An important firm in the world of Lusophone arbitration
|People in Who's Who Legal||1|
|People in Future Leaders||2|
|Pending cases as counsel||14|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$4.31 billion|
|Current arbitrator appointments||11 (5 as chair or sole)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||5|
Morais Leitão Galvão Teles Soares da Silva & Associados was formed through a merger between two well-established Portuguese firms in 2004.
The merger brought together two leading figures in Portugal’s arbitration scene: João Morais Leitão, one of the founding fathers of modern commercial arbitration in Portugal, who died in 2006; and Miguel Galvão Teles, who headed the firm’s public international law practice before his death in 2015.
The international arbitration team is now led by António Pinto Leite, president of the Portuguese Arbitration Association and former president of the the ICC’s Portuguese national committee, and includes five other partners.
Two of the firm’s lawyers have helped shape recent changes to Portugal’s arbitration infrastructure. António Sampaio Caramelo was one of the main drafters of the country’s 2012 arbitration law while Filipe Vaz Pinto took part in drafting the new 2014 rules of the Commercial Arbitration Centre of the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where he now serves as vice president.
Several members of the practice feature on the arbitrator lists of institutions in Portugal, Spain, Brazil and Angola.
The practice’s focus is on arbitrations connected to Portugal or Portuguese-speaking jurisdictions such as Angola, Brazil, Mozambique and Macao.
The firm has offices in Lisbon, Porto and Funchal (in Madeira), as well as long-standing associations with firms in Angola, Macao and Mozambique via the MLGTS Legal Circle. In Brazil, it has a relationship with GAR 100 firm Mattos Filho Veiga Filho Marrey Jr e Quiroga Advogados.
Who uses it?
The firm is busy in the energy and mining sectors, where its clients include Redes Energéticas Nacionais (REN), the operator of Portugal’s national electricity and gas services; Energias de Portugal; Angola’s national oil company Sonangal; and Escom Mining, one of Angola’s biggest investors.
It has also acted for Lusoponte, the concessionaire of two bridges over the Tagus river in Lisbon, in arbitrations against the government over changes to the concession agreement.
US defence contractor General Dynamics used the firm for a dispute over a US$475 million deal to supply armoured vehicles.
It also advises financial institutions including the European Investment Bank, Caixa BI, Banco Santander and Crédit Foncier de France. In the pharmaceutical sector, it has acted for Teva, Pfizer and SK Chemical.
Morais Leitão helped to settle an ICC case worth more than US$400 million on behalf of an Indian joint venture in a dispute with Mozambique concerning the Biera rail project.
It helped a client in the African mining sector to defeat LCIA claims worth US$130 million. The claimant was awarded nominal damages and ordered to pay all legal costs.
In the Lisbon Court of Appeal, it defeated a challenge to a US$90 million award in favour of its clients. The underlying dispute was between shareholders of a toll road concessionaire and a consortium of international and Portuguese banks.
It enforced a US$50 million arbitral award rendered in Brazil against a Portuguese high-net-worth individual.
The year before, it acted for Crédit Foncier de France in a dispute with a Portuguese high net worth individual over a shareholders’ agreement relating to a Portuguese bank, obtaining a favourable partial award that paved the way for a settlement.
Also in 2013, the firm obtained a favourable award in a dispute between two energy companies related to the determination of the price of a stake in a telecoms operator, successfully getting a US$80 million claim against its client dismissed.
Another win came for REN in a dispute with Galp Energia related to the unbundling of the natural gas sector in Portugal.
In 2018, the firm launched Lisbon Arbitration, a new web portal created to provide Lusophone practitioners with specialised information on arbitration including updates and commentary on legislation and case law.
The firm represented Sonangol subsidiary MS Telcom-Mercury as one of three respondents in an ICC case worth US$3 billion brought by a subsidiary of Brazil’s Oi under a shareholders’ agreement for Angolan mobile phone carrier Unitel. A five-member ICC tribunal ordered the three respondents to pay US$650 million to the Oi companies but rejected other claims worth US2.1 billion.
Partner Miguel de Almada left the firm to join Cuatrecasas in Spain.