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NCBA Delegation Reports From Portugal

NCBA Delegation Reports From Portugal

No excursion to Portugal would be complete without a tour of Lisbon.

The 2015 NCBA Attorney Exchange to Portugal took place April 17-29. The program was coordinated by the International Law & Practice Section.

Delegation members were R. Lynn Coleman, Claire Collins, Linda Markus Daniels, Richard Gabriel, Charles George, Andrew Hanley, Deborah Hildebran-Bachofen, Jeremy S. Keever, Kurt Lindquist, Don Nielsen, David Robinson, Rebecca Rushton, Camilla Schupp, Jason Spain and Carole Spainhour.

Delegation members filed the following daily blog reports which were posted to the NCBA website.

April 17:  The Exchange Begins
Linda Markus Daniels, delegation co-leader
After months of planning and anticipation, this evening 15 delegates boarded a plane to Lisbon to begin the Exchange program between the North Carolina Bar Association and the Portuguese Ordem dos Advogados. The general purpose of the Exchange is to provide a forum for the professional exchange of ideas and information between legal practitioners from the two Bar Associations, as well as to promote friendship and understanding between North Carolina attorneys and the attorneys, professors, judges and other legal professionals of Portugal through the sharing of both cultural and practical information about our legal systems. The North Carolina Bar Association delegation is travelling with these objectives in mind, and expects to host a return delegation from Portugal to North Carolina next year.

The delegates are a diverse group. Of the 15 delegates, 8 are male and 7 are female. We attended 12 different law schools:  Duke University (2), University of North Carolina (2), Wake Forest (2), Campbell, Elon, North Carolina Central University, Charlotte Law School, De Paul, Georgetown, University of Oregon, Tulane and Charleston School of Law. We are also are geographically diverse, practicing law in Raleigh (5), Winston-Salem (2), Charlotte, Asheville, Kitty Hawk, Chapel Hill, Durham, Greensboro, Fayetteville, and Wilmington. We work for diverse entities: 2 solo practitioners, 5 at firms with five or fewer attorneys, 4 at medium sized firms, 3 at very large firms, and one at an organization. Finally, we even have diversity in age, ranging from 25 to age 65: 25-30 (3), 30-50 (3), 50-60 (4), and 60-65(5).

We know we have a full agenda ahead of us. It has been designed to  allow the delegates to capture an understanding of the practical and regulatory issues related to the practice of law in Portugal, the function and operation of different courts, the courses taken and process of legal education and admission to the bar, and in general the differences and similarities in our legal systems. During our time in Portugal we will visit and meet with judges/justices at 5 courts, ranging from the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court to courts of first instance, and five law firms which have prepared educational program for the delegates followed by an opportunity for social interactions with the members of the firms. We will also visit a wide range of agencies, such as the regulators of securities and of port wine, the General Prosecutors office, the Ministry of Health and the Parliament. We will round out the mix with visits to Law schools, political parties and the Agency for Innovation.

Of course we also have an opportunity obtain some in-depth knowledge of the history of Portugal by visiting a variety of historical sites from Portugal’s long history, including several UNESCO world heritage sites.

And so, the adventure begins. Watch our progress in the daily blogs.

Delegation members prepare to visit Pena National Palace

April 18: Starting Out
Andrew Hanley
We arrived in Lisbon and made it to the Hotel at around 0900. Lisbon is a port city set on low hills that rise slowly from the wide Tagus River. It is the capital of Portugal and is said to have a population of 3 million.             

At 1420 we took a bus to Sintra. Sintra was the summer home of the emperors of Portugal. Prior to the Portuguese the Moors, Romans and Celts had palaces or castles on these hills.  The name Sintra comes from Cynthia the Celtic moon goddess. Sintra castle is high on a hill and is cooled by breezes coming off the ocean 20 miles away.  We could see the ocean.

Sintra palace was built in the 13th century and used until the 19th century as a retreat and hunting lodge. In the 19th century nobles from Lisbon built houses on the steep hills surrounding the castle to be near the emperor. It is an impressive palace and colorful town. There are many restaurants in the narrow streets and many tourists.

Next we went to Pena palace. This is a small palace built in the 19th century in a whimsical style. The Disney castle is modeled on the Pena palace. The same architect also designed Ludwig's castle in Bavaria. The castle is built high on a hill next to the ruins of a 9th century Moorish castle. Pena was built by the German consort of the empress.

We then had a group dinner at a restaurant near the hotel. We ate at the unfashionable early time of 8 p.m. – most Lisboans eat after 10.

The monument of Discoveries provides a stunning backdrop for this delegation photo.

April 19: Touring Lisbon
Cami Schupp
We began the morning early touring the neighborhood of Belem where the Tagus River flows into the Atlantic. First stop, Tower of Belem, a fortress on the banks of the river built to defend Lisbon in the times of maritime exploration. We walked on past the Combatants Museum which honors those who died in the colonial wars.

Next we visited the very large Monument of Discoveries, which depicts a ship with Henry the Explorer at the Helm leading various Portuguese historical figures that took part in early Portuguese maritime exploration including Vasco de Gama. In front of this monument is a marble world map showing the years in which the Portuguese “conquered” various areas of Africa, India and into China and Japan. We learned that many different languages today still incorporate Portuguese vocabulary dating back to these times of exploration, including the Japanese word for Fish, “sakana” which is the Portuguese word for “Bastards.”  The Japanese offered them raw fish upon their arrival, “those bastards,” the Portuguese said at being served raw fish. The Portuguese then also taught them tempura!

We visited the Church of Saint Jeronimo, which was crowded with tourists at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning. We were given wireless earphones so we could hear our wonderful tour guide, Gloria, since there is no loud talking allowed inside. We saw many examples of Manueline Decoration, artistic depictions of maritime symbols, a style preferred by King Manuel. Tombs of many royal figures are in this church and under these floors.

Next we watched the changing of the guards in front of the Presidential Palace complete with three marching bands, one with blond pony tails atop their helmets and another mounted on horses with checkerboards shaved into the horses’ backsides. There was much pomp and circumstance with the President of Portugal overseeing the hour-long ceremony. They conduct this ritual on the third Sunday of every month.

We ate Pastel de Belem (egg cream pastries) under an orange tree. This secret recipe has been made since 1837 with the recipe known only by three chefs at a time who are not allowed to write or repeat the recipe until it is handed down to the next chef. Topped off with cinnamon and powdered sugar – delicious! 

We walked on to the Coach Museum which, I confess, I thought would be boring. Instead we saw about 12 incredibly ornate horse-drawn carriages built for kings and queens or as gifts for the Pope. One had a built-in privy (a hole in the seat) and others were decorated with gold thread and velvet.   

We picnicked in the park then moved on to Alfama, the oldest neighborhood of Lisbon. It is hilly!  We visited cathedrals, enjoyed beautiful overlooks, walked downhill through a labyrinth of stairs and residential apartments then found a few quiet minutes to savor some sangria and shop.

