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The Online Guide

The Online Guide to Portuguese Arbitration aims at providing information and high-level advice on arbitration in Portugal or any arbitration with a Portuguese element.

It takes into consideration the nuances and specificities of the Portuguese jurisdiction and the legal framework applicable to this mechanism of dispute resolution, particularly as set out in the Portuguese Voluntary Arbitration Law (PAL – Law 63/2011 of 14 December 2011).

The online guide is divided into 12 chapters.

1. Introduction

The new Portuguese Voluntary Arbitration Law, Law 63/2011 (the PAL) was published in the Portuguese Official Gazette on 14 December 2011 and entered into force on 14 March 2012. It revoked the former Portuguese arbitration law (Law No. 31/86 of 29 August 1986, amended by Decree-Law No. 38/2003 of 8 March 2003).

The PAL aims to introduce a more modern arbitration regime and promote Portugal as a seat for international arbitrations. Portuguese Arbitration Law has been adapted to accommodate new trends in arbitration. The general principles underlying the PAL are:

• Party autonomy.
• Kompetenz-kompetenz. The PAL confers jurisdiction on state courts to rule on the competence of arbitral tribunals only where the arbitration agreement is manifestly null and void, inoperative or incapable of being performed.
• Adhering to procedural principles, such as, equality of the parties, due and fair process and the adversarial principle.

The PAL was inspired by:
• The provisions and principles of the UNCITRAL Model Law.
• The legal solutions of other European arbitration laws such as the Arbitration Laws of Germany, Switzerland and France.

This has made Portugal a more attractive arbitral venue for both national and foreign parties.

The main arbitration institutions are also devoted to promoting Lisbon and Portugal as an arbitration hub, connecting all Portuguese-speaking countries. However, in spite of all these efforts, arbitration in Portugal remains mostly ad hoc. Indeed, although the Portuguese Parliament enacted a new law providing for compulsory arbitration in relation to disputes arising from reference medicines and generic medicines, it did not compel the litigants to use institutional arbitration. 

2. Sources of the Portuguese Arbitration Law

a. Constitution of the Portuguese Republic  
The Constitution of the Portuguese Republic (CPR) clearly states that “arbitration tribunals” are considered as jurisdictional bodies (Art. 209(2) CPR).

The legal system of Portugal is composed of the “norms and principles of general or common international law”, which “form an integral part of Portuguese law” (Art. 8(1) CPR).

Moreover, “the norms contained in duly ratified or approved international conventions come into force in Portuguese internal law once they have been officially published, and remain so for as long as they are internationally binding on the Portuguese state.” (Art. 8(2) CPR).

b. International Instruments and National Legislation
In accordance with the CPR, the Civil Code of Procedure (CCP) and the New York Convention (applied in Portugal since 1995), awards rendered in a foreign country must be recognized by the Portuguese courts before they can be enforced in Portugal. Portugal is also a party to the ICSID Convention.

The PAL is the main source of arbitration law in Portugal and it has made significant changes to Portuguese arbitration. For one, the main “arbitrability” criterion shifted from the “disposability” or “alienability” nature of the interests at stake to a “patrimoniality” criterion. This means that parties may settle through arbitration disputes related to patrimonial rights over which they may dispose. (See Art. 1(1) PAL.)

The Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) sets forth the legal regime applicable to all judicial procedures related to arbitration, for instance, appointment of arbitrators, determination of arbitrators’ fees, challenge of arbitrators, appeal (where admissible), setting aside, enforcement (and opposition to enforcement), and recognition of foreign arbitral awards, to name but the most relevant.

The CCP is also the basis of the legal regime applicable to compulsory arbitration (Book VI, Arts. 1082 to 1085).  

3. International Arbitration and Governing Law

Arbitration is considered international whenever international trade interests are at stake (Art. 49(1) PAL).

In international arbitration, the arbitration agreement is considered valid if it is valid under either:
• The law that governs the arbitration agreement.
• The law applicable to the merits of the dispute.
• Applicable Portuguese law.
(Art. 51(1) PAL.)

