Resolving Disputes in International Distribution Agreements in Portugal

Summary

This post addresses very briefly the mechanisms to solve international disputes, in Portugal, in the context of international distribution and agency agreements.

In order to solve disputes, suppliers and distributors have at their disposal all means of dispute resolution, including judicial litigation and other alternative means of resolution (e.g., arbitration, mediation or negotiation). Other remedies may include notifications to the Portuguese Competition Authority or to the Economic and Food Safety Authority.

Litigation

Under European Regulation (EU) No. 1215/2012, foreign companies may bring a judicial proceeding before the Portuguese courts if an agreement conferring jurisdiction has been concluded (according to article 25).

Such agreement attributing jurisdiction must be concluded: (a) in writing or verbally with written confirmation; (b) in a form which accords with practices which the parties have established between themselves; or (c) in international trade or commerce, in accordance with a usage of which the parties are or ought to have been aware and which in such trade or commerce is widely known to, and regularly observed by, parties to contracts of the same type in the particular trade or commerce concerned.

However, this Regulation applies only to member state and to civil and commercial matters, in this sense points out Article 6 of the European Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012.

Arbitration

As mentioned, it is possible to resort to alternative means of dispute resolution, requiring the existence of an arbitration agreement for this purpose. As to this specific scenario, parties may agree to submit to arbitration, thus requiring the intervention of an impartial decision maker.

The arbitration agreement should adopt written form, as the requirement being deemed to be met when the agreement is contained in a written document signed by the parties. A typical advantage of arbitration is that the award is enforceable in far more countries than court judgments considering the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. When settling their disputes through arbitration in Portugal, parties are granted full confidentiality and, in general, such proceedings are faster than judicial proceedings; plus, the experience and expertise of arbitrators may contribute to a more suitable decision.

Learn more

To know more, please read the Portuguese chapter of the Lexology “Getting the Deal Through” guide “Distribution & Agency 2021”, submitted by the Portuguese team of Victoria Associates (available here).

Victoria Associates has successfully represented clients in disputes related to distribution contractual relationships and welcomes any question that may arise in this context (info@victoria.associates).

Victoria Associates

Team:

Duarte G Henriques – duarte@victoria.associates

João Nuno Frazão – joao@victoria.associates

Maria Teresa Silva – teresa@victoria.associates

Onwards to the Future…

Movies from the last century looked up to the year 2000 as the beginning of a futuristic era in which high technology is a central element of human life. Drones, smart phones, tablets, mobile payment technology, biometric devices, wearable technology, video calls, and time travel are some examples among the rich variety of frontier technology that we could only imagine through the media back in the day. And while traveling in time remains quite improbable today, the rest of the items in the list became a reality—one that outshines the most sophisticated movie props. But what’s puzzling about these (otherwise accurate) accounts about the “future” is that by and large 20th-century pop culture failed to tell a story about the major forces that give life to all modern tangible manifestations of tech: software and the internet.

This failure, however, was also our own in that we didn’t seem to anticipate the many implications that a pervasive reliance on technology would entail for our societies. Confronted with the current technological revolution, our governments and legal systems have only been able to react to the new realities, oftentimes with tardy and insufficient regulation. Thankfully, the pressure that the civil society (including the independent legal and technological communities) and academia has exerted has also informed—and to a certain extent influenced—Big Tech’s corporate social responsibility and self-regulatory efforts. Nevertheless, as a result of the lack of a more adequate legal regulatory framework, personal rights of all sorts still appear vulnerable to the unintended consequences of an industry that remains largely underregulated.

To focus on the missing narrative on software and the internet is of course an oversimplification of the problems that today lie at the intersection of law, technology, and ethics. After decades of widespread internet use (i.e., social media, e-commerce, streaming, etc.) Big Tech, service providers, and almost anyone who cares about predicting future consumer behavior didn’t miss out on the opportunity to store huge amounts of behavioral and personal data drawn from online interactions of all sorts. These stakeholders are now using the resulting body of data—Big Data—in conjunction with complex algorithms to design and train software that is capable of performing activities typically associated with humans. The result is the so-called Artificial Intelligence (AI), part of a true technological revolution in which other cutting-edge technology such as Blockchain (BC) and the Internet of Things (IoT) converge, and which have been used to disrupt entire industries and to change our lives for good… or bad.

