Dealing with legal issues in Portugal can often be frustrating. With a legal system very different to that which clients may be accustomed to in their home country, expectations of service and language barriers can raise additional and at times unforeseen issues.
Portugal as a country
Portugal is the most Western country in Europe. Unlike it’s neighbours it looks out to the Atlantic rather than the Mediterranean. Portuguese territory also includes the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores, both of which are also in the Mediterranean. Its official language is Portuguese.
The Portuguese Legal System
The legal system in Portugal is Codified and is based on similar principals that you would see in Spain, Italy and France. In fact Portuguese law is based on the Roman and French legal systems but also has some influence from German law. As Portugal is part of the EU there is also heavy influences from EU law.
Portuguese Law is made up of a Constitution and a series of Codified Laws such as the Civil Code, the Penal Code, the Commercial Code and so on.
The Portuguese legal system has had an influence on other countries that have a strong history with Portugal including Brazil and Cape Verde.
In Portugal the Notarial system is used for certain transactions such as the purchase and sale of properties, making a Will, dealing with an Inheritance and so on. Notaries get involved at the end of the transaction and are not a substitute for having a lawyer as they don’t deal with the whole transaction. The role of a Notary is limited to making sure that you are who you are, to witnessing the signature of the Deed and to making sure that you are not being pressured into signing something that you don’t want to.
Judicare Law and Portugal
We have been dealing with Portugal and Portuguese law for many years and as such are well versed in how the legal system works, particularly with those issues that British people for example may need assistance with. We have an established track record of successfully assisting clients with their legal issues.
We work very closely with our team on the ground in Portugal who are all highly experienced Portuguese lawyers. We cover the whole of Portugal including the mainland and the archipelagos of The Azores and Madeira. Whilst our colleagues in Portugal speak English the main day to day client contact is through our office in the UK. This removes the costs to our clients of international calls and working within Portuguese office hours; which do vary from those in the UK. Clients are able to have the advantage of dealing with a UK based firm of Solicitors whilst still having the benefits of having Portuguese lawyers on the ground in Portugal.
What areas of Portuguese law can we assist with?
Judicare can assist with a wide range of different legal issues which involve Portuguese law. These include, but are not limited to;
- Helping you on the legal side of buying or selling a property in Portugal either for your own personal use as a holiday home either to live there or for an investment to rent out.
- Inheriting a property in Portugal. This can be done whether there was a Portuguese Will, a UK Will or even no Will at all. We can also work with your UK lawyers to make sure that the inheritance in both countries is co-ordinated.
- Making a Portuguese Will. If you own a property in Portugal it makes sense to have a Portuguese Will to make sure that your wishes are complied with in the easiest and most tax effective way possible for your family.
- Recovery of investments in off plan properties that were not completed. We have a long and successful track record of recovering money that was paid for property investments in Portugal, typically where the property was not completed and the purchaser wants to recover the money previously paid.
- The recovery of debts due to you by people in Portugal
- Getting you out of your Portuguese Timeshare. We can assist with cancelling a timeshare that you have just purchased or one that you have owned for many years.
- Setting up a small business
- Assistance with mortgage problems including negotiating with the bank for a change in mortgage conditions and rates or even a change in interest rate and a reduction in the amount due.
- Portuguese lawyers are called “Advogados”.
- A large percentage of lawyers in Portugal are sole practitioners and operate as one single lawyer.
- Advogados must be a member of the Portuguese Bar Association (Ordem dos Advogados)
- In Portugal you re qualified as an Advogado after you pass your degree and exams. In the UK you have to train as a lawyer at a law firm for 2 years before you are fully qualified. The thought process behind the system in the UK is that the training process at a firm teaches you how to act as a Solicitor rather than just what the law says and you learn about ethics, the Solicitors Accounts Rules, how to draft real life letters and documents and how to deal with clients rather than just the theoretical legal aspects of the law.
- Portuguese lawyers, just like their British counterparts, are required to have Professional Indemnity Insurance to cover the advice that they give. The minimum level of cover in Portugal is, however, significantly lower than in the UK. In Portugal the minimum level of Professional Indemnity Insurance is currently €250,000 whereas the minimum level in the UK is £3 million per claim. If a law firm in Portugal is a Limited Liability Company then the minimum level of Professional Indemnity Insurance is different and must cover 50% of the previous year’s turnover with a minimum of €50,000 and a maximum of €5 million