Further, the parties may choose the rules of law to be applied by the arbitral tribunal, if it is not authorized to decide according to ex aequo et bono. Without a choice of law, the arbitral tribunal applies the law of the state with which the subject matter of the dispute has the closest connection (Art. 52(1) and (2) PAL).

Finally, the parties are not allowed to agree to an appeal against the final award, but may agree to have another arbitral tribunal constituted to perform a full revision of the case, provided that they have regulated the proceedings applicable thereto beforehand (Art. 39(4) PAL).

4. The Role of the Portuguese Courts

Courts provide for assistance to arbitration, both domestic and international disputes.

Where the parties have not specified a procedure for the appointment of the tribunal, or if a dispute arises preventing the appointment of one or more arbitrators, the matter may be referred to the juge d’appui (Art. 10 (4) PAL). This is a judge charged with supporting the arbitral procedure (Art. 59 PAL).

Unless the parties specify otherwise, the juge d’appui for an arbitration seated in Portugal or subject to Portuguese law will be the judge of the court of First Instance or the judge of the Court of Appeals, depending on the subject matter at stake (Art. 59 PAL). For example, the judge granting assistance in the taking of evidence shall be the judicial court of first instance in whose jurisdiction the place of arbitration is located (Art. 38 and Art. 59 PAL), but if the subject matter is the challenge of an arbitrator, then the Court of Appeal in whose district the place of arbitration is located shall be the competent to decide the issue (Art. 59 PAL).

Where the dispute is to be referred to one or more arbitrators and no appointing authority has been named, the juge d’appui will appoint the sole arbitrator or the arbitrators constituting the panel if the parties do not reach an agreement as to the composition of the arbitral tribunal (Art. 10(4) and Art. 59 PAL).

The appointment can be made by the juge d’appui where:
• Either party fails to name an arbitrator within thirty days of a request to do so.
• The two arbitrators are unable to agree on a third arbitrator within thirty days of their appointment.
(Art. 10(4) PAL)

Similarly, the juge d’appui may also appoint a substitute arbitrator where the agreement is silent on the procedure for substituting an arbitrator Art. 16(1) PAL).

Courts also exercise a “last resort” control power over the arbitration in issues such as appointment and challenge of arbitrators, correction of decisions on arbitrators fees, set aside procedures, and the like (Art. 59 PAL). Notwithstanding the extent of the court’s powers, the general attitude of courts towards arbitration is to interfere less than was previously the case.

The state court before which an action is brought in a matter which is the object of an arbitration agreement must, if the respondent so requests not later than when submitting its first statement on the substance of the dispute, dismiss the case, unless it finds that the arbitration agreement is clearly null and void, is or became inoperative or is incapable of being performed (Art. 5(1) of the PAL). 

5. Jurisdictional Issues

a. Arbitrability
Article 1(1) of the PAL of provides that negotiable patrimonial rights can be arbitrated. In addition, whenever disputes do not involve patrimonial interests, “the arbitration agreement is also valid provided that the parties are entitled to conclude a settlement on the right in dispute” (Art. 1(2) of the PAL).

Further, disputes related to copyright and related rights may be submitted to arbitration if “disposable” or “alienable” rights only are at stake (Portuguese Code on Copyright and Related Rights (1995)).

On the other hand, whether involving patrimonial interests or not, the following kinds of disputes are subject to mandatory arbitration:
• Industrial property rights related to reference medicines and generic medicines (Law No. 62/2011 of 14 December 2011).
• Particular issues related to sport federations, leagues and other sport entities, and disputes related to doping in sport (Law No. 74/2013 of 6 September 2013).
• Particular issues of collective bargaining (Portuguese Labor Code).
• Issues related to copyright and intellectual property relating to:
• rewards for the lease of works protected by copyright (Decree-Law No. 332/97 of 27 November 1997);
• rights to authorize or prohibit cable retransmission of works protected by copyright (Decree-Law No. 333/97 of 27 November 1997);
• compensation for the recording or reproduction of works (Decree-Law No. 62/98 of 1 September 1998)
• technological protection measures under the Portuguese Code on Copyright and Related Rights (1995).

b. Portuguese approach to the principle of kompetenz-kompetenz
Under the PAL, an arbitrator is competent to decide, ex officio (that is, of his own motion) or at a party’s request, matters relating to the existence, validity and effectiveness of the arbitration agreement and the contract in which the arbitration clause is inserted (Article 18(1) of the PAL).

