Solicitors governing body: Associação dos Advogados de Macau
Financial regulator: 澳門金融管理局 - Autoridade Monetaria e Cambial de Macau
IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:
Financial and corporate (published October) – Financial and corporate
Macau’s legal system is based on Portuguese law and belongs to the civil law tradition that originated in continental Europe. Since the special administrative region’s economy is heavily reliant on gaming and tourism, the legal market unsurprisingly caters heavily to these industries.
The market is small and made up of firms who have traditionally benefitted from a gentleman’s agreement of sorts in the dispersal of mandates. The connection with Portugal helps in tapping and channeling China’s outbound appetite to the lusophone world; however, there is no doubt that traditional stability has been shaken as the market grapples with the changing macro conditions.
The supply of lawyers in Macau is a contemporary concern. The first law graduates only emerged from the University of Macau in the mid-1990s. Up until then the Macanese legal profession was the preserve of those trained in Portugal, very few of whom were Chinese. The Portuguese still dominate the profession as only about a quarter of the 200 or so practitioners are local and tend to be in junior roles.
Despite the above, there are other factors in the market's move closer to Mainland China. Graduates who focused on Mainland law to the detriment of Macau law feel let down by the Macau Bar in contrast to graduates in Macau law and ones brought in directly from Lisbon. At the same time, ever increasing restrictions on the introduction of lawyers directly from Portugal has caused younger Portuguese lawyers already in Macau to spin out and form their own outfits. This facilitates competition, and in a market that is already small, we may be seeing some early symptoms of cabin fever.
Adam Majeed - Journalist - EMEA
DSL Lawyers is traditionally known for its strength in banking and finance, but this year it has been active in the equity capital markets having advised on the first IPO involving a Macau subsidiary within the audio, visual and lighting solutions industry.
Banking, financial services, construction, and media and entertainment have all been active sectors for the firm of late.
Key clients of the firm include Chinese and global banks, and Hong Kong based construction contractors.
"Good local firm with broad experience." - M&A, Banking and finance
"Quick reaction, responsible and professional. Macau is not a big legal market and it is not easy to justify the general quality of the law firm. However, we think we are lucky to find DSL Lawyers to provide local legal support in our transactions." - M&A
"Responsive, knowledgeable of the local market and commercial." - M&A
Jorge Neto Valente Advogados is among the largest firms in Macau with strength in M&A and banking and finance. The firm is a member of the Miranda alliance, an international association of law firms across 18 jurisdictions and four continents.
The firm has been most active in the gaming, insurance, banking, and real estate industries. It acted in the listing of Asia Pioneer Entertainment Holdings; for the lenders in a financing transaction for the development of an integrated resort in Macau; and for the Thaihot Group on the acquisition of the Macau and Hong Kong life insurance businesses of Dah Sing Financial Holdings.
Key clients of the firm include Banco Nacional Ultramarino, Sands China, Macau Legend Development, Nam Van group, and Galaxy Entertainment Group.
"Good industry knowledge." – Banking and finance
"Provide prompt legal responses, clear and fundamental. Always available to give advice." Financial services regulatory
"Pedro Branco of JNV Legal is a leading practitioner, experienced and knowledgeable. He is extremely responsive and helpful." – Restructuring and insolvency
Manuela António - Lawyers and Notaries is strong in finance, project development, and debt capital markets.
In the research period, the firm acted for Melco Resorts Finance on a senior notes issue, and acted for the Bank of China on a structured notes issue.
The firm is traditionally strong in the gaming and financial services sector, but has been active in the past 12 months in the technology, manufacturing, real estate and energy industries.
Key clients of the firm include the Bank of China, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Citibank, Melco Resorts Finance, UBS, and Tai Fung Bank.
"Strengths: good communication skills, transparent price, helpful assistance, professional and timely completion of work." – Banking and finance
"Very knowledgeable in their areas of expertise and immediately available to provide the required legal assistance." - Restructuring and insolvency
Still young in the context of Macau’s legal market, MdME is fast growing with strength in M&A and capital markets. MdMe is an associated office of MLGTS, which gives it Lusophone reach, and is also a member of Lex Mundi.
The firm has experience in sectors such as gaming, banking, insurance, real estate, energy, TMT, pharmaceuticals, retail, and construction.
In the research period the firm brought in Carlos Eduardo Coelho from Riquito Advogados, but lost M&A lawyer Liliana Faria.
The firm has an impressive roster of clients that include HSBC, ICBC, China Construction Bank, China Engineering Construction Company, CPD Fund, Citibank, Exxon Mobil, and Hang Seng.
Rato Ling Lei & Cortés is known for its work in M&A and capital markets, especially in HKSE listings where it has developed a strong reputation. The firm works with association in Portuguese law firm AM Associados, and has partnerships with Zhong Yin Law Firm in China and Fongs in Hong Kong.
In the research period it has acted in the GEM listings of Mi Ming Mart Holdings and Sheung Moon Holdings, while advising on the sale of Shell's LPG business in Hong Kong and Macau to DCC Energy.
Of late the firm has been particularly active in sectors such as energy, media, real estate, banking and retail.
The firm brought in Portuguese desk head Óscar Alberto Madureira from Melco Resorts & Entertainment, but lost partner Filipa Almeida Santos, also to Melco Resorts & Entertainment.
Key clients of the firm include KNJ Global, Authentic Empathy, Banco BIC Macau, Alibaba Group, Bank of Communications, and Brunello Cucinelli.
In September 2017 the firm opened an office in Lisbon to focus on foreign Chinese investment in Portugal.
"Professional, competent and always available." – Banking and finance
Riquito Advogados is fixture in Macau’s legal market. It is known for restructuring and corporate law expertise. It often works with Herbert Smith Freehills and has an association with Portuguese law firm AAA Advogados.
The firm has kept busy working on a host of mandates in the real estate and gaming industries. It highlights included acting for an international gaming supplier in the negotiation of an agreement for the supply of gaming equipment to a Macau gaming concessionaire; advising a Hong Kong listed holding company with a strong real estate presence in Macau; and acting for an aviation company in matters related to the licensing and construction of a new helicopter maintenance hangar.
In the research period the firm was hit by the departure of Carlos Eduardo Coelho to MdMe.