We drove around other neighborhoods of Lisbon, Chiado and Barrio Alto. We stopped at amazing overlooks of Lisbon and the river and saw the Plaza of Commerce by the river with its grand arch. We rode a funicular (cable car or elevator) but did not take the one named after our guide, Gloria.

The day ended on a boat on the Tagus River complete with music, wine, grilled chicken and pork, chocolate cake with pineapple, much laughter and delicious aged Tawny Port (thanks to Richard Gabriel). Our views from the river of the same monuments and plazas we had seen earlier in the day from the street-side were stunning.

Other fun facts learned during these 14 hours of touring Lisbon:  The US Embassy is not located near most of the other embassies in the Belem neighborhood, it is near the zoo; Much of Lisbon was built from pepper profits; the oranges growing on the trees throughout Lisbon are not sweet and delicious even though they smell that way; in 1834 all monks and nuns were expelled from the cloisters of Portuguese monasteries and the cloisters were then used to house state offices; there are 3 “funiculares” or elevators in Lisbon used to ascend and descend the steep hills of the city, most built in the early 1900s; and finally, sadly, most shops in Lisbon are closed on Sunday.

Delegation members visited Portugal's Supreme Court.

April 20: Portuguese Bar Association
David Robinson
Wearing our lawyer clothes for the first time, we departed early for the Ordem dos Advogados, the Portuguese Bar Association. Little did we appreciate the breadth and depth of the day´s sessions. Or, the splendor of the settings of some of our meetings! Formalities were duly exchanged by Vice President Pedro Biscaia and Delegation co-chair Richard Gabriel. Mr. Biscaia also provided our delegation with a tour and some history of their bar association.

Founded in 1926 to “uphold the rule of law and citizen´s rights, freedoms and guarantees, and to assist in the administration of justice,” this is the national bar association of Portugal. Mr. Gabriel extended a formal invitation for a return visit to North Carolina next year. We also toured their most impressive facility – a palace, actually – which includes a public library of some 40,000 volumes. A few “familiar faces” were recognizable in the stacks.

Ms. Sandra Horta e Silva was then invited to present on their Legal Aid system, an impressive program of providing access to justice for those who cannot afford a lawyer. With almost 12,000 participating lawyers, an annual caseload of roughly 215,000 cases, and an annual budget of 37 million Euros, the Bar Association is understandably proud of this program. All correspondence is electronic, even among the four government agencies involved: the social security institute provides financial means screening, the police agencies provide a form of ´Miranda Rights,` the Bar Association connects clients to their lawyers, and the Ministry of Justice pays the lawyers for their services.

All cases are handled for a set fee. Clients are represented like any other private clients, except that an attorney participating in this legal aid program must accept referred cases. Every interaction with a court in Portugal is eligible for the Legal Aid program. We were then treated to a presentation on a general overview of the practice of law in Portugal. We learned the differences between bailiffs and lawyers, and the different educational and training tracks for prosecutors, judges, and attorneys.

We were introduced to the judicial system, including the Courts of First Instance, the Appeals Courts and the Supreme Court of Justice, as well as the Constitutional Court. We learned who can practice not only in Portugal but within the European Union, and how Portuguese lawyers organize and run their law firms. Additional topics included insurance coverage, fee dispute arbitrations, no contingency fees, and appointed judges. CLE in a palace, we agreed that we can get used to this! 

We were just getting started though. It was off to the Portuguese Supreme Court for a tour of – you guessed it – another re-purposed palace, where the VP of the Supreme Court described the jurisdiction of their court, from the bench of a truly impressive court room (and after a facility tour as well). He walked us through the 30,000 Euro threshold of their cases and how appeal rights differ depending on lower court treatment of a case.

Like our system, the Supreme Court is an appellate court concerned only with issues of law, and not facts. We learned about the functions of the (different) Constitutional Court and their audit and jurisdictional conflict resolution functions. Interestingly, we learned that Portugal has 18x more fishing square kilometers than any other EU country (most of the Atlantic, actually) but has its lost fishing rights sovereignty to the EU. Supreme Court judges are appointed by parliament (10 judges) and by a vote of the sitting judges (an additional 3 judges). The Supreme Court is independent and their decisions are the supreme law of the land. Also of interest: many lawyers with cases before the Supreme Court choose to rely exclusively on written briefs and seldom even attend the court session. Each Justice handles about 80 cases a year.

Next up on our vertical learning curve was the Ethics Council of Lisbon, a volunteer 20-member panel, meeting twice a month to handle complaints against lawyers brought by clients, judges and other lawyers. 6 staff attorneys handle an average of 8 cases a day. Their focus is decidedly in the public interest. There is, of course, a written code of ethics and attorneys do have a right to defend themselves. There is an expressed focus on Legal Aid situations, as involving both the trust and the funds of the public. We discussed the wide range of issues they confront. We also discussed advertising, in Portugal and throughout the EU, and bar reciprocity in Macao, Brazil, Angola and Mozambique.

Our final discussion on reciprocity provided the proper introduction to our next and final valuable learning experience of the day. At our first law firm visit we began, as with our other visits, with a tour of their impressive law offices. We then learned a bit more about Portugal´s history: 9 Centuries of well-defined borders, and the 17th most peaceful country in the world, to name two such facts. There was some discussion of the Portugal 2020 EU program and issues related to the bailout, and resulting austerity.

This second largest law firm in Portugal also has offices in Angola, Mozambique, Macao, Cape Verde and Brazil, and we discussed these former colonies as well. Perhaps most interestingly, we discussed the Portuguese version of our EB-5 program, a form of private equity in exchange for residency. Their impressive program accords not only residency in Portugal, and by extension the rest of the EU, but certain tax benefits as well. For a half million Euro investment in real estate, a million Euros in committed business capital, or a million Euros merely sitting in a Portuguese bank account, a foreign national can obtain a ´golden visa.´  Needless to say, the minimal to no risk nature of their program has proven to be quite popular with foreign capital, primarily from China.

In between we experienced a cloudless, sunny day, had lunch in the oldest cafe in Lisbon - opened in 1782 - and experienced a group bonding experience over dinner involving back-to-back challenges of grilled octopus and a wonderful meal that just never seemed to end. A very full day - in every sense of the term!

April 21: Lisbon
Kurt Lindquist
Today was a very busy day of appointments in Lisbon led by our wonderful and gracious host Ana Cristina Delgado, Senior Advisor, from the Portugal Bar Association – the Ordem Dos Advogados. It was another beautiful day in the country of explorers – sunny skies and temperatures of a low of 55 degrees F to a high of 72 degrees F later in the day.

