime. Peers note his long-standing experience in the field and describe him as "excellent."

^ See whole ranking table

Senior Statesperson

Germano Marques da Silva

G Marques da Silva

From the Chambers Europe guide

Germano Marques da Silva of G Marques da Silva is well reputed for his experience in dispute resolution, with sources stating that he is "very good." He is particularly known for his extensive knowledge of corporate crime.

^ See whole ranking table

Senior Statesperson

Daniel Proença de Carvalho

Uría Menéndez - Proença de Carvalho

From the Chambers Europe guide

Daniel Proença de Carvalho is deemed to be a "very good lawyer with extensive experience and an excellent reputation." He handles all aspects of dispute resolution, including corporate crime disputes and arbitration. Sources also describe him as "a  very good arbitrator."

^ See whole ranking table

Star Individuals

Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados, SP, RL.

From the Chambers Europe guide

The "fantastic" Rui Patrício impresses market commentators with his skills regarding corporate crime: "He is a very, very strong criminal lawyer. When we talk about Morais's criminal law practice, we talk about him." His expertise includes matters of corruption, money laundering and tax fraud. He boasts additional skills in civil litigation and represented Euroatlantic in a number of civil lawsuits.

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Band 1

Paulo de Sá e Cunha

Cuatrecasas

From the Chambers Europe guide

Top-ranked Paulo de Sá e Cunha is "a brilliant white-collar crime lawyer." His impressive depth of knowledge includes matters involving corruption, money laundering and fraud. He represents companies, often in the financial sector, as well as individuals.

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Band 1

PLMJ Lawyers

From the Chambers Europe guide

João Medeiros dedicates his practice to corporate crime matters, including cases involving corruption and money laundering. Sources describe him as "excellent," highlighting his extensive experience.

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Band 2

Rogério Alves & Associados

From the Chambers Europe guide

The "excellent" Rogério Alves of Rogério Alves & Associados is a highly regarded lawyer focusing on corporate crime. He has further expertise in financial regulation infringement.

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Band 2

José Lobo Moutinho

Sérvulo & Associados

From the Chambers Europe guide

The "great" José Lobo Moutinho has extensive experience in representing clients in regulated sectors in high-profile white-collar matters, including corruption and fraud.

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Band 2

Carlos Pinto de Abreu

Carlos Pinto de Abreu e Associados

From the Chambers Europe guide

Carlos Pinto de Abreu of Carlos Pinto de Abreu e Associados is well reputed for his work in criminal law and corporate crime, with sources confirming that he is "very well known in this area" and is "very good."

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Band 2

Paulo Saragoça da Matta

Saragoça da Matta & Silveiro de Barros Sociedade de Advogados

From the Chambers Europe guide

According to sources, Paulo Saragoça da Matta of Saragoça da Matta & Silveiro de Barros Sociedade de Advogados is "excellent in every aspect." He focuses on corporate crime and is praised for his practical approach to cases.

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Band 3

Fernando Aguilar de Carvalho

Uría Menéndez - Proença de Carvalho

From the Chambers Europe guide

The "excellent" Fernando Aguilar de Carvalho is well reputed for his corporate crime expertise and frequently acts on matters for international companies. Sources praise his dedication to his clients, stating: "He is able to provide answers with a good response time and has a high level of knowledge." He is also active in commercial litigation and arbitration.

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Band 3

Paulo Farinha Alves

PLMJ Lawyers

From the Chambers Europe guide

Paulo Farinha Alves handles corporate crime cases, acting for large corporates as well as private individuals. He has been active of late in matters related to money laundering and corruption.

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Band 3

Francisco Proença de Carvalho

Uría Menéndez - Proença de Carvalho

From the Chambers Europe guide

Francisco Proença de Carvalho is particularly well reputed for his activity in criminal law. He frequently acts for individuals in the financial sector.

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Band 3

Sofia Ribeiro Branco

VdA

From the Chambers Europe guide

According to sources, Sofia Ribeiro Branco is "a good lawyer for criminal matters." She is well reputed for her expertise in corporate crime and handles a range of matters, including regulatory offences, corruption and compliance. Sources describe her as "dedicated, strong and knowledgeable."

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Band 3

Joaquim Shearman de Macedo

CMS

From the Chambers Europe guide

Joaquim Shearman de Macedo regularly acts on corporate, construction, contractual and insurance disputes. Sources describe him as a "very good lawyer."

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