Portugal International Trade in Legal Services

Portugal International Trade in Legal Services


Is there legislation governing the legal sector

Law 49/2004 of 24 August: Lawyers' Act

Under what title do lawyers practise?

Advogado (lawyer) or solicitadore (legal agent)

How does an individual lawyer obtain a "licence" to practise law? How often must this be renewed?



Only persons holding a Licence (Cédula profissional) may practise the profession of lawyer in Portugal.  The following are the requirements that must be fulfilled in order to obtain a licence to practice: 1) An undergraduate degree (Licenciatura) in Law 2) Registration as a member of the Ordem dos Advogados (the Portuguese Bar Association). 

Does this entitle the holder to practise throughout the country? If the law license only permits one to practice on a sub-national level, please explain the jurisdictional limits

The licence to practise in Portugal is national but a lawyer must register in the district in which he has his office. 

Are there certain activities that are "reserved" to those who are licensed to practise law in the jurisdiction?




The following activities are reserved to lawyers in Portugal by Law No. 49/2004 of 24 August (Article 1):  preparation of contracts and preparatory acts leading to the establishment, modification or termination of legal transactions, including those charged with the registries and notaries; negotiating for the recovery of credits;  the exercise of a mandate in the context of a complaint or contesting administrative or tax acts.
the exercise of a mandate in the context of a complaint or contesting administrative or tax acts; Legal Advice (with solicitadores); preparation of contracts and the practice of preparatory acts leading to the establishment, modification or termination of legal transactions (with legal agents).

Do you need to hold local nationality to be eligible to practise law?


What legal forms can lawyers work in? (e.g. self employment, partnership, limited liability partnership, multi-disciplinary partnership, incorporation)

Not regulated

What other ethical or regulatory requirements must a licensed lawyer comply with? 

Law 15/2005 contains the Bar Association's Code of Conduct.

Do law firms need to receive a "license" (or permission/approval) to practice law?

There is no licensing requirement for law firms in Portugal.

Which authority issues licences? Are there different authorities for individuals and firms? 

The Ordem dos Advogados (the Portuguese Bar Association) is the competent authority for issuing licences to lawyers (the Cédula profissional) (see http://www.oa.pt)



Are there any explicit rules or restrictions other than visas on fly in fly out practice of law? Ie. Do you need to obtain a licence for temporary practice?

The provision of temporary services in Portugal by a lawyer from a non-EU Member State under his/her home title is not permitted. EEA lawyers may practise temporarily as a result of the Lawyers Services Directive (77/249/EEC). 

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a visa to visit clients or to market but not to practice?

Portugal is one of the 25 countries in Europe that has signed the Schengen agreement. This allows a non-EEA national to obtain a visa to enter one or more of the Schengen countries for business or tourism purposes on a single visit of up to 90 days, or to make multiple entries to the Schengen area on any number of occasions over a 180 day period, provided none of these is for longer than 90 days.  A number of non-EEA countries are exempt from visa requirements.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a licence to establish and practise as a foreign legal consultant and what is the scope of this limited licence?

Foreign lawyers may practise in Portugal under their home country title in the law of their home country or public international law.  EEA lawyers may establish under their home title and additionally practise local law in association with a Portuguese lawyer.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled once a foreign lawyer has been granted a limited licence (e.g. residency requirement)

An EEA lawyer must register with the relevant local bar in Portugal, practise under his home title and comply with the Portuguese code of conduct.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled for a foreign lawyer to qualify for a limited licence? (e.g. prior practice)

An EEA lawyer must hold EEA nationality and an EEA legal qualification.

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation? Under the 2011 Portuguese Arbitration Act, an arbitrator must be a natural person, have full legal capacity and must be independent and
impartial.  There is nothing to prevent foreign lawyers from undertaking arbitration.

Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances?

European Union/EFTA and Swiss lawyers may all appear in court provided they do so in association with a local lawyer. Other nationals are not permitted to appear in court.

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?




In order to be admitted as a Portuguese lawyer, an applicant must pass the Bar Examination and be admitted to the Portuguese Bar Association. Foreign nationals with degrees from any Law Faculty in Portugal may become members of the Portuguese Bar Association, provided that their country grants reciprocity. Brazilian lawyers with degrees from any law faculty in Brazil may become members of the Portuguese Bar Association on the basis of reciprocity. Lawyers from other EEA Member States may either requalify by taking the Portuguese Bar examination or by continuous and effective practise in Portugal for a period of three years.


Can a foreign law firm obtain a licence to open an office?

There is no separate law firm licensing regime for foreign law firms. EEA law firms must however be registered.

Even if a foreign law firm does not require a legal licence must they register in some form in order to set up an office? (e.g. with a ministry of company affairs etc)

Authorization is required for investments by non-EC companies.


Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc)


Is there a quota on the number of licences available?


Are there geographical restrictions on foreign firm licences or on the number of branches a foreign firm can have?


Are there "scope of practice" rules that apply directly to foreign law firms (as opposed to lawyers themselves)? (e.g. home, host, international law), if so, what are they?

There are no scope of practice rules that apply to firms as opposed to individual lawyers.

Are there restrictions on the corporate form a foreign law firm can take? EEA law firms are subject to the same rules on corporate form as local law firms.
Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? The Establishment Directive (98/5/EC) makes it clear that EU law firms may use the name of their law firm they use in their home country. The host Member State may require that, in addition mention is made of the legal form of the grouping in the home Member State and/or of the names of any members of the grouping practising in the host Member State.
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL EEA lawyers must register their offices with the local Portuguese bar in the area where they are established.


Are there restrictions on the ownership share of foreign lawyers in a law firm?

There are no restrictions on the ownership share of EEA lawyers in a Portuguese law firm.

May a domestic lawyer be employed by a foreign lawyer or law firm?

There is no prohibition on employment of a Portuguese lawyer by an EEA lawyer or law firm.

Can a domestic lawyer enter into partnership with a foreign lawyer?

A Portuguese lawyer may enter partnership with an EEA lawyer

Can a domestic lawyer or domestic law firm employ a foreign lawyer?

Yes but only under their home title.



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Ordem dos Advogados

Krajowa Rada Radców Prawnych - National Council of Legal Advisors

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