This provision embodies the kompetenz-kompetenz principle that arbitrability is a jurisdiction-related subject and, therefore, arbitrators have the competence to decide in the first instance whether a dispute is arbitrable or not.

However, Article 5(1) of the PAL states that (in line with the New York Convention): “the state court before which an action is brought in a matter which is the object of an arbitration agreement shall, if the respondent so requests not later than when submitting its first statement on the substance of the dispute, dismiss the case, unless it finds that the arbitration agreement is clearly null and void, is or became inoperative or is incapable of being performed.”

Nonetheless, parties cannot resort to anti-suit injunctions to prevent the constitution or functioning of an arbitral tribunal (Art. 5(4) of the PAL).

The arbitral tribunal may rule on its own jurisdiction either in the final award or in an interim decision. In the latter case, a party may challenge said decision before the state courts within thirty days (Article 18(9) and (10) of the PAL). If the arbitral tribunal rules on the jurisdictional issue for the first time in the final award, the decision by which the tribunal finds itself competent will only be open for challenge in set-aside proceedings (Article 46(3) of the PAL). 

6. Arbitration Agreements

a. Formal Requirements
Arbitration agreements must be in writing.

This requirement applies whether the agreement takes the form of a stand-alone submission agreement or an arbitration clause in a contract (Art. 2(1) of the PAL).

An arbitration agreement is binding even when it is merely incorporated by reference into the contract giving rise to the dispute (Art. 2(4) of the PAL).
This writing requirement is met “if the agreement is recorded in a written document signed by the parties, in an exchange of letters, telegrams, faxes or other means of telecommunications which provide a written record of the agreement, including electronic means of communication” (Art. 2(2) of the PAL) or “if it is recorded on an electronic, magnetic, optical or any other type of support, that offers the same guarantees of reliability, comprehensiveness and preservation” (Art. 2(3) PAL).

Finally, this requirement is also met “if there is an exchange of statements of claim and defense in arbitral proceedings, in which the existence of such an agreement is invoked by one party and not denied by the other” (Art. 2(5) PAL).

The Portuguese superior courts have upheld arbitration clauses inserted in a standard form contract. For instance, in a matter related to a swap contract, governed by the ISDA Master Agreement, the Guimarães Court of Appeal, the Lisbon Court of Appeal, and the Oporto Court of Appeal enforced the arbitration clause (see decisions of 24 September 2014, 25 February 2015, and 13 April 2015).

b. Substantive Requirements
The PAL does not contain specific provisions on the substantive requirements of the arbitration agreement.

The agreement to arbitrate is subject to substantive requirements arising from the general principles of law, in particular to the general principles and provisions of private law that stem from the Portuguese Civil Code, and most notably from the law of obligations. Issues such as consent, validity and efficacy of transactional declarations, capacity, apply to arbitration agreements.

The PAL enables the parties to resort to arbitration not only to solve “pure dispute issues” but also “any other issues that require the intervention of an impartial decision maker, including those related to the need to specify, complete and adapt contracts with long-lasting obligations to new circumstances” (Art. 1(4) PAL).

c. Separability
The PAL recognizes the principle of separability of the arbitration clause. Under Article 18, the arbitration clause is autonomous from the contract in which it is inserted and the nullity or unenforceability of the contract does not affect the arbitration clause.

d. Extension to Non-signatories and Joinder of Third-Parties
Article 36(1) of the PAL provides that “only third parties bound by the arbitration agreement, whether from the date of such agreement or by having subsequently adhered to it, are allowed to join ongoing arbitral proceedings. Such adhesion requires the consent of all parties to the arbitration agreement and may only take place in respect of the arbitration in question.”

