Arbitration Team of the Month #28
Jus Connect is pleased to nominate Ferro, Castro Neves, Daltro & Gomide Advogados (FCDG) for its coveted Arbitration Team of the Month (ATOM) Award, in appreciation for the firm’s extensive work in international arbitration as well as its standing in Brazil and worldwide.
Ferro, Castro Neves, Daltro & Gomide Advogados (FCDG) has an impressive track record in arbitration. They have been involved in at least 22 international case(s) known by Jus Mundi (21 Commercial Arbitration and 1 Sport Arbitration) in a variety of economic sectors including, Financial Services, Construction, Land Transportation, Logistics & Storage, Insurance and Pension, Telecommunication, Maritime, Paper and forest products, Trade, Energy – Electric Power.
Arbitration is highly popular in Brazil. In fact, commercial arbitration is the most commonly used method of alternative dispute resolution in the country.
Karina Goldberg, Gustavo Birenbaum, and Marcos Pitanga, Partners at Ferro, Castro Neves, Daltro & Gomide Advogados (FCDG), discuss the Brazilian arbitration landscape and what may possibly change if the “Anti-Arbitration” Bill came to pass.
Congratulations on winning this coveted award. Can you tell us about Ferro, Castro Neves, Daltro & Gomide Advogados (FCDG) & its international arbitration practice?
FCDG focuses on strategic dispute resolution, which encompasses commercial arbitration (both domestic and international), litigation before State and Federal Courts, and commercial mediation.
FCDG’s International Arbitration practice deals more regularly with commercial disputes (in areas such as corporate, construction, energy, oil and gas, mining, and financial services, among others).
Thus far, FCDG has not represented States in investor-State arbitrations. This is due to the fact that Brazil is not a member of the ICSID Convention and has not ratified any bilateral investment treaty. We do, however, represent Brazilian State-owned entities in certain commercial disputes and also investors in commercial disputes based on statutory corporate law (and not in bilateral treaties).
FCDG is regularly ranked top of the field in Brazil for its arbitration practice and works on multi-billion dollars cases. What is the secret to your national and international standing?
Maybe not a “secret”, but probably a number of qualities that most law firms pursue.
We are totally client-driven and focused mostly on the strategic matters for our clients: we try to understand not only the legal aspects of the disputes, but how they affect our clients’ businesses. We also endeavor to engage a number of seasoned partners to work as a team on our cases.
We believe this approach allows for a richer exchange of ideas and strategy definition for each case, which are dealt with on a tailor-made basis. We also often work as co-counsel with foreign firms and even with other Brazilian firms which also enriches our experience in big commercial disputes.
There are also internal incentives aimed at making partners and associates work together in a uniform manner to seek a common favorable outcome for the cases we conduct. Their interests are aligned.
And last but not least, each case, no matter how challenging or the amount of money at stake, must be carried out as if it was the case of a lifetime for our clients.
Tell us about yourselves and how you came to work in arbitration.
Most of us came from a general litigation practice in Brazil.
Before 1996, when the Brazilian Arbitration law (“L. 9307/96”) was enacted, arbitration proceedings were scarce in Brazil. According to the procedural law in force before 1996, a domestic arbitral award should be confirmed by the Judiciary (nowadays, this requirement applies only to decisions taken outside Brazil). Hence, it did not make sense to arbitrate domestic matters and therefore most commercial disputes were ruled before State courts.
When, in 2001, the Brazilian Supreme Court confirmed the constitutionality of L. 9307/96 (there were discussions related to access to justice back then), the Brazilian community in general, and our founding partners in particular, benefitted from this new landscape, which became the norm for meaningful commercial disputes in our country and has been steadily growing ever since.
Our senior partners started to get involved with the most complex arbitration disputes in Brazil right after 2005, when the firm was constituted. Since then, we have been focusing on specializing in commercial arbitration, including civil, corporate, construction, and infrastructure disputes.
Can you tell us about a major case you worked on that has contributed to shaping arbitration in Brazil and why?
There is one at the moment, in which we represent Paper Excellence (along with Mattos Filho, Wilmer Hale and King & Spalding) against J&F in an ICC arbitration related to the M&A transaction for the purchase of the paper mill company Eldorado.
The defeated party (J&F) has been trying to set aside an award of over 1 USD-billion.
Besides having a high-ranked arbitration practice, you also have a renowned insolvency practice in Brazil. Can you tell us about the 2020 Brazilian Insolvency Law regulating insolvency in arbitral proceedings and its applications?
The current provisions set out in the Brazilian Bankruptcy Law are arbitration-friendly. In 2020, Law n. 14,112 included important provisions establishing that the commencement of an insolvency proceeding does not authorize the court or the appointed judicial administrator to refuse the effectiveness of an arbitration agreement and does not prevent or suspend any arbitral proceeding.
How important is visibility for your arbitration team? In what ways does your firm/practice promote visibility?
It is very important indeed. In such a competitive environment, being a “Top of Mind” firm can make a huge difference, both within the arbitration community and especially with in-house counsel. We are well aware that our visibility and the way our profile is described on platform/publications such as Jus Connect play a very important role when in-house counsel need to pick a firm to handle a high-stake case.
What impacts do you foresee the Brazilian “Anti-Arbitration” Bill (i.e., Bill No. 3,923/21) will have if it comes to pass into law?
First, we really do not think it will pass into law. But if it does, it would definitely jeopardize all the work that has been performed in the past 20 years by Brazilian Courts and legislators to put Brazil in the international field for investors in regard to dispute resolution. The Bill creates awkward procedural hurdles that simply do not exist elsewhere and opens spaces for unreasonable bad-faith challenges by defeated parties. Hence, Brazil would no longer be a major seat for international arbitrations, as it is nowadays. This can affect foreign investments in Brazil.
Congratulations to the team once again! Jus Connect wishes them nothing but success.