This AI-BC-IoT triumvirate is associated with the Big Tech’s market dominance and evokes the coolest side of technology. One aspect, however, that is less often discussed is the application of these technologies to the governmental activity, the law, and the judiciary. To name a few examples, government agencies are now adapting AI solutions relying on vast databases to efficiently manage risks associated with the maintenance and upgrade of all sorts of hardware (from buildings to aircraft) and software programs (for example, firewall programs). Likewise, business parties can enter into self-enforceable “smart-contracts” on the Blockchain that can include some type collateralization (i.e., escrow) as well as blockchain-based dispute resolution clauses that provide for the efficient adjudication of amounts at stake in case of contractual breach. Finally, a handful—but growing—number of courts are employing these new technologies to classify incoming filings, extract relevant information resulting in automatic docketing of documents and a significant reduction on the average life cycle of a case.

But not everything is cool about tech. There are more than a handful of notorious examples of use cases where AI and the other technologies have gone wrong. One such example involves the use by courts of certain algorithms to determine recidivism rates among criminals in order to inform judicial decisions about whether to grant bail in specific cases. Because AI is only as good as the data it’s built upon, and because nothing really has prevented humans from transferring their old biases to the machines, AI-based systems used in the bail-setting example have discriminated among groups group of past offenders, labeling the members of certain race as more prone to recidivism than members of other groups.

The lawyers at Victoria Associates are conscious that a convergence of law and technology will soon encompass most aspects of the law and our practice. Given the inevitable dangers of this convergence for the legal system, lawyers have a double duty to embrace the tech revolution and also to influence how it is implemented in the legal field. This duty exceeds the matters that we handle and requires an interdisciplinary involvement of each of us in the current debate about the use of the new technologies in the legal system. 

In this spirit, Duarte Henriques and Luis Bergolla serve, respectively as co-chair and member, on the Task Force on Tech Disputes, Tech Companies & International Arbitration of the Silicon Valley Arbitration & Mediation Center. This task force seeks to explore the reasons for the apparent under-use of arbitration by global technology companies and to offer solutions and to offer a bundle of tools that could help the arbitration community better serve technology companies.

Miguel Salas is also leading a similar and perhaps more ambitious project in Spain. Recently launched in the middle of a global pandemic, the Foundation for the Legal Artificial Intelligence—FIAL—is an advanced tech think-tank that seeks to generate knowledge for the implementation of AI-based decision-making processes in existing judicial, administrative and conflict resolution systems. Since its inception, Duarte Henriques and Luis Bergolla both serve on FIAL’s academic advisory board.

Matheus Puppe Magalhāes and Luis Bergolla are also active independent researchers in the field of law and tech and their work focuses on disruptive technologies, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain-based arbitration.

Contact us at info@victoria.associates to learn more about our industry-specific know-how and dispute resolution philosophy.

SVAMC Task Force on Tech Disputes, Tech Companies & International Arbitration

Victoria Associates’ Member Duarte G Henriques is co-chairing the Silicon Valley Arbitration and Mediation Center Task Force on Tech Disputes, Tech Companies & International ArbitrationThe Silicon Valley Arbitration and Mediation Center (SVAMC), a not-for-profit “think tank” organization with a global focus that encourages the use of alternative dispute resolution in the technology sector, has established this Task Force on Tech Disputes, Tech Companies & International Arbitration (the “Task Force”).

The Task Force, which is led by Paul Cohen, Duarte Henriques and Patricia Shaughnessy, seeks to explore the apparent underrepresentation of global technology companies in the arbitration community.

The lack of use of arbitration by this resourceful industry puzzles as arbitration would seem to offer a particularly attractive dispute resolution mechanism for technology company disputes. Unlike litigation, arbitration offers expeditious, private, flexible, effective adjudication by specialized arbitrators resulting in awards enforceable in 162 countries. The Task Force aims to find out why this is so through a comprehensive study using reliable methodologies and engaging in dialog with technology companies and other relevant players in the sector. Through the study and dialog with leaders and lawyers in the tech sector, the arbitration community can learn how to better serve this sector, as well as share needed information about the process and opportunities that arbitration may offer.

The Task Force also envisages to offer a bundle of tools that can make the use of arbitration more friendly for those who may be less familiar with its advantages, are accustomed to state court litigation, or have some negative impressions of arbitration.As a starting point, the Task Force has ventured some initial premises that may underlie the underuse of arbitration by technology companies; these premises are discussed in the White Paper.

