Why arbitrate your dispute in Portugal?

Why should one think of Portugal as a seat for arbitration ?

In this short post, we provide a few reasons why one should have a Portuguese seated arbitration. It’s not only the common language background that places Portugal as one of the best seats to arbitrate a dispute, especially if it involves a Portuguese element. To be sure, the Portuguese language is an unquestionable advantage.

However, in view of all the other factors used to assess if any given place is a safe harbour for arbitration, Portuguese arbitration is no worse than arbitration in any other place, including the most prominent seats.

Let’s look at those reasons.


Around 250 million people speak Portuguese (the 6th most widely spoken language).

The language heritage provides shared cultural, historic, and legal backgrounds.

Legal framework 

The Portuguese Civil Code is still in force in Angola (except for the Family Law Chapter), Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé e Príncipe, Mozambique.

The arbitration laws in Portuguese speaking countries generally follow the old Portuguese Arbitration Law (Law n.º 31/86 of 29 August 1986), except for Brazil and Guinea-Bissau.

Investments in Portugal 

Investment opportunities in Portuguese speaking countries are bubbling, including in the energy and oil & gas sectors.

More specifically, because Portugal is a country member of the European Union, many foreign investors (particularly from Angola and Brazil) choose Portugal as doorway but end up indefinitely locating their investments in Portugal. This is mostly due to the friendliness of the Portuguese people, who provide a welcoming environment for foreign visitors. Furthermore, investors tend to find the Portuguese tax system much more investor-friendly than in any other member State in the EU territory.

The “One Belt One Road” Chinese programme provides for a road from “Lobito” (Angola) to Dar-es-Salam.

In addition, if one thinks that hospitality is a synonym to warmth, professionalism, and competence, then one can say that the Portuguese people are very hospitable to investors and foreigners.

Modern facilities and IT support

Since the late 90’s, Portugal entered into a renovation and modernisation program of its infrastructures, including court premises. The judicial system is supported by a modern IT infrastructure, that allows almost every lawsuit to be managed online by court judges, court clerks and counsel.

Almost every court judge will take witness depositions via video-conferencing, including by Skype and other applications.

Portugal has modern arbitration centres and state-of-the-art facilities to manage arbitrations and hold hearings.


Portugal is located between the American, African and European continents, and in the London time zone. Hence, Portugal (with the exception of the Azores islands) is only one hour behind the Central European Time.

Furthermore, due to its location, Portugal has direct flights (to Brazil, US, Canada, and major European cities, including Moscow, to name a few) or one stop connection flights to the major cities in the world. Currently, there is one non-stop flight to Beijing, operating from Lisbon.

Portuguese Arbitration is Arbitration-friendly

Portugal is a very arbitration-friendly destination.

The principles of “Competence-Competence” and separability of the arbitration agreement are robustly settled in Portugal, even in cases such as those related to Swaps, where challenges related to standard form contracts and consumer protection were unsuccessfully raised.

Portuguese courts are also very supportive of arbitration at every stage of the proceedings, including in relation to interim measures, and support in the taking of evidence, just to point out two examples.

For the more, we can say that Portuguese courts hold a pro-recognition of foreign arbitral awards and, conversely, an anti-annulment of domestic awards bias.

Portuguese Arbitration is internationally-orientated

Portuguese lawyers are internationally-oriented, drawing on a large pool of practitioners.

Arbitration is cost-efficient and tailored to the needs of the parties, and generally follows the international practice regarding arbitration.

The most prominent arbitration centres have English language versions, making it easy to browse for everyone.

The Portuguese Arbitration Association (“APA”) is also undertaking substantial efforts to promote Portugal, providing the necessary institutional support to any initiative aimed at promoting Portuguese arbitration internationally.

BCH has been helping foreign clients in arbitrating disputes in Portugal, as well as working abroad with international clients and law firms.

For more information, contact us: BCH.pt/contact-us/