We began our day with a visit with Mr. Jorge Oliveira, Vice Consul General of the General Prosecutor’s office in Lisbon. The General Prosecutor’s office has functions similar to that of the Attorney General in the U.S. and is headed by the Consul General who is in charge of administering an extensive network of prosecutors who work in the courts of Portugal and who ensure the just and legal disposition of cases filed Portugal’s criminal and civil courts. The Office of the General Counsel is housed in the 18th century palace that was constructed and occupied previously by Queen Amelia of Portugal, who was a patron of the arts and who left to Portugal a lovely compound in the heart of Lisbon filled with extraordinary art and elaborately decorated rooms. Mr. Oliveira described the organizational framework of the Portugal’s prosecutorial work and explained that every court and case – whether civil or criminal – has a prosecutor who participates and oversees every case that is filed and heard in the court system. As a representative of the State and in conformance with the principle of equal justice for all citizens of Portugal, should the prosecutor determine that the law of Portugal was not followed in some procedural or substantive manner, the prosecutor has the right to direct an appeal (without consent of the parties) to the appropriate Court of Appeals for review.

Next, the Delegation received a tour of the Católica School of Law in Lisbon, a private law school of world renown in Portugal. We were greeted by Luís Barreto Xavier, Dean of the Law School, who provided us with a brief history of the institution and a discussion of the legal education process in Portugal. Dean Barreto Xavier explained the role of Católica School of Law specifically in educating its students. In Portugal, law students begin their study of law in a four year program, in the typical European style, which is similar to the US undergraduate degree in a college or university. The program focuses on law, the history of laws, civil procedure, international law and other subjects that are highly proscribed by the curriculum offered. Católica offers several LLM programs which can range from one to two years where students are offered more extensive view into the study of law. Two programs were highlighted by Dean Barreto Xavier:  1) an LLM in European and Global Context; and, 2) an LLM in International Business Law. Católica School of Law has been successful in attracting a large number of foreign students to the law school, especially in the Master of Laws program where the faculty consists of a number of law professors from the US and other countries. Católica enjoys a correspondent and close relationship with Duke University’s School of Law.

Next the Delegation was hosted by the law firm of Morais Leitao, Galvao Teles, Soares Da Silva, Avogados, one of the premier and largest firms in Portugal. We were hosted by senior partner, Filipa Arantes Pedroso and two of her partners, Miguel de Almada and Filipe Vas Pinto, who treated us to an interesting exposition on the civil court system in Portugal and an explanation of how arbitration (both domestic and international) is used in Portugal. The lawyers of the firm informed of us of the growing role of arbitration in the Portugal civil law system, the favorable attitude it is given by the courts in Portugal and the development of international litigations in Portugal where the International Court of Commerce (“ICC”) based in Paris is the primary institutional arbitration administrator for commercial arbitrations in Portugal.

Next, the Delegation was received by the Portuguese Security Market Commission, also known as the CMVM, which was established in April of 1991 and charged with the task of supervising and regulating securities and other financial institutions which participate in the various Stock Markets of Portugal. The CMVM has a Management Board, which is comprised of a Chairman, Vice Chairman and three Members, which are appointed by the Council of Ministers at the suggestion of the Minister of Finance, for a six-year term, after hearings in Parliament. Our hosts led by Assistant Director Maria Ruiz de Velasco explained and detailed the CMVM’s: 1) organization, mission and objectives; 2) securities offerings in Portugal; 3) regulation of insider trading; and, 4) organization of the legal and litigation department.

The Delegation then met with Dr. Miguel Lopes Romao, Professor of Law at Universidade de Lisboa, School of Law. The University of Lisbon School of Law, established in 1913, is the one of the larger public law schools in Portugal. Professor Romao explained that the tuition of the public law schools in less than 10% of the tuition charged by private law schools in Portugal. The Lisbon School of Law has an enrollment of approximately 4000 students and offers three primary degree programs: 1) undergraduate law; 2) masters of law; and, 3) a doctor of laws. The mission of the Lisbon University School of Law is to provide service to the community in mutual appreciation, to establish cultural, education, and scientific exchanges with public and private, national and foreign entities, and to contribute within their activities for the development of the country and international cooperation. Professor Lopes Romao explained that most students chose to enter the private practice of law while other students enter the very competitive schools of training for prosecutors and judges in Portugal. Other students may opt to enter positions in the various government agencies and positions of administration for private companies. As the school of law has one of the best and largest libraries in the country, we were treated to a viewing of several legal texts dating from the 13th, 15th, and 16th centuries.

Our final meeting of the day was at Barrocas & Associados Law Firm where we were treated to a spirited and informative presentation on employment law in Portugal. Ricardo Grilo explained that since the adoption of the Portugal employment code in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, the law of Portugal has emphasized the protection of rights of the employees in the country. As a result of an extensive body of regulation, Mr. Grilo explained that there is no employment “at will” in Portugal and that the employees are granted certain vacation, holidays and excused absences from work that, with the exception of very narrow exceptions, are protected from employer interference.

All in all, the day was a wonderfully informative one of all things legal in Portugal amidst plentiful sunshine, wonderful food and warm and affable hosts.

Delegates visit Conselho Distrital de Évora - Ordem dos Advogados.

April 22: Evora
Jason Spain
We begin our sixth day of the NCBA Attorney Exchange driving from Lisbon to Setubal with our local guide Gloria. We cross the Tagus River on the April 25th Bridge, a Golden Gate look alike that we have been using as a landmark in the city since our initial day of touring and our river cruise earlier in the week. As we cross the bridge around 8:45 a.m., the city’s transportation system is in full effect around us, with commuters streaming past us on cars, trains, and ferry boats heading into the city center while we head out. As we near the far side of the bridge, the 300’ statute of Christ stands on a cliff face to our left, looking over the city of Lisbon with arms outstretched.

A short drive brings us to Setubal, a southern city known for pastries and wine production. After a quick stop to try the local sweets, we move on to the Jose Maria da Fonseca winery tour and tasting. The family heritage of this local winery is that of the oldest commercial producer of table wine in Portugal as well as the first to market the distinctive Setubal Moscatel, a sweet fortified wine that is distinctive for this region. The winery tour focuses on their founder’s legacy, which is to improve upon winemaking tradition by researching and applying the latest techniques to improve the efficiency and quality of wine production from their vineyards in Setubal and around southern Portugal.

After our tour of the winery, we board the bus again and begin heading for Evora, our main cultural experience for the day. As we drive we can see the city of Lisbon in the distance, and the vineyards begin to alternate with fields of cork trees as we get closer to our destination. Our first stop in Evora is a cork processing factory outside of the town, but first we drive around the medieval walls of the old city that have been alternately torn down and rebuilt by centuries of conquests and occupations beginning in Roman times.