However, at least two Portuguese courts have recognized that arbitration agreements can be extended to bind non-signatories in exceptional circumstances but both courts declined to bind the non-signatory in the circumstances presented (see decisions of the Lisbon Court of Appeal on 24 March 2015 and 11 January 2011). The Portuguese Supreme Court affirmed the January 11 decision on 8 September 2011.

More recently, the Portuguese Supreme Court of Justice decided to uphold a decision from lower courts where the extension of an arbitration agreement to other companies of the same group was granted (see decision of the Portuguese Supreme Court of Justice of 15-01-2019, availabe here).

Regarding procedure, the PAL provides:
• If the arbitral tribunal has already been constituted, the joinder of a third party can only be allowed or requested if the third party declares that it accepts the current composition of the tribunal; when a joinder is requested by the third party such acceptance is presumed (Article 36(2) of the PAL).
• The arbitral tribunal enjoys reasonable discretion and may refuse the joinder where it would unduly disrupt the normal flow of the arbitral proceeding, or if there are no relevant reasons to uphold joinder. The following are considered to be good reasons for joinder under Article 36(3) of the PAL:
• the third party has an interest in the subject-matter of the dispute equal to that of the claimant or respondent;
• the third party wishes to present a claim against the respondent with the same object as that of the claimant, but which is incompatible with that claim;
• the respondent wants the other possible joint and several creditors to be bound by the final award; or
• the respondent seeks to join a non-party who is or may be liable to the respondent for all or part of the claim asserted by the claimant.
(Art. 36(3) PAL). If the arbitral tribunal has not yet been constituted, non-parties may be joined by an arbitral institution if permitted by the institution’s rules (Art. 36(6) of the PAL). Where there are multiple parties entitled to appoint arbitrators, the court may appoint all the arbitrators and indicate which one of them shall be the chairperson (Art. 11(3) of the PAL). 

7. Arbitrators and Arbitral Tribunal

a. Number of Arbitrators
The parties are free to agree on the number of arbitrators. However, the panel must comprise an uneven number of arbitrators and failing agreement on the number, the tribunal will have three arbitrators (Art. 8(1) and (2) of the PAL).

b. Necessary Qualifications
Any legally capable individual can act as an arbitrator (Art. 9(1) of the PAL). The parties may impose additional qualifications and some arbitral institutions have specific requirements for arbitrators on their lists. Arbitrators’ ethical duties are set out in Article 9(3) of the PAL, which states that an arbitrator must be independent and impartial.

A number of arbitral institutions including the Commercial Arbitration Centre of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Portugal have directly or indirectly incorporated the IBA Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in International Arbitration. The “Code of Ethics” of the Portuguese Arbitration Association, applicable to all its members by virtue of their membership, has also incorporated the IBA Guidelines.

c. Appointment
Under Article 10(1) of the PAL, the parties may jointly appoint arbitrators or may agree on a procedure for appointing them, including entrusting the appointment of all or some of the arbitrators to a third party. The Commercial Arbitration Centre of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Portugal recently enacted a set of rules applicable to the appointment of arbitrators.

In arbitrations with a sole arbitrator, if the parties are unable to agree on the appointment of the arbitrator or on institutional appointment, the arbitrator shall be appointed, upon request of any party, by the state court(Court of Appeal) (Art. 10(2) of the PAL). In arbitrations with three or more arbitrators, each party appoints an equal number of arbitrators and the arbitrators appointed appoint the chairperson (Art. 10(3) of the PAL). If the party-appointed arbitrators do not chose a chairperson, any party may seek the appointment from the Court of Appeal.

d. Challenge
The parties are free to agree on a procedure for challenging an arbitrator (Art. 14(1) of the PAL). Absent an agreed-upon procedure, a challenge to an arbitrator must be made by the parties directly to the arbitral tribunal within 15 days after becoming aware of the constitution of the arbitral tribunal or after becoming aware of the facts forming the basis for the challenge. The arbitral tribunal, including the challenged arbitrator, shall decide on the challenge. (See Art. 13 and 14(2) of the PAL.)
If the challenge is not successful, the challenging party may request, within 15 days after having received notice of the decision rejecting the challenge, the competent State court to decide on the challenge, which decision shall not be subject to any appeal. While such a request is pending, the arbitral tribunal, including the challenged arbitrator, may continue the arbitral proceedings and make an award.

