LACCA Approved: André de Luizi Correia

Litigation Firm: CFGS Advogados (São Paulo) Brazil

André de Luizi Correia

André de Luizi Correia is a founding partner of Correia, Fleury, Gama e Silva Advogados. He has a vast experience in litigation, arbitration, banking and finance, and administrative and regulatory law. He is a member of the Brazilian Bar Association, São Paulo section (1996–), the support and research committee of Revista de Processo (2000–), the advisory board of Revista de Arbitragem e Mediação – Editora RT (2010–), and the committee for banking law studies at the Brazilian Bar Association, São Paulo section (2014–).

Thought Leaders 2018 - Interview with André de Luizi Correia

Can you describe your career to date?

I have practised law for more than 25 years. I started my career in 1992, working as a trainee at Abreu Sampaio Advocacia, a litigation boutique in São Paulo formed by a former judge of São Paulo Court of Appeals. I obtained my JD from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC/SP) in 1995 and right after that I applied for the LLM programme in civil procedural law at the same university, which I completed in 1999.

Since 2000, I have been lecturing on procedural law for the specialisation programme at PUC/SP. In 2005, I joined one of the most highly regarded dispute resolution firms in Brazil, where I co-headed the litigation team in São Paulo for more than 10 years. While working at that firm with one of the pioneers in arbitration in Brazil, I had the opportunity to handle many arbitration cases, until I became co-head of the firm’s arbitration team. In 2015, I decided to establish my own firm, CFGS – Correia, Fleury, Gama e Silva Advogados, a dispute resolution boutique focused on high-profile judicial cases and commercial arbitration.

Why did you decide to specialise in litigation?

It was not actually a conscious decision of mine to specialise in litigation. I have worked with great litigators since the early stages of my career and, after years of practice, I also had the opportunity to work with great arbitration practitioners. Working closely with these highly qualified professionals enabled me to learn and develop the skills that make a good litigator throughout the years. Dealing with so many different cases and such a variety of legal debates is something that has always fascinated me and encouraged me to keep focused on this practice area.  It is really difficult to become bored with litigation. Each case brings with it a new discussion and new challenges.

What has been the most memorable dispute you have worked on?

There are a number of cases I would say have been the most memorable for me. The first is a dispute in Brazil concerning the gas industry. This case involved a series of lawsuits between the biggest gas distributor and the biggest gas supplier in Brazil regarding the competence, under Brazil’s Federal Constitution, for delivering natural gas and refinery gas to large companies. I represented the distribution company. In addition to this case, I worked on several actions filed against financial institutions following the 2008 crisis, discussing derivatives and hedge-fund contracts, which were complex matters that had never been discussed before the Brazilian courts. More recently, a billionaire dispute concerning the construction of one of Brazil’s biggest hydropower plants, involving multiple areas of law (civil law, environmental law, electricity regulation).

Brazil has one of the highest levels of litigation in the region, why do you think this is the case?

Three factors may play an important role in influencing the high level of litigation in Brazil. Firstly, a huge population of more than 200 million people (according to Brazil’s National Board of Justice, there is approximately one lawsuit for every four people). Secondly, the number of cases involving the three levels of government. More than 50 per cent of the cases filed before the Supreme Court, for instance, involve discussions with the federal government and its bodies. And finally, the fact that, except for arbitration (which has grown significantly in Brazil in recent years), Brazilian citizens and corporations are still not very familiar with the alternative means for dispute resolution, such as conciliation and mediation.

How has litigation as a specialisation evolved since you began your practice?

Twenty-five years ago, litigation was the basis of the legal profession in the country. Every lawyer was a bit of a litigator. Before specialising in contracts or mergers and acquisitions, for instance, a young lawyer would handle a couple of judicial cases. During the 1990s and the 2000s however, small firms have merged into big full-service firms and while lawyers were becoming much more specialised in certain areas of law, litigation became a supporting area. Young lawyers did not want to be litigators, but capital market lawyers or environmental lawyers. After an investment boom in Brazil from 2005 to 2013, there was a significant growth in the number of complex disputes, involving huge amounts at stake. Clients then realised that experienced litigators, with solid backgrounds, could make the difference between winning or losing, pursuing an endless claim or entering a reasonable and profitable settlement. I believe that it was during this time that the legal community started seeing litigation as a truly specialised area of the legal profession. 

How do you think alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation and arbitration are developing in Brazil?

Arbitration has made considerable advances in Brazil over the past few years. The number of cases, both domestic and international, have increased drastically and Brazilian courts (including the Supreme Court and the Superior Court of Justice) have become almost uniformly supportive of arbitration as a form of dispute resolution. The state of São Paulo has recently created specialised first instance courts to handle all arbitration-related matters, such as interim relief, enforcement of arbitral awards and annulment actions. First instance business courts are also available in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

I would say that Brazil is an arbitration-friendly country and arbitration has become the preferred means for resolving high-profile infrastructure, energy and M&A disputes in the country. Brazil has experienced and reliable arbitration institutions, such as the Arbitration and Mediation Center of the Chamber of Commerce Brazil-Canada (CAM/CCBC) and the São Paulo Chamber for Mediation and Arbitration (FIESP/CIESP), among others. Even the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has recently established a case management team in São Paulo, to handle the growing number of ICC cases involving Brazilian parties.

How has Brazil’s political and economic situation impacted work for your firm over the past year?

The political turbulence and economic crisis of recent years have obviously raised many tensions between investors and government bodies, as well as between contracting parties in general, which consequently resulted in a large number of new conflicts. However, due to the great number of appeals available under Brazilian law, the duration of a judicial case can be really long. One of the major challenges for litigators in Brazil is to achieve an efficient and quick resolution for disputes, which most of the time can be accomplished through negotiation. The balance between going to war (or being prepared to do so) and negotiating an amicable solution is key for effective dispute resolution in the current scenario.

In your opinion, what skills make a successful litigation lawyer and what makes you stand out to clients?

Strategic thinking and planning, attention to detail, deep knowledge of substantial and procedural law and perseverance. I try to combine these elements in my daily practice by dedicating considerable time and effort to planning and reviewing a case before going to court. Listening to the client and digging into all available documents is crucial too. I also keep myself updated with any new developments and case law. 

When it comes to overcoming obstacles, I try to stay focused on the goals that I must achieve to resolve my client’s problem, no matter how many appeals need to be filed. I learned from wise older lawyers who are currently in their 70s or 80s (and still winning) to never give up. 


LACCA Approved

Administrative Law

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Banking & Finance

Capital Markets

Corporate / M&A


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