8 Advantages of Arbitrating Disputes in Portugal

A safe harbour for dispute resolution

Arbitration, in and of itself, has a long-standing history, having been practised by the Greeks and Romans, it is to this day still one of the most sought out methods of dispute resolution. In more recent decades, and alongside globalisation, international arbitration has been vastly growing in popularity for a number of reasons.

It is commonly said that arbitration can be less costly and less time consuming than litigation, especially in terms of international disputes. It is, however, less commonly known that arbitration is also beneficial and comes into play well before a problem may even arise. The decision to use arbitration occurs during the phase of contract negotiation, which also means that the right decisions must also be made from the very beginning in order to take full advantage of this means of dispute resolution.

With the current global climate as it stands, the country, or jurisdiction, one chooses to settle an international arbitration dispute can have heavy implications on the time, outcome, monetary gain, among other important matters. In recent years, Portugal has become an increasingly alluring haven in regards to arbitration dispute resolution.

Below are 8 advantages of choosing Portugal:

1. Geography – situated an ocean away from North and South America, and within close proximity to Africa, and the rest of Europe, Portugal is a central hub for many who come from across the globe. When considering international arbitration between two countries separated by an ocean, such as Brazil and Angola, Portugal may be considered a fair and neutral location.

2. Language – over 250 million people speak the Portuguese language throughout the world and is the 6th most widely spoken language. Portugal also shares a great amount of cultural, economic and legal backgrounds which serve as a common tie between many other countries. Due to this, a large amount of commercial transactions worldwide, deal with Portuguese speaking countries. Recently, Portugal has seen a substantial growth in terms of investment and capital flows, due to larger countries, such as Brazil and Angola viewing Portugal as a safe harbour for their investments.

3. Portuguese Legal Background – the Portuguese Civil Code and Civil Procedure are still in force in Angola. Mozambique, Cape Verde, São Tomé Principe, and Guinea Bissau. These countries very closely follow, to this day, the Portuguese Case Law, meaning that Portuguese law is still very much embedded and relevant within their respective legal systems.

4. Safe and Stable – Portugal is considered to be the safest of all the Portuguese speaking countries. Portuguese people are hospitable and warm by nature. Most Portuguese people speak an intermediate and comprehensive level of English, more so than most of the other European countries, simplifying communication. Due to Portugal being a member of the E.U. this has attracted a high level of foreign investment, especially from other Portuguese speaking countries.

5. Modern Facilities – Portugal is a modern country with many modern infrastructures and facilities. In recent times, Portugal has been considered a spearhead in terms of new technologies and IT solutions. Modern technologies have been also applied to the judicial system. Procedures before state courts are almost entirely managed through web-based platforms. Paperless dockets have been a reality in Portugal for many years now. Arbitration has been benefiting from this new landscape, for example, if one party intends to begin arbitration and needs an interim measure, all that must be done is to file a request via “Citius”, a web-based platform. The request will then arrive at the judge’s desk the following day. This online system works for every arbitration related matter that needs to be dealt with by state courts, with the exception of within courts of appeal and the Supreme Court of Justice.

6. Robust Legal System – Portugal has recently enacted a new arbitration law inspired by Uncitral Model Law. This is a modern law providing for the most in-demand features ranging from the principle of separability of arbitration agreements and the competence of arbitral tribunals to decide on their own competence to the joinder of third parties, as well as the powers that are granted to arbitral tribunals to order interim measures in pending or about to start arbitrations. Arbitral awards in Portugal are final and subject to no appeal. An annulment of the arbitral award may only be granted under very limited and special circumstances. This law also provides for very constricted and limited circumstances under which a foreign arbitral award may be refused recognition and enforcement. Portugal is also a signatory party to the most relevant international treaties related to arbitration, such as the New York Convention and the ICSID Convention. Portugal is also party to around 60 bilateral investment treaties.