e. Replacement
The arbitrator must be replaced if he:
• Withdraws
• Dies
• Is successfully challenged
• Becomes incapable to carry out his duties

Replacement of arbitrators is normally in accordance with the applicable arbitral rules. In the absence of any provision in the arbitration agreement or the applicable rules, and if the parties fail to agree on the appointment of the substitute arbitrator, the interested party must request a court to appoint a replacement under Article 10 of the PAL.
(Arts. 15 and 16 of the PAL) 

8. Arbitrators' duties and powers

a. Duties of Independence, Impartiality and Disclosure

Arbitrators have a duty to be impartial and independent (Art. 9(3) of the PAL). Arbitrators are also subject to the rules of suspicion and impediment that apply to judges (Art. 9(4) of the PAL).

Therefore, before accepting appointment, arbitrators have a duty to disclose any facts that might give rise to justified doubts about their impartiality or independence (Art. 13(1) of the PAL). In addition, the rules of most arbitration institutions also require the arbitrator to sign a statement of independence when accepting an appointment.

b. Procedural powers
In the absence of any provision or agreement of the parties, the arbitral tribunal:
• Will conduct the proceedings in such a manner it considers appropriate and according to the procedural rules it considers adequate (Art. 30(3) PAL).
• May may determine the place of the arbitration (Art. 31(1) PAL) and the language applicable to the proceedings (Art. 32(1) PAL).
• Determines the evidence to be presented, its relevance and weight (Art. 30(4) PAL). 

9. Arbitration Proceedings

a. Commencing Arbitration
Arbitration is formally commenced when a request to submit a dispute to arbitration is received by the respondent, unless the parties have agreed otherwise (Art. 33(1) PAL). The law does not provide for the minimum contents of that request.

When commencing an ad hoc arbitration, it is advisable to follow a procedure aligned with the old legal provisions (Art. 11(1) of the Old PAL) and that is also the result of the general practice and to provide an indication of the following elements in the request to arbitrate:
• Identify the disputing parties.
• Specify the arbitration agreement.
• Briefly describe the dispute.
• Identify the arbitrator or arbitrators to be appointed by the requesting party and invite the counterparty to do the same.
• If the arbitration is to be conducted by a sole-arbitrator, name the proposed arbitrator.

b. Conduct of Proceedings
In the absence of an agreement by the parties or an applicable institutional rules, the arbitral tribunal may conduct the arbitration in the manner it considers appropriate, defining the procedural rules it deems adequate.

Arbitration procedures are bound by the following principles:
• The respondent must be given notice of the proceedings and an opportunity to present its defense.
• Equal treatment of the parties.
• Adversarial process.
(Art 30 (1) PAL)

The tribunal decides whether to hold evidentiary hearings or to conduct proceedings on the basis of documents and other means of proof (Art. 34(1) PAL).

c. Confidentiality
The arbitrators, the parties and the arbitral institutions, must maintain confidentiality in respect of any information obtained and any documents produced during the arbitration proceedings without prejudice to the duty to communicate or disclose information or activities to the competent authorities, if imposed by law (Art 30 (5) PAL). Unless a party objects, awards and other decisions may be published, excluding details that would identify the parties law (Art 30 (6) PAL). 

10. State Courts' Powers in Support of Arbitration

a. General powers
As a general rule, courts cannot intervene in the arbitration. However, state courts can exercise their powers in support of an arbitration, including to:
• Appoint arbitrators where the parties have failed to do so (Art. 10(4) PAL).
• Grant interim or urgent measures (Art 29 PAL).
• Compel testimony or production of evidence from non-parties (Art. 38 PAL).
• Remove an arbitrator (Art. 15(3) PAL).
• Recognize and enforce foreign arbitral awards (Art. 55 PAL).
On rare occasions, case law shows that courts may grant anti-arbitration injunctions barring a party from commencing or continuing arbitration proceedings (Art 5.4 PAL) whenever the arbitration agreement is clearly null and void, is or became inoperative or is incapable of being performed (Art 5.1 PAL).

b. Interim Measures
State courts may issue interim, urgent and provisional measures in aid of arbitration (Art. 29 (1) PAL).

