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.
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.
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Duarte G Henriques – email@example.com
João Nuno Frazão – firstname.lastname@example.org
Maria Teresa Silva – email@example.com