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GAR 100 - 5th Edition

Wald e Associados Advogados

05 March 2012

As is by now well known, Brazil’s arbitration law had some question marks hanging over it during its early years. Arnoldo Wald, and the mid-sized firm that bears his name, played a disproportionately large part in removing them.

People in Who’s Who:
1
Pending cases as counsel:
12
Value of pending counsel work:
US$3 billion
Treaty cases:
0
Current arbitrator appointments:
0

The firm, now 50 years old, built its business through disputes work, although it is now just as well known in insolvency and restructuring.

A former attorney general for the state of Rio de Janeiro, Wald wrote one of the standard texts on arbitration law and teaches it at Rio State University. He is also Brazil’s member of the ICC Court and – in the words of the Latin Lawyer 250 – is “without doubt one of Brazil’s leading arbitration practitioners” and a “truly great arbitrator” whose practice has “begun to transcend his home nation”.

And he works all around the world now. He told GAR a story once about how he and two other arbitrators were nearly imprisoned by an African state for continuing to hear a dispute, in contempt of a local judicial order. (The parties eventually settled and gave the tribunal a bottle of champagne to thank them for carrying on in spite of the order, because the settlement would never have been reached if hearings weren’t looming.)

Among the younger generation, Rodrigo Garcia da Fonseca is the editor-in-chief of the main national arbitration review, Revista de Arbitragem e Mediação, one of Wald’s creations.

Wald’s son, Arnoldo Wald Filho, chairs the arbitration committee of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB), and Ana Gerdau de Borja is one of the coordinators of the investment arbitration group of the Brazilian Arbitration Committee (CBAr).

Arbitration clients include Latin America health-care provider Saúde ABC, Brazil’s Central Bank, Petrobras subsidiary Brasoil and various US energy groups.

The firm has offices in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Brasília.

Track record

Wald and colleagues were on the team on the successful side in AES Urugaiana v CEEE, the landmark decision holding that Brazilian state-owned entities can be bound by arbitration clauses. In another seminal case, the team defended an ICC award won by Renault in New York against its Brazilian distributor, CAOA. The award faced a succession of challenges in the Brazilian courts from 2002 to 2008. (Other firms also advised Renault on the same case.)

With White & Case, Wald e Associados helped negotiate a settlement between Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht and the government of Ecuador in October 2010, marking the end of a US$250 million arbitral claim brought by the state over a hydropower project.

Recent events

The firm recently helped Brazil’s minister of finance and the president of the Brazilian Central Bank in an application before the federal courts seeking the annulment of an arbitration clause in a deposit facility agreement to restructure Brazil’s US$100 billion public debt.

It is also currently representing a French company before the Superior Court of Justice in a case that echoes the Putrabali and Hilmarton scenario: an application for enforcement of a US$200 million award that has been set aside in the seat of the arbitration. It will be the first case of its type in Brazil.

Client comment

A client of Wald’s described to Latin Lawyer recently how he is appreciated not only for his skill, but also his long experience in the market and his approachability: “We see him as an ‘old-school’ type of lawyer (in a positive way); someone who we can talk to about any legal issue, just to pick his brains, to brainstorm.”

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