Legal Environment

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In this page: Business Contract | Intellectual Property | Legal Framework of Business | International Dispute Resolution


Business Contract

General Observation
You must define precisely the obligations of each party.
Law Applicable to the Contract
You must be particularly vigilant towards the law applicable to contracts and the methods of conflict resolution. Portugal is a signatory to the Vienna Convention on international contracts. The Portuguese legal system is complex, and it is not easy for a foreigner to understand Portuguese law, so it is recommended that international laws be used or an arbitration system be called upon. International laws are generally accepted in contracts concluded with Portuguese companies.
Advisable Incoterms
It is preferable to choose an incoterm FOB  or CIF.
Language of Domestic Contract
Other Laws Which Can Be Used in Domestic Contracts
If Portuguese law is not used, the law of the other contracting party must be chosen.

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Intellectual Property

National Organisations
For the protection of intellectual Property: the National Institute for Industrial Property, the organisation for the protection of intellectual property.

For copyright: the Portuguese Authors' Society. For other bodies involved in managing copyright, consult this list.

Regional Organisations
For the protection of patents: the European Patent Office (EPO). To control trademarks, designs and models: the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
International Membership
Signatory to the Paris Convention For the Protection of Intellectual Property
Membership to the TRIPS agreement - Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

National Regulation and International Agreements

Type of property and law Validity International Agreements Signed
Industrial Property Code, Decree- Act n° 16/95
24 January 1995
20 years Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
Industrial Property Code, Decree- Act n° 16/95
24 January 1995
10 years Trademark Law Treaty
Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks
Industrial Property Code, Decree- Act n° 16/95
24 January 1995
25 years  
'Código Direitos de autor' (Copyright Code)
70 years after the death of its author, or after the most recent death of its authors Berne convention For the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms
Rome ConventionFor the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations
WIPO Copyright Treaty
WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty

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Legal Framework of Business

Equity of Judgments

Equal Treatment of Nationals and Foreigners
The Language of Justice
Portuguese and Mirandese in a region of the north-east of the country.
Recourse to an Interpreter
Legal Similarities
Portuguese law has various sources, including : the Constitution, laws passed by Parliament, ministerial decrees and orders, international conventions and treaties ratified by Portugal. As a member of the European Union, Portuguese national law also conforms to the requirements of Community legislation.

As the French legal model inspired the Portuguese model, there are considerable similarities between the two. In addition to France, there are parallels with other countries whose law has also come from the Roman system of law.


The Different Legal Codes

Accounting Regulations The 4th Community Directive
The 7th Community Directive
DL Nºs 410/89 e 238/91
Contract and property law Código Civil (Civil Code)
Customs law Código alfandegario (Customs Code)
Consumer law Lei de defesa do consumidor (law for the defense of the consumer)
Company law Código das Sociedades Comerciais (Commercial companies Code), Código Civil (Civil Code), Direito Bancário (banking law), Direito Fiscal (tax law)
Investment law Código do Investimento (Investment Code)
Labor law Lei do trabalho (Labour law)
Checking National Laws Online
Diário Republica (Official Gazette)
Other Useful Resources
Center for legal studies
Deco, Law portal.
Country Guides
Lexmundi, Guide to doing business in Portugal: legal system.

The Jurisdictions

Disputes with the State, the Administration, local administration Tribunal Administrativo, Tribunal Superior Administrativo (administrative tribunals)
Disputes relative to work contracts, disputes between employers and employees Tribunal do Trabalho, Secção de Trabalho do tribunal de 2ª instância (labor tribunal, Labor section of the tribunal of 2nd instance).
Commercial disputes Tribunais de Arbitragem , tribunais de 1ª instancia, secção comércio, Tribunal da Relação, Supremo Tribunal de Justiça (Arbitration Tribunals, Tribunal of 1st instance, Commerce section, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Appeal)
Third party liability and insurance, civil status of persons, real estate Tribunal de 1ª instância, Tribunal da Relação, Supremo Tribunal de Justiça (Tribunal of 1st instance, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Appeal)
Criminal liability (bankruptcy, misappropriation of funds, complicity, etc.) Tribunal de Comarca, Tribunal de Círculo, Tribunal de Relação (secção penal), Supremo tribunal de Justiça, secção criminal (Tribunal of 1st instance for the smallest territorial legal unit, Tribunal of 1st instance for the largest territorial legal unit, Court of Appeal, penal section, Supreme Court of Appeal, criminal section)

Court Officials

Advogado (Lawyer)
The lawyer's first role is to inform his clients of their rights and obligations. He can then represent them in court and speak for the defense.
Perito Judicial (Legal expert)
A judge appoints a duly authorized professional who will review information in order to clarify certain elements of a case.
Escrivão (Clerk of the Court)
During the procedure, he will write down all exchanges, declarations and observations.
Oficial de Justiça (Bailiff)
He is a legal officer responsible for serving legal process and for enforcing court decisions.
Juiz (Judge)
He is the one who decides if the law has been broken or not, as well as the penalties which ensue.
Procurador da República (State prosecutor)
He is a magistrate who represents the Prosecution in the court of 1st instance.

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International Dispute Resolution

Arbitration is a solution for settling disputes. An arbitrator is called in to make the final decision in the resolution of such conflicts.
Arbitration Law
Lei nº 63/2011
Conformity to International Commercial Arbitration Rules
Party to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Party to the Geneva Protocol on Arbitration Clauses.
Party to the Geneva Convention of the Execution of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Appointment of Arbitrators
The court of arbitration is composed of an odd number of arbitrators (usually three), who are chosen by the disputing parties.
Arbitration Procedure
Any person or company facing a dispute can resort to arbitration on condition that both parties wish to resort to this procedure. The sentence decided by the arbitrators is not binding. If the person sentenced refuses to carry it out, the other party will have to resort to a state tribunal for an exequatur ruling. The person sentenced can refer to the Court of Appeal to request the quashing of the sentence.
Permanent Arbitration Bodies
Arbitration centre of the Chamber of Commerce (Sectors Covered: commerce)
Arbitration Tribunal (Sectors Covered: real estate)

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Latest Update: July 2024