Our first stop in Evora is a cork processing factory where we get a closer look at our of Portugal’s most unique industries. A processing factory buys raw cork, the bark of the cork tree, from local farmers who hand-cut the outer layers of tree bark from the cork trees every 9 years or so. The process is a craft that must be done by hand to avoid killing the tree, as the depth of the porous outer layer is not uniform around each tree. Once the outer layer of cork is cut and shipped to a factory like the one we are visiting, pallets of cork are boiled for consecutive one hour periods, with time to dry and breathe in between, in order to flatten the cork from its curved raw state. Once the boiling process has made the cork flat and workable, the factory can sort the cork by size and quality and ship the processed pallets to manufacturers around the country who use the cork like leather to create goods that are lightweight and waterproof for sale to consumers around the world.

Perhaps the most interesting demonstration we received was of the various types of bottle corks made from the bark of the cork tree, from pure natural cork to artificial plastic corks. Natural corks, bored straight from the bark layers that are removed from the trees, are the most expensive and the most durable. The market demand for cheaper corks, especially in light of the advent of plastic corks, has inspired ground cork bottle corks, a way to crush and re-use the waste cork that is left over after larger pieces of material are cut for consumer goods. The local factory manager assures us that no decent bottle of wine would use an artificial cork due to its inability to fully seal and protect the product over time.

On our return to the city of Evora we make our way inside the walls and walk through the University of Evora, a public university that is the second oldest in the country having been established as a school in 1559 by Jesuit monks. Currently hosting around 9,000 students in its various degree programs (including law), the University is located near the city center and the ancient roman temple that dates to the first century A.D. The columns still standing from two millennia in the past are one aspect of the city center that justifies its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our tour continues down the hill from the roman temple to the Cathedral of Evora, a religious site notable for one of the few intact statutes of a visibly pregnant Virgin Mary that survived a ban on such images by the Catholic Church during the middle ages. After some time to wander the streets and shops of the city, we end our tour with a visit to the chapel of bones (Capela dos Ossos) attached to the Church of Saint Francis across town. The interior of the chapel was decorated with human remains by a Franciscan monk during the 16th century in order to remind his fellows that life was transitory and that our meditations should focus on more than just the short time we are on the Earth.

Our journeys today have taken us nearly an hour and a half away from our base in Lisbon, so we journey back in time to find dinner and prepare for a day of official visits and formal receptions tomorrow.

April 23: Parliament
Deborah L. Hildebran-Bachofen
On another beautiful day in Portugal, we started our meetings today in the Parliament building with the two main political parties. First we met with Luis Pita Amevla, Filife Neto Brandao, and Jose Magalliaes, members of the Socialist Party. We discussed the electoral process. They informed us that Parliamentary representatives are elected through districts. For election of Parliamentary members, the party chooses who will be on the ticket and people vote a straight ticket of the party they want to elect. They cannot change who is on the list. The smallest district has two members and Lisbon has fifty-one representatives in Parliament. On the Internet, you can find a full version of the constitution that includes Article 113 which has the country's electoral process general principles. The next election will be held in September or October of this year. There are 17 or 18 political parties but only 5 are represented in Parliament. We than had a discussion on how laws are passed. There are two methods for passing a law which is based on whether it is proposed by the government or a political party. If the President vetoes a bill, then it must go back to the Parliament. They informed us that there are 12 committees and all committee meetings are videotaped and shown on a television screen.

They stated that their party is a modern left party and they are looking to make reforms. They acknowledged that the impact of the austerity programs was unavoidable and that people were suffering. In order to make changes the financial impact must be considered and negotiated. Since they are now one of the European Union countries, they have to negotiate with Brussels in order to set taxes and interpret any leeway allowed under the treaty. They then discussed that some progress has been made since 1974 when the country had one million people who could not read and write. The new generation of Portuguese citizens is well qualified and educated. The meeting ended with a   discussion of improvements to the court system which have been made due to the Internet but additional changes are needed to improve court efficiencies.

Next we met with representatives of the Social Democratic Party which is the current party in power and controls the legislature. Before we started our discussions with this party, members of this party gave us a tour of the beautiful building. The Social Democratic Party representative informed us of new reforms to the judicial territories and the passage of a new civil procedure code which he thought would improve court efficiency.

He stated that since the revolution in 1974, the country is now a true democracy. He indicated that it was difficult in the beginning since it was two years before the constitution was adopted in 1976. Now civil rights are normal.

Portugal became a part of the European Union in 1986. The Portuguese  gave away some of their autonomy and now have some constraints, especially due to the austerity program now imposed on the country since it had to borrow 78 million euros from the European Union. Portugal has made much improvement in reducing its debt and is in much better shape than what was negotiated for it with the European Union. Many difficult but not necessarily popular decisions had to be made in order to reduce the country’s debt but the measures put in place to reduce the debt will result in improving the country’s economy. Such debt reduction is moving in the right direction. He also stated that there was improvement in the country’s infrastructure such as better roads. In closing he informed us that you could be a member of the bar and still serve as a representative in Parliament.

We then left the Parliament building and traveled to the Queluz Palace which was inspired in part by the Palace of Versailles. The palace is currently undergoing renovations. The palace is a salmon-pink rococo structure which had served as the summer home of Dom Pedro III in 1747. It has many beautiful rooms, including the Music Salon, the Hall of Ambassadors, and the mirrored Throne Room with crystal chandeliers and gilt trim. After our tour of the palace, we had lunch at Cozinda Velha which was the former kitchen of the palace which has been converted into a nice restaurant. This restaurant is considered one of the best restaurants of the government-run chain of luxury posadas (places to stay). We are served dishes prepared in the Portuguese style. Helena Tomaz, vice-president the Human Rights Committee of the Lisbon Bar Association, joined us at the restaurant. She informed us during lunch that this committee worked on issues relating to rights of prisoners and improving the prison system and also the rights of women, children, and immigrants and improving the immigration process. She informed us that Portugal has a fairly open immigration policy.  She stated that there are 12 members of this committee and all are volunteers who do not get paid for their service.

After lunch we visited with the Ordem dos Notarios (Notaries Association). The president of the association, Joao Maia Rodrigues, lead the discussion concerning the history of notaries in Portugal and the current services provided by notaries. He stated that the country has had notaries for 800 years and this service is one the oldest industries. Early trading precipitated the need for notary services beyond the documents provided in the monasteries and cathedrals. Notary type services started as just being a scrivener or a scribe. Originally, they worked at fairs and only needed a solemn oath to serve. Later they were required to be married and dress professionally. They then had a distinctive seal.

In 1899 scrivenorship was replaced with the services provided by notaries in the country today. The notary council was established in 1926. In 1949 notaries became civil servants and were paid by the government. In 2004 major changes were made and a new statute was adopted for notaries. Now they are paid by their clients. They not only notarize signatures in public documents but actually prepare them. They have to pass a national exam. Even though they have legal training, a person cannot practice as an attorney and a notary. Notaries are empowered by the Ministry of Justice. There are currently 349 notaries in Portugal who can only work in the location approved by the ministry. As a part of the reform, they have exclusive jurisdiction over the preparation of wills and the probate process. They also attest the signatures on all public documents. Challenging a document attested by a notary is very difficult process. Documents attested by notaries are open to public inspection in their office except for Wills which only become public after someone dies. Deeds are also available to view online.

