The Legal 500

Portugal

Editorial

Legal market overview

The €6bn recapitalisation of Portugal’s banking system has now concluded for all institutions except Banif. Vieira de Almeida & Associados advised the Portuguese state throughout, with Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados, Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira, Garrigues and Linklaters LLP acting for banks at various points in the process.

Though very slight growth was reported in 2013, the economy remains largely unchanged, with legal work dominated by distressed transactions. This, in turn, has encouraged greater specialisation, particularly within insolvency. Wide-reaching labour and HR repercussions of corporate restructurings have also created new challenges, and CMS has demonstrated particular strength in this area.

In response to domestic market conditions, firms are increasingly focusing on foreign jurisdictions – particularly Mozambique and Angola – with Brazil and China following close behind. Benefiting from its fluid, global structure, Linklaters LLP has expanded its activity in Lusophone Africa. Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados created a specialist Africa desk in 2012, and PLMJ – A. M. Pereira, Sáragga Leal, Oliveira Martins, Júdice e Associados, Sociedade de Advogados, RL and Sérvulo & Associados have also developed their presence in the continent. Drawing on strong international foundations, SRS Advogados’ dual-qualified team has been active across Europe, Asia, the US and Latin America.

There has been a marked increase in financial regulation, and resultant litigation. Swaps-related disputes between the state and multiple institutions are close to conclusion. Pharmaceutical patent actions also remain a major trend, with Pfizer’s ongoing proceedings over Viagra being a significant example. On the public side, Portugal’s wide-reaching privatisation programme is nearing completion, with the postal service’s approaching reconstitution set to follow a similar model to the UK. Stagnating PPP activity has, once again, encouraged law firms to take their expertise into new territories, particularly in Africa, acting for public and private sector clients.

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