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GAR 100 - 4th Edition

TozziniFreire Advogados

21 February 2011

One of the largest of Brazil’s law firms, TozziniFreire Advogados is described in the Latin Lawyer 250 as a “pacesetter”.

Pending cases as counsel:
14
Value of pending counsel work:
US$0.25 billion

In arbitration, even before it was a popular practice area in Brazil, the firm could lay claim to one of the few recognised Brazilian authorities in the field – José Emilio Nunes Pinto. He’s since moved on, but three other partners now have experience: Fernando Eduardo Serec, who leads the wider litigation department, Giovanni Ettore Nanni, a professor at a local university, and the recently promoted Antonio Marzagão Barbuto Neto, a former foreign associate at Debevoise & Plimpton.

The firm is particularly envied for its M&A and banking and finance practices, and much of the current work reflects that strength. The firm is often consulted on disputes arising from complex financial agreements – it’s representing Merrill Lynch in some of the first derivatives arbitrations to take place in Brazil.

In addition to financial firms, clients include biofuels businesses, food producers, and businesses that have encountered post-closing M&A issues. Santander, Unibanco, AES and Cargill have used the arbitration team. Younger members of the team have worked at King & Spalding and White & Case. The firm has offices across Brazil.

Recent events

In the Merrill Lynch derivatives dispute with French-owned poultry company Doux Frangosul, a São Paulo court agreed to compel an ad hoc arbitration after Doux defaulted on a derivatives agreement. In doing so, Tozzini lawyers overturned an anti-arbitration injunction obtained in Rio Grande do Sul at first instance.

The firm notes that the case should stand as a “cautionary tale against the use of ad hoc arbitration clauses”, as the lack of a designated arbitral body necessitated recourse to the courts, which held the case up by more than a year.

The firm also continued to represent a well-known manufacturer of auto parts in a closely-followed ICC arbitration, having already won partial award in the client's favour.

Another recent happy client is Paramount, which won a significant damages award on behalf of a former Brazilian distributor. The award is now the subject of enforcement proceedings.

Marzagão Barbuto Neto was promoted to partner and the team recruited an additional Brazilian-American, bringing experience at the Brazil-Portugal Arbitration Chamber. Another former TozziniFreire associate rejoined the firm after his two-year stint with the international arbitration team at White & Case in New York, working under Paul Friedland and Ank Santens.

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