The law provides that it is not incompatible with an arbitration agreement for a party to request from a state court, before or during the arbitral proceedings, an interim measure and for a state court to grant such a measure (Art. 7 PAL).

Once constituted, the arbitral tribunal may also grant interim measures (Art. 20 PAL) and modify, suspend or terminate an interim measure or a preliminary order it has granted or issued, upon application of any party or, in exceptional circumstances and after hearing the parties, on the arbitral tribunal’s own initiative (Art. 24(1) PAL).

An interim measure issued by an arbitral tribunal shall be binding on the parties and, unless otherwise provided by the arbitral tribunal, shall be enforced upon application to the competent state court, irrespective of the arbitration in which it was issued being seated abroad (Art. 27(1) PAL). 

11. Awards

a. Formal Requirements
The award must be made in writing and signed by the arbitrator or a majority arbitrators. If only the chair is available to sign, the reason for the omission of the remaining signatures must be stated in the award. (Art. 42(1) PAL.)

The award must state the reasons upon which it is based, unless the parties have agreed that no reasons are to be given or the award is rendered on the basis of a settlement (Art. 42(3) PAL).

b. Contents
The arbitrators decide the dispute in accordance with the law, unless the parties agree that they shall decide ex aequo et bono or as amiable compositeur (Art. 39 PAL).

Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the arbitrators may issue a single award or in as many partial awards as they deem necessary (Art. 42 PAL).

The award should determine the proportions in which the parties shall bear the costs directly resulting from the arbitration, and the arbitrators decide in the award, if they so deem fair and appropriate, that one or some of the parties shall compensate the other party or parties for the whole or part of the reasonable costs and expenses that they can prove to have incurred due to their participation in the arbitration (Art. 42 PAL).

c. Correction and Interpretation; Additional Award
Arbitrators may only correct or interpret an award at a party’s request in the event of:
• Computation, clerical or typographical error.
• Obscurity or ambiguity.
(Art. 45(1) and (2) PAL.) The arbitral tribunal may exercise these powers on its own initiative within 30 days of the notice of the award (Art. 45(4) PAL).
Furthermore, any party may, with notice to the other party, may request the arbitral tribunal within 30 days of receipt of the notice of the award to make an additional award as to parts of the claim or claims submitted in the arbitral proceedings but omitted from the award. Any additional award must be rendered within 30 days of the request. (Art. 45(5) PAL.)

d. Challenges to Awards
Generally speaking, arbitral awards are not subject to appeal, unless the parties opted in for such recourse in the arbitration agreement, and provided that the dispute has not been decided ex aequo et bono or through amiable composition (Article 39(4) PAL).

Parties may only request annulment of awards by means of a set aside motion in accordance with Article 46 of the PAL.

The Portuguese law, in line with Art. V of the New York Convention, sets forth narrow grounds to set aside the award.

The first five of these grounds must be raised by the party opposing enforcement of the arbitral award, who has the burden of proof. The last two grounds may be raised by a court sua sponte.

SArticle 46 (3) of the PAL provides that an arbitral award may be set aside by the competent state court only if:
• The party making the application furnishes proof that:
• one of the parties to the arbitration agreement was under some incapacity; or the agreement is not valid under the applicable law;
• there has been a violation within the proceedings of some of the fundamental dup process principles of Article 30 (1) with a decisive influence on the outcome of the dispute;
• the award dealt with a dispute not contemplated by the arbitration agreement, or contains decisions beyond the scope of the arbitration agreement;
• the composition of the arbitral tribunal or the arbitral procedure was not in accordance with the agreement of the parties, unless such agreement was in conflict with a provision of this PAL from which the parties cannot derogate, or (failing such agreement) was not in accordance the PAL, and the inconformity had a decisive influence on the decision of the dispute;
• The arbitral tribunal awarded an amount in excess of what was claimed or on a different claim from that that was presented, or has dealt with issues that it should not have dealt with, or has failed to decide issues that it should have decided;
• the award does not conform to the formal requirements set out in Article 42(1) and (3) of the PAL; or
• the award was notified to the parties after the maximum time-limit set in accordance with Article 43 of the PAL lapsed.
• The court finds that:
• The subject-matter of the dispute cannot be decided by arbitration under Portuguese law; or
• the content of the award is in conflict with the principles of international public policy of the Portugal.

