GAR 100 - 16th Edition



Professional notice

Instructed to bring the first known investment treaty claim against Portugal

People in Who’s Who Legal2
People in Future Leaders2
Pending cases as counsel22
Value of pending counsel workUS$1.5 billion
Treaty cases as counsel1
Third-party funded cases0
Current arbitrator appointments15 (6 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator6

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 200 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. Metello de Nápoles now co-heads the practice with Joaquim Shearman de Macedo. 


Most of the team is based in Lisbon or 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 and Angola.

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; it previously defended Mozambique against a US$450 million claim brought by the former holder of a public infrastructure concession, and is representing Cape Verde.

Other clients include hedge fund managers Elliott Advisors and Attestor, Portuguese oil & gas company Galp, and private equity firms Ardian and Oxy Capital. It has also represented clients in aviation arbitrations, acting for Kenya Airways, Cypriot-based Cobalt Air and Portuguese 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 two disputes arising out of its purchase of the Portuguese Bank of Business after its nationalisation in 2008. In both cases, the tribunal found in favour of Banco BIC, awarding more than two-thirds of the claimed US$100 million.

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

In another ad hoc arbitration, the firm advised Ingka Holding, IKEA’s parent company, in a dispute with a constructor over an international joint venture for a shopping centre in the Algarve. The tribunal dismissed the constructor’s claims for payment and awarded part of Ingka’s counterclaims, citing penalties, defects and works not done.

Recent events

The firm was instructed by three companies owned by US hedge funds Silver Point Capital and Elliott Management in the first known investment treaty claim against Portugal. The case concerns alleged violations of the Mauritius-Portugal BIT.

It is representing Angolan phone company Movicel Telecomunicações as respondent in an ICC claim against Ericsson and an LCIA dispute against ZTE. The disputes concern agreements to supply and provide services related to telecommunication equipment and have a combined value of more than US$150 million.

It represented Cape Verde in a US$73 million ICC claim brought by Icelandic-owned Loftleidir in Cape Verde, concerning the renationalisation of the African island nation’s flag carrier. The case was settled on favourable terms to the state in May 2022.

It is representing French telecoms company Altice in a €130 million ad hoc arbitration brought by Vodafone regarding an alleged breach of a joint venture agreement for the construction of a shared fibre broadband network.

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 €30 million.

PLMJ advised Portuguese government ministries in an ad hoc arbitration over a hydroelectric dam brought by Lisbon-based utility EDP Group. The case led to a €217 million award in favour of EDP in 2022.

Ricardo Silva Pereira joined the firm as senior counsel in June 2022. Telma Pires de Lima was promoted to senior counsel.

Client comment

Belarmino Lucas of Electra says the firm has “deep knowledge of arbitration rules and practices” and displays “total commitment to the client and the case”.

A partner at a co-counselling firm describes PLMJ’s team as “highly professional and responsive” and “a joy to work with”.

Clients have also praised Metello de Nápoles for his “expertise, competence, diligence and organizational skills” and Shearman de Macedo for his “profound knowledge of the applicable law”.

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 25 lawyers, including 10 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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