Finding new ways to resolve Portuguese disputes

The Portuguese courts may have already
been running at over-capacity before the
onset of the financial downturn, but
efforts are at least now being made to
make litigation more efficient, and to
encourage alternative dispute resolution
mechanisms, says José Maria Corrêa de
Sampaio, litigation partner with Abreu

‘The crisis has not brought anything
new, but it is at least helping to drive new
initiatives in IT and document
management in the courts, and the
attraction of new arbitration centres –
clients notably seem more willing to
include arbitration clauses in their
commercial agreements.’

Los Tribunales
portugueses pueden ser
dolorosamente lentos pero
se están haciendo
esfuerzos para mejorar su
eficiencia a través del uso
de IT, así­ como promover
mecanismos de resolución
alternativa de conflictos,
dicen José Maria Corrña
de Sampaio y Leonor
Chastre de Abreu

The impact of such clauses may not be
felt immediately, if at all, but efforts are
already being made to promote
arbitration for disputes involving public
authorities, and parties in litigation can
already now access court records and
lodge documents electronically, which is
beginning to help speed up judicial

‘We will also likely this year see new
arbitration mechanisms for disputes with
the national tax authority, which is a
government initiative launched as a result
of their own dissatisfaction with the
slowness of the courts,’ he says.

Last year also saw the first cases settled
through Portugal’s new intellectual
property (IP) arbitration centre,
ARBITRARE, says Leonor Chastre, IP
partner with Abreu Advogados. ‘The
process still needs to be refined as issues
emerged around the quality of the
decision-making in some early cases, but
as Portugal still lacks dedicated IP courts
it is nonetheless an encouraging

Clients should also note that mediation
may not be a formal part of the dispute
litigation process in Portugal, lawyers will
inevitably seek to negotiate a resolution,
even after the onset of litigation or
arbitration, says Corrña de Sampaio.

‘Despite the procedural issues that can
still delay litigation clients should not
however be afraid of resorting to the
courts. We will try all we can to resolve a
dispute, and explore options such as
negotiation or arbitration, but for those
that do enter litigation in the courts
patience is essential.’