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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

TozziniFreire Advogados

04 April 2018

Won an important ruling in Brazil over an arbitrator's non-disclosure

People in Who’s Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 1
Treaty cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments
11 (of which 4 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 3

Like most Brazilian firms, TozziniFreire’s arbitration department only really developed post-2001 – after the Supreme Court declared that the 1997 Arbitration Act was constitutional. One of the drafters of that law, José Emilio Nunes Pinto, was a senior partner at the firm at the time (he left in 2004).

Since then, the firm has relied on its established corporate practice to provide arbitration work. Combined with an already strong litigation practice, the firm quickly made a name for itself – whether or not they were already clients of TozziniFreire.

The firm now handles cases seated in Brazil and abroad involving a wide variety of subject matters and industries, including M&A-related disputes (pre and post-closing issues), distribution agreements, shareholders’ disputes, construction projects, complex financial instruments and joint-ventures disputes.

The practice is headed by Fernando Serec – a São Paulo-based partner with an impressive caseload both as counsel and as an arbitrator. In 2013, he was appointed to hear a fractious dispute between a Portuguese government entity and Angola’s national diamond producer (now settled).

A number of the partners hold board positions at major domestic institutions such as the American Chamber of Commerce and the Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce.


With arbitration professionals located in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and Campines, TozziniFreire is well positioned to represent clients in proceedings seated in any of Brazil’s major cities.

Who uses it?

It advises banking clients such as Merrill Lynch, Santander and Unibanco as well as biofuels companies, food producers and businesses that have encountered post-closing M&A issues. AES and Cargill have used the team.

Track record

The team had a critical role advising the Casino Group in its heated dispute with Brazilian supermarket tycoon Abílio Diniz over Pão de Açúcar’s intended merger with Carrefour. The case was settled in 2013.

It recently teamed up with Quinn Emanuel to help a Brazilian client favourably settle a US$250 million dispute over the sale of energy assets.

Recent events

The firm achieved an eye-catching result for Brazilian businessman Adriano Ometto as part of his long-running dispute with Spain’s Abengoa. In April 2017, the Superior Court of Justice in Brazil refused to enforce a US$110 million arbitral award in Abengoa’s favour, based on the tribunal chair’s failure to disclose that his firm had advised clients on corporate transactions to which Abengoa was a counterparty. Even though the award was enforced in the US courts in 2014, the Superior Court ruled that enforcement would violate Brazilian public policy. An extraordinary appeal to Brazil’s Supreme Court is pending.

In July 2017, Leonardo Miranda joined the firm as partner and head of the oil and gas department from São Paulo’s CFA Advogados.

Julio Gonzaga Andrade Neves was promoted to partner in 2017.

Client comment

Francine Bolutavicius, legal director at LafargeHolcim, called TozziniFreire’s performance “remarkable”. She praised Fernando Serec for his “strong expertise” and Rafael Medeiros Mimica for his “proactive behaviour and strategic thinking”.

Cadillac Fairview Corporation chair Cintia Guimarães said the firm is “really focused and always available. They are also very organised, meet all deadlines and are always prepared for meetings.”

Guimarães singled out Antonio Barbuto Neto for praise. She said “He really knows how to deal and communicate effectively with foreign clients. He is always very prepared for meetings and usually thinks about issues before we even ask. It is hard to find a lawyer with such amazing client-handling skills.”



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