The Task Force will test and adjust these premises through research, a large-scale survey, and dialog with the tech sector. A diverse working-group of experts representing different backgrounds and regions will be enlisted to carry-out the work. The on-going work of the Task Force will be presented for public discussion and comment to ensure robust review and to enhance collaboration within the arbitration and the technology business communities.

The Task Force report will become a public document which can serve to explain and adapt arbitration to technology companies needs and to inform the tech industry about the suitability of arbitration for effectively resolving their disputes.

Co-Chairs:

Patricia Shaughnessy

Paul Cohen

Duarte G. Henriques

Download the white paper HERE

“Costs and Fees” in International Arbitration in Portugal

Victoria Associates member Duarte G Henriques authors the Chapter “Costs and Fees” in the book “International Arbitration in Portugal”, André Pereira da Fonseca et al. eds., Wolters Kluwer, 2020.

How much is this going to cost me?

This is the first question one asks when thinking about initiating an arbitration.

The article “Costs and Fees” endeavours to answer that question regarding the Portuguese arbitration practice and legal framework. The article addresses the costs in ad hoc arbitration, as well as in the most relevant Portuguese arbitral institution, the recoverability of those costs and the different criteria that may be used to decide upon that issue.

Katie Hyman & João Nuno Frazão Join Victoria Associates

It is our pleasure to announce the Victoria Associates’ new members. Katie Hyman, based in Washington DC, and João Nuno Frazão, based in Lisbon joined Victoria Associates as of September 2020.

Katie Hyman is dual-qualified as an English solicitor and New York attorney and is admitted as a special legal consultant in the District of Columbia. She is widely experienced in international dispute resolution, including multijurisdictional, offshore and investor-state matters.

Katie represents a variety of clients, including in the energy and telecoms industries, in high-value, complex international commercial arbitration proceedings under the major arbitral rules all over the world, as well as in investor-state arbitrations. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and accepts arbitrator appointments in addition to her practice as counsel.

With this addition, Victoria Associates has now offices in Washington D.C.

João Nuno Frazão is a lawyer qualified in Portugal, admitted to the Portuguese Bar Assocation in 2016. João is a PhD candidate at Nova School of Law, with research focused on Space Law, International Law and European Law.

Duarte G Henriques ranked as “Thought Leader – Arbitration 2020″by Who’s Who Legal

Duarte G Henriques has been ranked as “Thought Leader – Arbitration 2020” by Who’s Who Legal.

Check HERE for more information.

According to Who’s Who Legal, the “Thought Leadership” “brings together the insight, expertise and wisdom of some of the world’s foremost arbitrators, counsel and expert witnesses in a single book (…). The featured individuals obtained the biggest number of nominations from peers, corporate counsel and other market sources in our most recent research cycle.”

WWL Thought Leaders : Arbitration 2020 features Q&As with some of the “leaders”. The interview with Duarte G Henriques is available HERE.

“Through interviews with the practitioners themselves, Thought Leaders – Arbitration aims to shine a light on what puts these practitioners at the apogee of global arbitration. These individuals are worthy of special mention owing not only to their vast expertise and experience advising on some of the world’s most significant and cutting-edge disputes, but also their ability to innovate and inspire.”

Duarte G Henriques has been recommended by Who’s Who Legal as “an outstanding practitioner” who is well versed as both counsel and arbitrator in investment, banking, finance and construction disputes.

Kyriaki Noussia and Ted Folkman Join Victoria Associates

Victoria Associates welcome new members Kyriaki Noussia and Ted Folkman.

With the addition of Kyriaki and Ted (alongside Miguel Salas’ joining in April), Victoria Associates has now three new “ports” for our international practice (Athens, Boston and Seville).

Kyriaki, Ted and Miguel will contribute immensely to growing Victoria Associates’ wealth of knowledge and expertise in their respective areas. Further, Victoria Associates is also increasing the number of areas of the law where we can deliver services, such as oil and gas, shipping and insurance.

Kyriaki Noussia

Kyriaki Noussia

Dr. Kyriaki Noussia is a Greek Lawyer, an Arbitrator and an Academic (Senior Lecturer in Law (Law School, University of Exeter, UK). She is a admitted to the Athens Bar (Greece) and licensed to appear in front of the Greek Supreme Court (Areos Pagos) and the Greek Conseil d’ Etat (Supreme Administrative Court). She has extensive experience in dispute resolution and arbitration and has regularly advised and acted on matters in various areas of law, most notably insurance, reinsurance, shipping, energy, environmental, construction and investment law. Later acquired expertise includes the area of Law and Technology, such as issues relating to robotics and the law, the ethics of AI and the law, the regulation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its application in various industries and sectors as well as cybersecurity issues.  

