High-Growth African Legal Work Attracts Portugese Firms to Former Colonies

Portugese law firms are increasingly developing international partnerships in the former Portugese colonies of Mozambique and Angola as the preferred business model for their entry into those markets, according to a report in MacauHub and based on the high growth in the two markets.

 

The “Lawyers in Angola and Mozambique,” supplement published in Lisbon by financial daily newspaper Diário Económico, noted that the choice of this model was mainly due to Portuguese lawyers being unable to work directly in Angola and Mozambique, unlike what happens in Brazil.

 

In an interview with the same supplement, the President of the Portuguese Bar Association, Marinho Pinto, called for “barriers to be brought down,” and suggested the creation of a “single rule for Portuguese-speaking lawyers to be able to work in any country with the same language,” pointing to the protocol between Portugal and Brazil as and example.

 

The lawyers consulted by the supplement said that Angola and Mozambique there was a lack of sector-focused laws, unclear or ambiguous legislation, as well as excessive formality and bureaucracy affecting business all despite considerable effort to improve the legal and economic framework.

 

Eduardo Verde Pinho, partner and coordinator of the Africa Team of law firm Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva e Associados, noted amongst recent improvements the Mozambican law establishing the legal framework for competition, inspired by European and Portuguese law and the first amongst Portuguese-speaking African countries.

 

“On the other hand, schemes for private foreign investment guarantee, within certain limits, reasonable stability of the applicable rules, which means that the typical risks of this kind of process – the risk of legislative instability – in terms of investment projects are relatively reduced,” said Verde Pinho.

 

Paulo Farinha Alves, a partner at PLMJ, noted “big reforms,” including those in the fiscal, financial, energy and investments areas, through which Angola and Mozambique are “clearly seeking to respond to the new demands of the global context and opening up of these markets to investment.”

 

The President of the Mozambican Bar Association, Tomás Timbane, told the same publication that making legislation available in a digital format had solved a “longstanding serious problem,” of access to the legislation.

 

“There has been an enormous effort made in terms of legislative production, which, by making it easier to establish the regime that is applicable to each sector, has made for an interesting dynamic,” he said.

 

Portuguese law firms are now focusing on links to Chinese law offices to benefit from the increase in trade between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries, with two new partnerships set up in the last month alone.

McDermott Will & Emery, the Chicago-based law firm with about 220 attorneys in the District, announced last week that the top lawyer from the Patent and Trademark Office will be joining the firm’s Washington office in September.

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