Next we visited the customs office. Several personnel of this office informed us about the coordination of the importation of goods into a European Union country. Mr. Prada led the discussion and there were others of his department who were also present for our visit. He stated that they often were visited by the private sector but this is the first time by lawyers.

Someone then led the discussion giving us an overview of the customs department and customs laws. The European Union is treated as a single territory for customs purposes. There is a common customs tariff on goods and a common system for goods entering the European Union. So no matter which country in the European Union goods are imported into the rules are the same. The European Union has a directive on the VAT system so there may be some differences on the VAT and excise tax imposed on imported goods. Custom goods have a single classification for determining tariffs charged. Then based on the rule of origin, the rate of duty is determined based on the country from which the goods originated. They did inform us that they do have some economic partnerships and some free trade agreements with some countries. Also there are several custom approved treaties for importing goods into European Union. They have a single document for customs declaration and most documents can be done electronically. Usually there are no duties for exporting from European Union but licensing is usually required. They have many controls and taxes on goods which are dangerous or sensitive. They informed us that additional information can be found on their website which also has a help desk.

Our last professional meeting of the day was a visit with the F. Castelo Branco & Associates law firm. Joao Rocha de Almeida gave us a presentation on Portuguese environmental law. Part of the law is governed by the 1976 constitution and the bill of rights which provides for their people to have an economically balanced life. There are also directives of the European Union which have been adopted by Portugal. The environmental impact of projects is studied before the projects are approved. If formal approval is not granted in 100 days, there is tacit approval of a project. As a part of the approval process, there may be conditions imposed. Under certain circumstances, the government may exempt certain projects such as those related to science or energy. Permits are needed for certain kinds of activities in order to measures and try to reduce emissions and access the impact on air, water, soil, waste, and noise.

Failure to comply with the permit process can result in a fine of up to 2.5 million euros. The permit must be issued in no less than 80 days (50 days if an environmental impact study has been done). If there is pollution related to an activity, penalties will be assessed and the operator will be held liable regardless of fault and all directors and managers are held jointly and severally liable. In additional to the fine, additional sanctions may be imposed such as mandatory closing of the facilities, imposing restrictions on engaging in certain economic activities and seizing of assets. Furthermore, criminal charges could be imposed.

Currently, there are not a lot of court cases interpreting their environmental laws. There is one case now making its way through the court system which involved contamination of some reservoirs resulting in a few deaths but this case will take a few years to resolve.

The firm then gave us a nice cocktail party.

We left the firm and went to a fado place for dinner. Fado is a unique musical style to Portugal. The fado singer usually has a black shawl, head thrown back, eyes closed and sings soulfully with emotion. The singer is accompanied by a plaintive guitarra (Portuguese guitar). When the singing begins, the audience becomes silent. The songs portray a message of the lost, poor, oppressed, the abandoned and the rejected. Since we had such a full day, we headed back to the hotel after dinner.

A key component of the Portuguese court system is the Constitutional Court.

April 24: U.S. Embassy
Carole Spainhour
Security was predictably tight gaining entry into the compound, which opens up to a beautiful manor house and grounds. The Quinta do Pinheiro dates back to the 17th century and served first a monastery. There is a private chapel beside the main residence. One interesting fact as related by our tour guide, in Portugal monasteries were always inhabited by men because of their remote locations, while convents were built in cities and could house either men or women.

We were warmly greeted by Ambassador Robert Sherman and his staff. Sherman, a former Boston lawyer, gave us an overview of an Ambassador’s  responsibilities, and  spoke candidly about the need for strategic engagements with friendly nations. Sherman noted that Portugal has always been a very strong ally of the U.S. and quoted a local diplomat who told him “We support the U.S. even when we think the U.S. is wrong, because that is when you need us most.”

Portugal considers itself an “Atlanticist” and looks to the U.S. as a neighbor across the waters, which seems natural when you realize that eventually U.S. and Portugal will share maritime borders. Currently the diplomatic hot topic is the downsizing of the U.S. Air Base in the Azores (a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic) which was built as a refueling station and no longer needed. This is an unpopular move with the Portuguese government.

The Ambassador said that Portugal has been the poster child in dealing with the economic crisis – implementing the austerity measures recommended by the EU. Economic growth must come from developing products to export. A study conducted by MIT’s operations in Portugal found that graduates of Portugal universities were comparable to those from the U.S. in innovation and technical skill. The goal is now to match the innovators to U.S. capital. Portugal has developed a program called “Connect to Success” that seeks to provide coaching to women owned and operated businesses. The first year 24 major companies and 200 women signed on. Every business school in Portugal participates in offering clinical assistance to small businesses.

Margarida Gomez is the legal advisor to the Ambassador and has worked in that capacity for 36 years. She spoke of some thorny legal issues. For example, Portugal refuses to extradite to countries where the accused may face the possibility of death or life imprisonment, but instead offers to prosecute in Portugal. Portugal imposes a maximum sentence of 25 years regardless of the crime.

The Ombudsman – Seeking Justice for the Individual
Provedor de Justicia is housed in a beautiful residence located in an upscale area near the Chinese embassy. The Deputy Ombudsman Jorge Jacob, a former career judge, presented an overview of the office. The office represents the public interest and takes complaints from citizens arising from actions of public companies, armed services, government agencies and concessionaires. The agency is established under the Constitution; there is no equivalent in our system. The Ombudsman is insulated from civil and criminal liability for its official opinions and actions. The office receives about 20,000 complaints each year for issues such as taxes, social benefits and worker issues and pursues resolution with the appropriate government agency or the company. Mr. Jacob reported that more than 50% have favorable outcomes. Due to austerity cuts, the office has handled many requests for restoration of benefits, for example those for disabled children. The office also conducts unannounced inspections of long term care and health care facilities. One major area of concern for the Deputy is the plight of WWII veterans who are now showing evidence of previously undiagnosed PTSD as they reach advanced years. The office acts on their behalf to obtain benefits for their care and treatment.

We enjoyed lunch at Alfandega in the Alfama, in the former customs house located in the medieval quarter near the river Tagus. Wonderful food was selected from a menu of Portuguese specialties, the charming owner provided commentary on the dishes and the lively interactions of the young Portuguese professionals sitting at a table nearby entertained us. Highly recommended.