7. Supportive State Courts – courts in Portugal consistently adhere to the principle that the arbitral tribunals are competent to decide on their own competency. A number of cases related to swaps show that courts do not hesitate to refer parties to arbitration even in the vent that there exist allegations that these contracts are null for violating public policy. Arbitral tribunals are sufficiently competent to decide on the costs of arbitration, courts will only intervene where excessive situation occur. Arbitral awards are only set aside when there is a violation of public policy or other fundamental principles of arbitration – which is very rare! Internationally accepted standards, such as the IBA Guidelines on conflicts of interests are also applied.

8. Internationally Oriented Community – in Portugal, international standards are applied when dealing with international arbitration cases. International events regularly take place in Portugal and shed new and innovative light on the topic at hand, including the ICC Portugal Arbitration Day, with the second edition having taken place during 2018. Portuguese practitioners also regularly publish articles in English, in order to reach a wider audience. The Portuguese arbitration community is in permanent contact with other communities including the Brazilian, Spanish and French colleagues.

The benefits of choosing Portugal for cases relating to international arbitration resolution go beyond the above-mentioned where the quality and likelihood for a favourable outcome are a high probability.


If you would like more information or have any questions regarding international arbitration in Portugal, please send us an email to info@victoria.associates and we will be in touch as soon as is possible.

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The New Merchants and cross border Dispute Resolution

Trade has always been the driving force for societal changes. The ones willing to brave into the unknown, navigating wild seas searching for the next opportunity – the merchants – reshaped our cross-border relations, contributing to global development and along this path changing the rule of law as such. 

Based on once upcoming new challenges, a special kind of law emerged, structured upon customs, good practices, and contracts, the lex mercatoria, was a truly global law. Since then, it has been in constant development, sustained by the autonomy of the will, by the agreements which transcends national legal boundaries and local legal systems.

Surely, as any kind of commercial relation, issues might arise, and as such with traditional legal systems, this global rule of law urged for a dispute resolution mechanism. Henceforth, International Arbitration came into the scene, providing a path to fulfill those needs and solve legal disputes, in a state independent way – delivering a decision-making procedure to those fast-paced advances of a truly global law. Later on, with the Pélissier du Besset case, or the Unidroit principles, even the states recognized a new legal order applicable to cross-border demands.

Along this path, the New York convention of 1958 represented a great achievement, where once adamant sovereign states decided to recognize and accept Arbitration decisions, even enforcing arbitral awards inside their borders – becoming a key instrument for international arbitration. Contracts and Arbitrations are and always will be deeply connected, as part of an autopoietic – state independent – legal system.

Nonetheless, society continued to change, and as such a mirror held up against life, law also changed and adjusted itself to the new reality.

We are living on an algorithm and data-driven world, on a place where international contracts are established a “click” away. Whether purchasing something on eBay or “buying” copyrights on YouTube, our instruments to develop global business became substantially more dynamic and complex (yet simple). Platforms as such eBay are bringing to international commercial contracts, foreign exchange agreements, global payments schemas, and to supply chain conditions, the simplicity of “button push” (or a declaration of “I Consent”).

Most likely traditional state law is no longer able to frame and embrace those advances, providing a satisfactory and efficient dispute resolution system. Thus, international institutional or ad hoc disputes resolution mechanism are taking back the stand, providing a newly reinterpreted simplified commercial arbitration, providing the means to solve those “complex” commercial matters under eBay’s Dispute resolution system, or intellectual property disputes at YouTube’s “Content ID” dispute system, as simple examples.

We are the new merchants, now navigating through the wild and unknown seas of technology. As such, our legal needs are being adjusted to and by disruptive technologies, and new solutions are needed in order to provide us the tools to do business on this cosmopolitan, connected and global legal society. Those are simple examples and daily situations, but what about the complex corporate ones?

Victoria Associates has been forged inside this context. Created by and from the global context and aligning different minds from various expertise and legal systems.

Our highly innovative and experienced professionals are a joint global effort to provide your business with the vessel necessary to navigate into the tortuous and complex waters of global dispute resolution, providing the tools and the knowledge to solve the most complex disputes that might arise in your quest for profit beyond state borders. Born in the land of the great explorers, we can guide you through the toughest disputes.

Please contact us if you have any question – info@victoria.associates