The Brazilian firm has a host of global ICC and ad hoc proceedings on its books
|Pending cases as counsel||75|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$3 billion|
|Third-party funded cases||2|
|Current arbitrator appointments||65 (18 as chair or sole)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||5|
Based in São Paulo, LO Baptista Advogados has long been highly regarded for its two core practice areas of arbitration, and corporate and M&A. The arbitration practice acquired its reputation under the leadership of Luiz Olavo Baptista, a former chairman of the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body and one of Brazil’s most famous arbitrators. He left the firm in 2015 to concentrate on his practice as arbitrator.
In 2011, LO Baptista merged with Schmidt Valois Miranda Ferreira & Agel, a Rio de Janeiro firm best known for its work in energy, natural resources and infrastructure. The merger – an unheard-of proposition in Brazil at that time – was initially successful. But growing conflicts of interest between the energy and disputes practices led to the unravelling of the merger in 2016. The two firms continue to collaborate on certain cases.
Maurício Almeida Prado and Adriana Braghetta continue to co-lead LO Baptista’s arbitration team in São Paulo. Braghetta is a former vice president of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration and currently sits on its congress committee. She’s also a former chair of the Brazilian Arbitration Committee. Braghetta and Prado sit as arbitrators, as do partners Fernando Marcondes, who specialises in construction disputes, and Paulo Macedo Garcia Neto, who is admitted to several regional Brazilian arbitration councils.
Though the firm lost its office in Rio after the split, it retains its membership of ALFA International, a network of 145 law firms across the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia.
Who uses it?
The firm has acted for Angola and its national diamond company, Endiama, in an investment dispute, and Brazilian retail company Via Varejo used the firm in a shareholder dispute between its parent group CBD and Brazilian billionaire socialite Lily Safra.
A large number of its clients come from the energy, construction, telecoms, banking and mining sectors, and include government entities.
The firm helped Brazil’s national development bank BNDES defeat a US$250 million claim brought by Ecuador’s state power utility Hidropastaza, which concerned a loan for a hydropower plant.
It won a US$200 million ICC arbitration that pitched two Brazilian construction companies against a European energy company.
The firm helped a client win US$80 million in a dispute over an electricity supply contract involving a party under judicial reorganisation. A final award was rendered in 2015 granting the client most of its claims.
Recent ICC arbitrations the firm has undertaken for Brazilian companies include Paris-seated proceedings worth US$137 million arising from the execution of a share purchase agreement, and proceedings in Miami relating to a dispute about a construction contract that was terminated by a Central American government. The firm was also retained by a consortium of Brazilian and Japanese companies in an ICC arbitration against a Brazilian construction company related to an industrial plant project in the country.
Ad hoc proceedings the firm has worked on of late include a 110 million reais arbitration concerning a turnkey contract for the construction of a hydroelectric power plant, which centred around a claim for time and price extensions, and a US$110 million dispute between a state and a foreign investor following a governmental decree that extinguished the investor’s operating license.