The Constitutional Court.
Ines Horta Pinto, Chief of Staff of the President of the Constitutional Court, presented on the composition and duties of the Constitutional Court. The Court is located in yet another beautiful palace, the Ratton Palace. We have no equivalent of this court. The “competence” of this court, what we would call its jurisdiction, is limited to 1- deciding if challenged enacted legislation conforms to the constitution and 2- finding on issues of constitutionality of proposed laws (called “prior review” and done at the request of the President only). Last year the court heard 5 prior requests, 23 abstract cases (no specific facts) and 1661 concrete cases (actual facts). The court acts in plenary for abstract and prior review cases, and in chambers for concrete cases. The hearings are not public. 13 judges comprise the court, comprised of 10 who are elected by Parliament who then elect the remaining 3 judges.

The Court also takes the financial disclosures of political candidates and certifies political parties who seek to organize. Portugal has large numbers of political parties, including a communist party which apparently has not elected members to Parliament in many years but is active as an “opposition” party.

Ministry of Health – the National Health Care System
The Minister of Health, Francisco George, was unable to attend our meeting. We met with Philippa Pereira who is in the international relations department of the Ministry and Ana Pedroso, legal advisor to the Minister. Portugal has had a national health system since 1976. On Thursday, the new EU mandated tobacco law was passed with some additional restrictions added by the Portuguese Parliament (such as forbidding smoking in enclosed spaces.) Incidentally, Parliament also raised the legal drinking age to 18 on that day but this was not a public health initiative.

The Constitution guarantees everyone the right to protection of health, and the National Health Service is committed to the equality of citizens in accessing health care. The representatives from the Ministry mentioned several times how proud they are of their system which is available to all legal residents, all EU member citizens and non EU member citizens by national agreements.

There is freedom of choice in selecting providers among the national system providers. There is also the option to use private health care services. The staffers report the quality of the national system providers is very good, and this was affirmed by Ana Christina Delgado, our Portuguese Bar liaison. Many patients avail themselves of the private system only if the public health wait time is too long. It is usual for the same providers to work in both the public and private sectors. Many employers offer their employees private insurance as a supplement, as does the Portuguese Bar Ordem (Association). The Ministry of Health establishes the maximum prices for prescription drugs and pharmacies may charge up to but no more than that amount. The fees charged for doctor visits and emergency room visits are quite modest. If someone is not enrolled in the system, they are charged the full price, although there are liberal provisions for waiver of payment for all children under age 18, pregnant women, those with 60% or more disability and the military, and the unemployed. Always free are family planning and mental health services. Children have free dental care in the public schools.

Only 2 vaccinations are required by the state (tetanus and smallpox) but schools will often require more. The state has a network of health centers which serve as the gatekeeper for the health system. The hospitals are privately owned, and contract with the state. The long-term care facilities were originally owned primarily by the Catholic Church, were nationalized, and are now being restored to the original owners. The state then operates the LTC facility in the church’s facility. As part of austerity measures, the LTC facilities have been charged with moving some of their patients back to their home (or to those of their family) and providing in home care support.

Estate Planning, Paulo da Silva Almeida, Attorney
We met Mr. Almeida at the Bar Ordem since he is in the process of moving his offices, merging his firm with two others. He presented a very detailed discussion of the Family Protocol technique, a method of managing the business interests of wealthy families and their succession planning. 73% of Portugal’s companies are family owned. Only about 14% make it to the second generation, and 8-9% continue to the 3rd generation. There are only 20-30 families in Portugal who have substantial wealth in family businesses. Mr. Almeida emphasized that the lenders (banks) directly or indirectly control many business decisions in Portugal and are an essential member of the estate planning team for these families. He wrapped up with a discussion of the new “Inventory Law”, roughly comparable to our Probate procedures. In his opinion, this law is not working. The probate process is no longer in the Court, but rather with the Notarios who are ill equipped to deal with the family dynamics of dividing estates.

The delegation wrapped up the work week with dinner near the Tagus River and I feel confident in saying that we were all exhausted but grateful for the experiences and knowledge that we gained during this incredible week in Lisbon.

April 25: Oporto
Don Nielsen
Today is the 41st anniversary of the 1974 Carnation Revolution, a national holiday commemorating the beginning of modern Portuguese democracy. We marked the day by visiting renowned historical and cultural sites as we made our way from Lisbon to Portugal's second largest city, Oporto (or Porto).

We passed Torres Vedras, where Wellington's troops repelled Napoleon's armies during the Peninsular War, and arrived at the charming small town of Obidos, a wedding present from King Dinis to Isabel of Aragon in 1282. Obidos has white-washed houses, 14th century walls, and a remarkable castle rebuilt by Afonso Henriques after he claimed the town from the Moors in 1148. Obidos happened to be hosting its 13th International Chocolate Festival and we were delighted to sample all sorts of chocolate treats.

Our next stop was Batalha, a beautiful Dominican abbey and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was begun in 1386 to celebrate Portugal's victory over Castile at the Battle of Aljubarrota. The Gothic abbey, a symbol of Portuguese sovereignty, holds the tombs of Portuguese royalty as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We were fortunate to see the changing of the guard.

From Batalha we headed for Coimbra, where we experienced the first heavy rain of the trip. We toured the University of Coimbra, the oldest Portuguese university and another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The remarkable Johannine Library is recognized as the "most sumptuous university library ever made and a masterpiece of European Baroque."

The University boasts many impressive facilities, including the law school, the Royal Chapel dedicated to Saint Michael, the Room of Grand Acts, where most important ceremonies of academic life took place and, most intriguing, the Academic Prison, where unruly and heretical members of the university community had time to dwell on the errors of their ways. Unfortunately, perhaps, the Academic Prison is no longer in use.

We arrived in Oporto on a rainy evening, in time to check in and enjoy a late dinner at our hotel in downtown Oporto. The historic center of Oporto is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site which we look forward to exploring on Sunday.

April 26: Porto
R. Lynn Coleman
Sofia Santos, our guide today, was full of information and a great sense of humor. In honor of our second day of bad weather, our scheduled walking tour was converted to a bus tour with walking spurts between showers and occasionally during showers. Sofia explained that the city developed among the hills and resembles a waterfall going into the Douro River.

Another early start got us to the Clerigos Tower and Sao Francisco Church before the crowds, which helped with the tower’s 292 (Al counted!) winding stone spiral stairs in the tower, too narrow for even one individual to pass in comfort. The tower has become a symbol of the City and in former times was a marker to travelers from the sea. The church included another “Spanish organ” featuring horizontal pipes to avoid dust issues.  Another of Sofia’s witticisms was that “carving is like a virus” in that it starts on a column and it goes up and over and around and spreads everywhere.

Porto is full of beauty exemplified by both baroque and Roman designed architecture. No Chinese influence has invaded the Porto buildings, unlike Lisbon. While riding around the city, Sofia pointed out the primary building material in Porto is granite and is said to become “sad” when rain invades the city. Porto sidewalks are composed of small pieces of stone. Interesting trees in several parks were actually maple trees, which had been damaged when young by bacteria, and resulted in malformed trunks.

