A Brazilian leader in construction disputes
|People in Who’s Who Legal:||2|
|Pending cases as counsel:||20|
|Value of pending counsel work:||US$1 billion+|
|Current arbitrator appointments:||24 (of which 15 are as sole or chair)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator:||2|
Pinheiro Neto was one of the first firms to see the opportunities of arbitration in Brazil, and early investment in the team and its development has been paying off. GAR’s sister title Latin Lawyer 250 describes the arbitration group as “the best of any of the full-service firms and a real competitor for any of the players in the market.”
The firm’s arbitration practice head, Gilberto Giusti, led the team in a handful of international arbitrations and proceedings for the recognition of foreign awards before Brazil’s 1996 Arbitration Act came into force. While the Act was mired in a five-year debate on its constitutionality, the pace of the team’s work increased, reaching a more constant flow of matters after the Supreme Court finally blessed the legislation. All the while Giusti was leading a study group on international arbitration, whose activities were intensifying.
In 2007, the firm made a serious bid to internationalise the practice, bringing on board Renato Stephan Grion, a former assistant general counsel at the ICC Court in Paris. He featured in GAR’s most recent “45 under 45” in 2011 and was promoted to partner in 2013. Grion and Giusti both sit as arbitrators in domestic and international cases.
Giusti is a former member of the LCIA Court and sits on the executive council of CBar, the Brazilian Arbitration Committee. He is also involved with the AAA, ITA and the Brazil–Canada Chamber of Commerce Arbitration Centre.
Pinheiro Neto’s arbitration team is concentrated in São Paulo, with a smaller contingent in Rio de Janeiro. The firm also has an office in the country’s capital, Brasília.
Who uses it?
Mainly energy and construction companies: Duke Energy, Chevron, General Electric, AES, Chevron, Alstom, Siemens, Tecnimont, Carrefour and EDP have all used the firm on arbitrations or related court proceedings. Other clients include Brazilian pulp-maker Aracruz (now known as Fibria), and engineering group Schahin.
In 2007, the team represented Paraná state power company Copel in a highly publicised US$850 million arbitration with the United States’ El Paso over a thermoelectric plant. The case won the disputes category in Latin Lawyer’s “Deal of the Year” awards.
For AES, it managed to win the dismissal of a US$15 million claim. It also helped Aracruz settle a US$70 million dispute that had threatened to go to arbitration.
In 2013, the firm obtained a favourable ICC award for a German client in a US$28 million dispute with a Brazilian company regarding the transfer of technology and export of products to Brazil.
That year, the firm also achieved success for a creditor client in an ICC claim brought by a Brazilian dairy company seeking to annul a debt restructuring deal. The case is worth US$80 million.
In the past year, the firm has acted in a pair of arbitrations relating to the construction of an arena, involving claims of over US$600 million; and has represented a European company in a US$250 million claim concerning the construction of various power plants.
Giovanni Pagnacco, senior counsel at Italian engineering contractor Maire Tecnimont, describes Pinheiro Neto as “a very well-known big Brazilian law firm to be recommended for international arbitrations in Brazil”. Competence and responsiveness are among the firm’s strengths, he says.