The Portuguese courts have developed a restrictive approach to the public policy exception. For example in a decision issued on 29 November 2007, the Lisbon Court of Appeal rejected the challenging party’s argument that an arbitral award violated public policy because it
• Ordered the respondent to pay the claimant an amount arising from a contractual “penalty clause.”
• Did not contain sufficient reasoning.
On 10 July 2008, the Portuguese Supreme Court of Justice affirmed this ruling on the same grounds.

“Domestic” public policy does not allow the annulment of the award. Only where the award violates the “international” public policy of Portugal, may a cause to set aside be ascertained by the court.

e. Competent Courts
Under Article 59(1)(f) of the PAL, the Court of Appeal in the district at the place of arbitration is competent to decide on the setting aside of the final award.

f. Time Limits
The motion to set aside an award must be filed within 60 days from the date the challenging parties received notification of the award or the date that the parties were notified of a decision on a motion to clarify the award (Art. 46(6) PAL).

The setting aside proceedings are under the Portuguese Code of Civil Procedure. Usually, it will take no more than a year to be decided.

g. Effects of a Successful Challenge
The court that sets aside the arbitral award may not deal with the merits of the issue or issues decided in the award. If the award is set aside, a party seeking relief may commence a new arbitration (Art. 46 (9) PAL). 

12. Enforcement of Awards

a. Domestic Arbitral Awards
“Domestic” arbitral awards are not subject to “exequatur” in order to be enforced in state courts.

Article 47(1) of the PAL provides that the party seeking to enforce an arbitral award must supply the original of or a certified copy of the award and, if the award was not made in Portuguese, a certified translation thereof into Portuguese.

The arbitral award may be enforced even if it has been subject to a setting aside procedure. In that event, the party against whom enforcement is invoked may request that the enforcement procedures be stayed, provided that the resisting party offers to provide security, and that security is effectively provided within the time limit set by the court (Art. 47(3) PAL).

b. Foreign Arbitral Awards
According to Portuguese law, a foreign arbitral award must be recognised before enforcement procedures are set in motion.


Under Article 59(1)(h) of the PAL, the Court of Appeal in whose district the domicile of the person against whom the decision to be invoked is located is competent to decide the recognition of the foreign arbitral award.

Subsequently, the enforcement of such arbitral award shall take place in the competent State court of first instance, under the applicable procedural law.

Once the award is recognized, enforcement proceedings must be brought in the competent court of first instance. Enforcement may be challenged on the grounds listed in the Portuguese Civil Procedural Code. However, the grounds for refusal of recognition cannot be reiterated in the enforcement proceedings.

There appears to be only one decision of the Portuguese Supreme Court of Justice that allowed immediate enforcement of a foreign arbitral award without a previous recognition procedure (see decision of Supreme Court of Justice of 19 March 2009 ). This decision is subject to severe criticism by some commentators, and the Supreme Court in alter case held that a foreign arbitral award requires prior recognition (see decision of 18 February 2014 of the Portuguese Supreme Court of Justice).
c. Grounds for Resisting Enforcement
The party against whom enforcement of the arbitral award is invoked may oppose the enforcement on any of the grounds which may be used for the setting aside of the award, provided that, on the date on which the opposition is presented, an application for setting aside on the same grounds has not already been rejected by a final and binding judgment (Art. 48(1) PAL).

The Portuguese law is in line with Art. V of the New York Convention.

So far, there is no legal authority in Portugal on the enforceability of awards set aside at the seat of the arbitration.