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GAR 100 - 9th Edition

Morais Leitão Galvão Teles Soares da Silva & Associados

18 February 2016

An influential name partner passed away in 2015

Pending cases as counsel: 11
Value of pending counsel work: US$800 million
Current arbitrator appointments: 11 (of which 5 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator: 4

Morais Leitão Galvão Teles Soares da Silva 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 bringing experience of appearing in inter-state disputes before the ICJ.

Teles sadly passed away in 2015.The firm’s remaining international arbitration team consists of five partners led by António Pinto Leite, president of the Portuguese national committee of the ICC International Court of Arbitration.

A number 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; Filipe Vaz Pinto took part in the drafting of the new 2014 rules of the Commercial Arbitration Centre of the Portuguese Chamber of Industry and Commerce; and Miguel de Almada played a role in establishing another local institution, the Concórdia Arbitration Centre, in late 2014, including helping to prepare its arbitration rules.


The firm has offices in Lisbon, Porto and Funchal (in Madeira), as well as associations with local firms in other Portuguese-speaking territories such as Angola, Macao and Mozambique. 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 sector, where its clients include Redes Energéticas Nacionais (REN), the operator of Portugal’s national electricity and gas services, and Energias de Portugal.

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.

The firm is advising Beira Railroad Corporation in a dispute with Mozambique over the termination of a US$500 million contract to update and operate a railway system, and defence company General Dynamics European Land Systems in a contract dispute.

It also acts for a number of financial services clients, including the European Investment Bank, Caixa BI, Santander and Crédit Foncier de France. In the pharmaceutical sector, it has acted for Teva and SK Chemical.

Track record

In 2014, the firm clinched a US$90 million award in a dispute between the shareholders of a toll road concessionaire in Portugal – two major Portuguese and Spanish construction companies (MSF and Somague), and a consortium of international and Portuguese banks (including the European Investment Bank, CGD and Royal Bank of Scotland) – over the shareholders’ obligation to make equity contributions.

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.

In 2012, Morais Leitão achieved a US$140 million win in a case between a water supply concessionaire (at the time controlled by Spain’s Sacyr Group) and a local municipality. The award is now the subject of Portuguese court proceedings.

Another win came for REN in a dispute with Galp Energia related to the unbundling of the natural gas sector in Portugal.

Recent events

The last year saw Pinto Leite appointed as the Portuguese member of the ICC Court of International Arbitration. With both Leitão and Teles appointed previously, it means that three of the last four holders of the role have been Morais Leitão lawyers.

The firm reports a successful settlement of high profile dispute between an unnamed state and American defence company General Dynamics, that included an arbitration worth more than 270 million euros.

There was also a successful final award in a dispute between a utility company and the owner of a co-generation plan worth around US$7 million.

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