Solicitors governing body: Ordem dos Advogados de Moçambique
Competition authority: Autoridade Reguladora da Concorrência
Financial regulator: Banco de Moçambique
IFLR1000 ranking categories in this jurisdiction:
Mozambique in its current form was only founded in 1975, following its independence from Portugal. A 16 year period of civil war ended in the country in 1992, and its constitution was only formally introduced in 1990, and then amended in 2004. As such its legal framework is in its relative infancy and is still closely tied to the Portuguese system. However economic development, greatly facilitated by the discovery of oil, has made Mozambique one of the most financially rewarding places to do business in Africa of recent years.
The burgeoning economy has had a positive effect on the legal market, but, while an attractive environment for investment, the market remains difficult for foreign firms to practice in. Regulations are in place that restrict foreign lawyers from practicing in Mozambique, and while foreign firms are permitted to form associations with local outfits - who tend to work under the auspices of their parent firms - they are not able to adopt their name or branding.
Linguistic and cultural ties have seen the jurisdiction’s legal market develop with the significant influence of Portuguese firms. The vast majority of firms active in Mozambique’s financial and corporate market work in close coordination with associate firms and networks. Those found at the head of the market work as part of wider networks.
Couto Graça & Associados have an association with Iberian firm Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira and are members of the LEX Africa Group; while SAL & Caldeira are members of the DLA Piper Africa Group; Pimenta & Associados are Miranda’s associate firm; Ferreira Rocha & Associados are tied to Abreu Advogados; and Tomás Timbane & Associados Advogados is linked to PLMJ. Other Portuguese firms with active associations in the jurisdiction are Morais Leitão, Vieira de Almeida & Associados and AVM Advogados.
Cross-border work is generally handled by Portuguese lawyers, while their domestic counterparts use local expertise to handle the day-to-day operations of larger projects. As a result of this, many local lawyers are trained and educated in Lisbon before taking up positions in Maputo.
The legal market in Mozambique is also closely tied with that of neighbours South Africa, and Angola, as well as other PALOP jurisdictions São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea and Cape Verde.
There is currently little in the way of practice area specialisation in the market, but that is liable to change as the environment inevitably becomes more sophisticated.
Mozambique firm Couto Graça e Associados was founded in 2011 in Maputo. The firm has an association with Iberian firm Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira, which has 26 offices in 12 countries, and is part of the Lex Africa network.
Focusses / specialisms
The firm is one of the leading firms for financial and corporate transactions in Mozambique and has expertise in banking and finance, capital markets, and M&A.
It is widely considered to be the leading firm in the market for project development, particularly on large and multi-faceted projects.
It is significantly experienced in the oil and gas, natural resources and infrastructure sector work and is developing expertise in the emerging power sector in Mozambique. Real estate is another area of focus.
Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)
During the research period the firm was active in debt capital markets, equity capital markets, M&A, project development, and project finance.
In the debt capital market space it advised on the issuance of bonds.
In equity capital markets it was active assisting with share capital increases for corporates.
In M&A the firm was active in mergers.
In project development the firm advised developers in the renewable energy and oil and gas sectors. In project finance work it advised lenders.
Client Feedback: 30th Edition (2019/2020)
Financial services regulatory
“The firm has appropriate expertise in corporate matters.”
“Proactive and efficient.”
“In-depth market knowledge and experience in the most relevant energy projects. Control over the transactions in which they are implicated and the quality of the documentation in which they are involved.”
“CGA's involvement on our side allowed the achievement on significant milestones for the execution of contracts with the local authorities and our public/private partners. Its proximity to the client, to the administrations and the private companies, the strong involvement of its partners, and its experience on numerous transactions, make CGA a key partner.”
Restructuring and insolvency
“This company's positive attributes are the professionalism of their lawyers, always being able to help the client, and their knowledge in laws which goes accordingly to their legal opinions.”
“Knowledge, experience, good network in Mozambique, availability and responsiveness.”
“Pedro Couto: total knowledge of the dynamics and trends of the energy sector, always finding solutions to complex situations.”
“Excellent corporate lawyer.”
“Available, competent, understand our business and legally updated.”