Theodore J. Folkman

Ted Folkman

Theodore J. Folkman, a Boston lawyer, has twenty years of experience in civil and commercial litigation and arbitration and serves as a commercial arbitrator. He is widely regarded for his expertise in private international law and international judicial assistance.

Ted is experienced in complex civil and commercial litigation and arbitration, with a special emphasis in cross-border disputes, US judicial assistance in aid of proceedings abroad, and foreign sovereign immunity.

How Victoria Associates is boosting my international practice

How Victoria Associates is boosting my international practice

By Duarte G Henriques

Perhaps the biggest challenge that I face as an international arbitration practitioner is myself. As you all may know, I’m born, brought up and educated in Portugal and in Portuguese law (or, from a negative point of view, I wasn’t born or educated in an English environment). 
This can represent a major hindrance for an international career. Let’s face it: in the international disputes arena, Portugal is largely peripheral; and if one doesn’t speak English at native level or if one isn’t educated in a common law system, the chances of getting appointments as arbitrator or being retained for arbitration cases located outside Portugal, are rather minimal. 

You have to take the cards you are dealt and the key is to take advantage of the situation and make it into a strong point as Portugal has done in various contexts such as the United Nations and the European Union. The Portuguese are known for their willingness to leave their comfort zone and explore the world taking advantage of what it offers to those who are hardy and courageous. Our people are known to be hard working, fair and reasonable. That is why I feel so comfortable being a part of Victoria Associates.

Having invested “tons” of hours in training and developed “international” skills throughout the years (which, in any event, has brought me very interesting international cases where I’ve been acted as counsel or arbitrator), the founding of Victoria Associates has been simply spectacular. 

Since the beginning of 2020, I’ve been approached a number of times to represent new clients and to serve as arbitrator in international cases. None related Portugal. No Portuguese language or seat, nor even the law of Portugal (or other Portuguese speaking countries). Truly international cases. 

Just to point out two recent cases, since January 2020 I was appointed as co-arbitrator and chairman in two arbitrations seated in Hong Kong (one “institutional” and the other “ad hoc”), the other arbitrators coming from London, Perth (coincidentally two of them), Hong Kong and Singapore. The parties come from different corners of the world. English law applies to both cases. And, it goes without saying, English is the language of the proceedings. 

Now, how did I accomplish that? Many factors contributed but Victoria Associates is the crowning touch, the factor which brings everything together.

Indeed, with the different international backgrounds and educations, and global reach, the members of Victoria Associates can work virtually everywhere, out of any country and under any law. 

All VA members embarked on this new venture with passion: We do what we like, and we like what we do!

And share the risks and rewards with our clients. 

Victoria Associates is already a tale of success, in spite of these troubled times. So it is more than appropriate to say: 

Embark with us!!!

Victoria Associates Welcomes Miguel Salas and Sevilla !

Victoria’s reaching the starting point!

We are thrilled to share our latest news with you!

Victoria Associates has reached the starting point and is adding an office where it all has begun. Indeed, the expedition of Ferdinand Magellan truly begun in Sevilla, then the capital city of Castilla (Spain). Victoria was the only ship to return safely to its departure harbour, some three years later.

Now, Victoria Associates is proud to announce that it has an office in Seville, in one of its premium locations and just across the “Catedral de Sevilla” and the “Archivo General de Indias“.(1)

Through the incorporation of its new member, Miguel Salas, founder partner of Salas y Donaire, Victoria Associates is expanding its reach and is now able to provide any kind of services related to international disputes in Spain.

Miguel Salas is a seasoned lawyer, with 25+ years of experience, dealing in a number of areas of law, particularly litigation and arbitration.

With this addition, Victoria Associates not only boosts its reach but also and more importantly is welcoming a lawyer truly embedded in its spirit and values. It will surely be a tremendous and rewarding experience!

Bienvenido Miguel, bienvenida Sevilla,

¡ OLÉ !


(1) The General Archive of the Indies in Seville was founded in 1785 by King Carlos III, with the aim of centralising in a single place the documentation relating to the administration of the Spanish overseas territories that had been dispersed in various archives.

The archive conserves some 43,000 files, with some 80 million pages and 8,000 maps and drawings that come mainly from the entities responsible for the administration of the overseas territories. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987, along with the Cathedral and the Real Alcázar.