Our tour passed the “bird market” and an outdoor “market” for exchanging sports cards both composed of only men and only open on Sunday. Sofia advised that the beautiful tiles on the outside of the churches and other buildings help reduce the humidity and retain the heat from the winter sun.

The 7 bridges river tour was relaxing and amazingly beautiful. A bit of rain and the lure of hot coffee drove the group inside the shelter on the boat but did not dim our enthusiasm for the views.

We said goodbye to Sofia and had lunch at the Adega e Presunfaria Transmontana II consisting of delicious tapas (small plates) of garlic shrimp and various other local specialties.

The afternoon included tours at two port cellars – Offley Cellars and Ferreira Cellars. We learned about different types of port, where the grapes were grown, the different aging schemes for the white, rose and tawny varieties. The Teleferico de Gaia, a cable car suspended along the bank of the Douro River across the river from Porto provided an inspiring view of the river and both cities.

An unplanned spark of excitement was added for part of our group on our trip back to the hotel Intercontinental when an explosion resulted in smoke and general confusion. We have yet to discover the source of the explosion. No obvious injuries were sustained.

April 27: Bar Business
Jeremy Keever
After spending a couple days sightseeing in Porto, we got down to business this morning with our first stop at the District Council of Porto. This is the local bar association for the Porto region. We met with President Elisabete Grangeia and Vice President Isabel Velloso Ferreira. We were also joined by Human Rights Commission member Dr. Eldad Neto. We discussed how our legal systems were different, but also similar in many ways. One topic of conversation that continually arises is how the lawyers, judges, and prosecutors are separate in their systems of regulation, discipline, and even segregate themselves in different social circles. Members of the Porto District Council were also very curious to learn how our legal system remains separate and independent from the executive and legislative branches (for the most part).

A hot legal topic currently being debated in Portugal is the increasing use of mediation and arbitration in their legal system – especially in the area of tax law. Portugal has a special tax court. However, the process is cumbersome and takes a very long time from the moment a case is filed until it is resolved. The process can take anywhere from six to eight years. As a result, arbitration is a preferred method of resolving these kinds of cases. If arbitration is chosen, the state is allowed to pick one of the arbitrators, the plaintiff or defendant chooses the second arbitrator, and the two chosen arbitrators agree on the third arbitrator. Arbitration can resolve a tax case in just six months from beginning to end. Although arbitration can be expensive, it is much more efficient, and the results can be appealed.

One of the similarities between our two systems is the availability of legal specialties, or certifications. However, unlike in North Carolina where you take an exam to become a board certified specialist, in Portugal, you must be published on a certain topic and then pass an oral examination in front of a jury of your peers from the bar association.

The creation of law firms is a relatively recent phenomenon in Portugal only going back to the past 30-40 years. Due to fiscal issues and Portugal’s hard-hit economy, there has been a lot of recent friction between the Ministry of Justice and the bar association. Cutbacks have caused the Ministry of Justice to close courthouses. These closures mean that the interior of Portugal has less access to the judicial system than the larger cities. Despite the fact that the Portuguese constitution requires that there be equal access to the judiciary, the argument that closures of many courts is unconstitutional has not yet been used in any case headed to the Constitutional Court.

Next, Dr. Neto led us over to the local family/juvenile courthouse. He explained to us that judges can render decisions in this area or the parties involved can make an agreement that the court will enforce. If the parties are able to agree on all aspects of the divorce, the agreement is filed in the Civil Registration and a Conservator approves the divorce. In order for the agreement to be approved, there can be no pending issues between the parties. All components (i.e., alimony, child support, etc.) must be agreed upon before the court can legally grant the divorce. If an agreement cannot be reached, then a trial is held and the judge renders a decision. All trials are recorded in case of an appeal. Previously, Portugal used three judges for every case. However, there is now only one judge per case. Prosecutors preside over every case, both civil and criminal. These prosecutors typically represent minors in a guardian capacity. Since the fall of Portugal’s dictatorship in 1974, the Concordata (agreement) that it had with the Vatican restricting divorces was abrogated and divorces have since been on the rise.

We then met with some family court judges, who explained that theirs is a very busy court system. They described how difficult it can be to deal with the psychology, family dysfunctions, and emotional/economic problems of the parties who come before them. They also do not have the fiscal support to carry out the duties required for successful resolutions. Each judge averages about 30 cases a week and 7 to 8 cases per day. The average family law case takes 6 months to process from beginning to end. Family court also includes juvenile crimes, sometimes involving individuals up to 21 years of age. Only one judge is assigned per individual, even though some individuals can stay in the system for years as repeat offenders. This allows judges to gain familiarity with the juvenile and to remain familiar over time if subsequent offenses are committed by the same minor. The judges explained that Portugal no longer has a required separation period before divorces can be granted. There are also no child support guidelines.

Furthermore, child support is nearly impossible to enforce these days due to extremely high unemployment of Portuguese citizens. In fact, a special institution donates money in lieu of parents who cannot pay child support.

The judges offered to show us their official robes. They are black with detailed ruffles and tassels. They wear them in the courtroom, but not when meeting with children so as not to intimidate them. They hold court only in the afternoons and use the mornings to work in chambers. All juvenile proceedings are sealed and the judge has discretion to close hearings.

After lunch, we traveled to the Tribunal da Relação, which is Portugal’s version of our Court of Appeals. The building is located in a beautiful marble building with severe, Fascist-era style statues and sculptures. To give you some idea of the imposing atmosphere of the building, the statue of Lady Justice outside is grasping both pans of a set of scales in the same hand – indicating that the state controls justice. This is a relic of the previous Fascist state that held power in Portugal from the 1930s until the 1970s.

There are five courts of appeal in Portugal, the one in Porto being the oldest of the branches. There are eight judges and one chief judge for a total of nine judges. They issue judgments in panels of three judges. Even though the Court of Appeals is a court of second instance, meaning that they are the second court to hear a case, it is the court of first instance for judges who commit crimes. The building contains many beautiful works of art, including paintings depicting Portugal’s long history going back to the 1100s. The main courtroom is decorated in red carpeting, red chairs, has a cathedral ceiling, eight columns are behind the bench, and legal relating etchings decorate the windows behind the bench. Furthermore, the building also houses an Employment/Labor Court, as well as a Judicial Museum. The museum contains a slew of ancient books/codexes, judges’ robes, multiple mechanisms resembling lottery balls and hoppers used at one time for assigning judges to cases, inkwells, copies of old written opinions, typewriters, fingerprinting kits, registries of criminals who were banished to Portuguese colonies, and registries containing the names of executed criminals. Before we finished, we were joined by the President (Chief Judge) of the Court of Appeals, who took us to his beautiful office overlooking the city of Porto and the Douro River.

