GAR 100 - 14th Edition



Professional notice

Portugal’s largest firm, with a 42-year history in international arbitration

People in Who’s Who Legal2
People in Future Leaders1
Pending cases as counsel18
Value of pending counsel workUS$1.6 billion
Treaty cases as counsel0
Third-party funded cases0
Current arbitrator appointments6 (3 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator3

PLMJ was founded in the late 1960s and now reckons to be Portugal’s largest law firm. It took on its first arbitration in 1979 and has handled more than 150 such cases since. It has the distinction of being the first firm in the country to have appeared as counsel in an ICSID case.

The team was formerly co-led by founding partner José Miguel Júdice, one of the country’s few internationally recognised arbitrators, and Pedro Metello de Nápoles. In 2018, Júdice stepped down from his leadership role, and a year later left the firm to set up shop as an independent arbitrator. Pedro Metello de Nápoles now co-heads the practice with Joaquim Shearman de Macedo. 


Most of the team is based in Lisbon and Porto, but the wider firm has offices or joint ventures in several other Portuguese cities. In addition, it has built up a network of associated firms in Portuguese-speaking countries, of which the most significant for arbitration purposes are Mozambique, Angola and Brazil.

Who uses it?

Portuguese construction companies feature heavily on the client list, often in connection with overseas infrastructure projects. But the firm has international clients too: it has acted for Getma (a unit of French logistics group Necotrans) in a multifront dispute with Guinea; Irish building materials group CRH in an ICC matter; Brazilian piping company Asperbras; and European multinational group Ikea.

The firm also acts for states and previously defended Mozambique against a US$450 million claim brought by the former holder of a public infrastructure concession.

It also represents clients in aviation arbitrations, acting for Kenya Airways, Cypriot-based Cobalt Air and Portugese airliner TAP.

Track record

In 2014, the firm helped Getma win an award for more than €38 million against Guinea in a dispute over a cancelled port concession in Conakry. The case was heard under the rules of OHADA, a pan-African institution based in Ivory Coast. However, the award was set aside by an OHADA court because of a controversy over the arbitrator fees, and was denied enforcement in the US. A parallel ICSID claim was largely dismissed in 2016.

PLMJ obtained a good result in 2011 for CRH as respondent in an ICC case brought by Portuguese conglomerate Semapa (represented by Freshfields) over a call option for shares in a joint venture.

The firm also represented Banco BIC (now known as Eurobic) – an entity in which Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos has a stake – in a dispute arising out of its purchase of the Portuguese Bank of Business after its nationalisation in 2008. The tribunal found in favour of Banco BIC, awarding more than two-thirds of the claimed US$59 million.

Recent events

PLMJ played a supporting role in representing another company associated with dos Santos, Atlantic Ventures, in a US$850 million claim against Angola. In 2020, a Paris-seated tribunal dismissed the claim.

The firm is defending Portuguese government ministries in a €570 million ad hoc arbitration over a hydroelectric dam brought by Lisbon-based utility EDP Group.

PLMJ’s Africa practice includes advising Electra, Cape Verde’s national energy company, as respondent in an ICC claim over the extension of an electric power plant on one of the country’s islands off West Africa. The claim is brought by French construction group Bouygues and is worth over €20 million.

Senior associate Pacôme Ziegler departed the firm to launch his own boutique, Delaloa, while counsel Filipa Cansado Carvalho also left to practise independently.

We support our clients in complex disputes that are critical to their businesses and reputations, and we handle the most sophisticated and sensitive domestic and international cases.

Our dispute resolution practice has a highly specialised team that handles all aspects of litigation, arbitration, and other ADR methods. The team deals with disputes of the most varied nature, representing clients from a wide range of sectors.

We have the most experienced Portuguese arbitration team, with a track-record in excess of 200 cases, most of them international, and our lawyers have leading roles in both domestic and international arbitration organisations.

We represent our clients in commercial and investment arbitrations under the rules of the leading international arbitration centres. Our team has great experience in handling high profile arbitrations seated in Portugal and abroad, with a special focus on the Lusophone countries We handle cases in several languages, with diverse applicable laws. It is also common for us to put together specific, multidisciplinary and even multi-location teams, depending on the nature of the dispute and the needs of our clients, notably through PLMJ Colab, a network of law firms in countries with special cultural and strategic ties to Portugal, such as Angola and Mozambique.

We are a team of more than 20 lawyers, including 9 partners, who act as lawyers or arbitrators. With different nationalities and a presence in Portugal and Africa, our team is able to represent clients in arbitrations in five languages – Portuguese, English, Spanish, French and German. We also have relevant experience as lead counsel and co-counsel with both international law firms and prestigious local legal boutiques.

For additional information, please visit or contact Pedro Metello de Nápoles or Joaquim Shearman de Macedo on +351 213 197 517  or by email to [email protected] and [email protected] .

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