Souto Correa adds arbitration counsel to its Asia desk

 

Latin Lawyer

23 August 2019

Brazilian law firm Souto Correa Advogados has strengthened its arbitration practice and expanded its Asia desk by hiring a Mandarin-speaking lawyer from the Chamber of Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration in São Paulo as counsel.

Luis Alberto Salton Peretti, 38, joined the firm on Monday. He served the last two years as secretary general at the chamber and was previously a senior associate at Trench Rossi Watanabe. Peretti is fluent in Mandarin and has experience dealing with Chinese companies and law firms.

At Souto Correa, Peretti rejoins former colleague and disputes partner Ricardo Quass Duarte. Duarte came to the firm in April from Trench Rossi, where the two previously worked together.

Souto Correa’s partner and disputes head Guilherme Rizzo Amaral says arbitration work has increased enormously, particularly in construction, since Brazil’s economic crisis ended in 2016.

The firm is not only strengthening its arbitration team through hires, but through internal training programmes too. Amaral says several of the firm’s young arbitrators are studying and working abroad, while the practice is integrating lawyers from its corporate and projects teams.

The hire also strengthens the firm’s Asia desk. Amaral, who speaks some Mandarin, heads the desk. He says Peretti’s language skills and familiarity with Chinese clients is an important asset to the firm.

Souto Correa launched its Asia desk in 2014. It also has one Mandarin and one Japanese-speaking senior associate.

The firm’s Asia desk plays an important role for the firm. China’s Belt and Road Initiative envisions infrastructure projects across the globe worth trillions of dollars. Brazil is not affiliated with the programme, but has voiced interest in the past and is already Latin America’s biggest recipient of Chinese investment.

The International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) launched a special commission on the Belt and Road Initiative in 2018. Amaral, who is a member of the chamber, says there are signs everywhere of China’s growing presence in Latin America. “We have to interpret them and act accordingly, and that is what we are doing by strengthening our Asia desk,” Amaral says.

Last month Amaral was appointed Latin American president of the International Association of Defence Counsel (IADC). He will hold the position for a year. IADC, which has its 100th anniversary this year, is a group for corporate and insurance defence lawyers with some 2,500 members. It shares and develops knowledge among defence lawyers and provides input on reforms and developments in the legal profession.