We concluded our official activities for the day by walking down the hall to the Employment/Labor Court. We were introduced to Dr. Annabella, who is the Chief Judge of the Labor Court. She informed us that wrongful discharge cases are the most common type of cases appearing in her court. In the Portuguese legal system, all firings of employees must be justified. In other words, they do not have a “right to work” system as in North Carolina and most of the United States. Dr. Annabella said that she averages about six trials a week and twelve preliminary hearings a week. Other types of cases that come to her are workers’ compensation cases and labor union issues. Porto has more labor union cases because the city is the headquarters of most unions in the country. We were fortunate enough to be able to sit in on a hearing in labor court with Dr. Annabella. She interviewed an ex-employee and made findings of fact in a wrongful discharge case.

After a long day of work, we enjoyed some rare free time in which to explore the city and rounded out the evening with a wonderful dinner at Dop, a local restaurant. Our trip is drawing to a close as we only have one more full day in Portugal.

April 28: Port and Douro Wine Institute
Claire L. Collins
Today was our last day in Portugal and it was only fitting that we finished our trip at the Port and Douro Wine Institute (IDVP). It was an honor to visit the IDVP today to get a glimpse of the detail and dedication that goes into producing one of Portugal’s most prized possessions. The IDVP is one of three state agencies in Portugal that regulate the production and exportation of Portuguese wine. The IDVP specifically monitors and regulates wine and Port from the Douro region of northern Portugal to ensure only the best quality wines are being produced and sold at market. 

We began our meeting today with the IDVP’s legal counsel, Alberto Ribeiro de Almeida, who explained the history and purpose of the IDVP. The IDVP dates back to 1756 and was established to promote the control of the quality and quantity of Port wines. The IDVP regulates the production process as well as the defense and protection of the Douro and Port wines. The mission of the IDVP focuses on the protection, promotion, market regulation, certification and control of wine produced in the Douro region. The IDVP is made up of 136 employees among the various departments within the agency, which range from the chemists, who conduct the physical and chemical analysis of the wines, to the in house legal department, who works to protect and maintain the Douro region wine brand.

The Douro region is also known for being the first to implement a demarcation system in order to designate which plots or parcels of land contain the best quality wine. The classification of plots are based on several factors and are ranked on a scale from A-F, with A being the best. This type of demarcation system is one of the many ways the IDVP can control the quality of wine produced in this region.

Mr. Ribeiro de Almeida went on to explain the process of how a wine producer in the Douro region can produce and distribute their product. All producers and traders of the Port and Douro wines must be registered with the IDVP. The registration process begins once a potential producer purchases a parcel of land. The a representative of the IDVP must actually visit the parcel of land any time the land changes owners in order to inspect and categorize the grape vines of each parcel. Once the vines are ready to be harvested, the producer must make a declaration of harvest to the IDVP and declare what type of wine is being produced from the harvest. The Port wine is registered according to its category, Vintage, Late Bottled Vintage, or a Harvest Port.

The producer must then send a sample of the wine to the IDVP for coding and analysis before the wine can be bottled and labeled. Once the IDVP receives the samples, they then go to a tasting panel, which is made up of 7 tasters who evaluate a maximum of 20 samples per day, where the wine is evaluated for clarity, color, aroma, flavor, fault and age. The panel must give a stamp of approval before the wine can be sent to market. Once approved by the IDVP, the producer can begin bottling and labeling the wine, which includes a guarantee seal from the IDVP. Finally, the producer must then present sufficient documentation to the customs authority before the wine is finally ready to go to market.

After learning about the detailed wine production process in the Douro region, Mr. Ribeiro de Almeida went on to explain some of the legal issues wine producers and the IDVP face from year to year, specifically concerning the protection of trademarks and geographical indications. Geographical indications are contained on all wine labels and identify the origin of each bottle. Throughout Portugal, as well as the European Union, geographical indications are considered a type of industrial property right, similar to a trademark or patent, and therefore are afforded a great deal of protection. Portugal and the European Union have implemented various means of protection which include unfair competition rules, registration mechanisms, administrative schemes and a trademark system. Some member states have even gone as far to implement criminal measures for companies or producers that try to use knock off or generic trademarks and geographical indications.

We received a very warm welcome from the IDVP and Mr. Ribeiro de Almeida’s presentation gave us a wonderful insight into the wine production process of the Douro region, but we couldn’t leave the IDVP without a proper wine tasting. We had the pleasure of sampling three varieties of Port wine from the Douro region, a White Port, Ruby Port and a Tawny Port. We concluded our tour with a visit to the IDVP’s in house Port Wine store so we could bring this wonderful taste of Portugal back home with us.

Portuguese wine is a true treasure that has been a part of Portugal’s culture and economy for hundreds of years and will certainly continue to be one of the country’s biggest assets for years to come. We were very grateful for the opportunity to have an inside look on the rich history and development of Portuguese wine and we walk away with great appreciation for the hard work and dedication involved in creating this spectacular wine. 

April 29: Return Trip
Richard Gabriel
We gather in the hotel lobby at 5:00 a.m. for a special breakfast served in the bar, as the restaurant is not open at this lovely hour. We must be on the road at 5:30 a.m. to make our flight from Porto to Lisbon, then Lisbon to Philadelphia, and finally to the various destinations of the delegates. Most of us will travel for the better part of eighteen hours on this the final day of our Exchange Program to Portugal.

A long trip offers time to reflect upon our visit. The purpose of the Exchange is: to gain a better understanding of the laws, legal systems, people and culture of other countries; to share and exchange legal knowledge and experience; and to foster goodwill among attorneys of the world. Spending twelve days in close contact with your colleagues also fosters new friendships, renews old ones, develops professional relationships, and promotes a better understanding of how we seek to represent the varied interests of our clients in our home state.

There is similarity in the goals and aspirations of attorneys in Portugal and in North Carolina, although we chose different paths to accomplish our goals. Listening to the presentations of practicing attorneys, bar leaders, legal scholars, and members of their several courts, I heard the same aspirations from each and all:  maintain respect for the rule of law, promote the highest standards of social principals, individual rights, and “state rights.” There was a clear and well promoted commitment to the administration of justice, public service and the highest ethical principles and standards of practice.

Although their courts and their bar are organized differently from ours, their goals are remarkably similar. We see ourselves as a nation of laws, and not of men; we seek to provide access to justice to all regardless of financial ability and social status. Our Portuguese colleagues spoke of equal access and equal justice under the law, and I was impressed with their commitment to the concept of pro bono service. Their professionalism clearly mirrors ours, their dedication to their ideals the same as ours, and their efforts as tireless and as endless as any I have seen. The friendly reception and warm embrace we received from our new friends, their boundless hospitality and enthusiasm in meeting and learning from us, reminds one of the importance of professionalism in practice of law and the representation of our clients.

So we return to our homes, tired yet refreshed, knowing that attorneys in other parts of the world are much the same as we, that their social customs and different laws are but alternate paths to the same goals. The purpose of the Exchange was well served.