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.
ABCC - Avillez Bacar Centeio & Cambule has strength in banking and capital markets work, often working as lenders’ local counsel on financings.
The firm regularly advises on real estate and infrastructure projects and picks up deals in the agriculture sector. One of the firm’s most significant deals during the research period saw it advise the Export Import Bank of China on a loan provided to the Government of Mozambique.
"Strong commitment to clients and very responsive to requests." – Project development, and restructuring and insolvency
"Work is generally of a very high standard, with great turn-around times and an in-depth understanding of the local market." – M&A, project finance and development
"He is an excellent lawyer, very quick to assist and is good at putting you in contact with experts within the firm where matters may fall out of his individual realm of expertise."
"Responsive. Shows local knowledge and wide practice."
Carlos Freitas Vilanculos is a Mozambique firm which operate as the local partner of Portuguese firm MC&A. The firm is active in financial and corporate law and during the research period worked on significant deals in M&A and project finance.
The firm utilises the expertise of MC&A’s international partners on the vast majority of its deals, and has worked this year with a number of Middle East companies, particularly in the oil and gas sector.
Couto Graça & Associados is one of the leading financial and corporate firms in Mozambique with clear expertise in capital markets, M&A, and project development. It is a member of the LEX Africa network.
The firm has experience in the oil and gas sector, and in addition, it is developing an expertise in the emerging power sector in Mozambique, working on a number of deals during the research period. Real estate is another area of focus.
A clear highlight deal during the research period advising a confidential investor in project coral, the new floating liquid natural gas (FLNG) facility in the Rovuma basin.
Staffing changes during the research period saw Bianca Ó da Silva return to the firm from her own practice.
"Very professional and knowledgeable." – Capital markets, competition, M&A, project finance, and restructuring and insolvency
"Best corporate lawyer in the country, although slow to respond at times."
Fernanda Lopes e Associados is a Mozambique firm with expertise in capital markets and M&A work.
Partner Xavier Sicanso has left the firm during the research period.
Guilherme Daniel & Associados work in association with Portuguese firm Vieira de Almeida. Much of its work recently has focussed on helping clients set up in Mozambique. The firm also assisted with large financial restructuring and project development deals.
The firm has done considerable work in the oil and gas sector recently for key clients including Puma Energy and Petrobeira.
Henriques Rocha e Associados is the Mozambique member of the MGTLS legal circle of law firms in lusophone jurisdictions. The firm has developed particular expertise in banking, project finance and project development.
In project finance, the firm advised on a major FLNG development in Mozambique as lenders local counsel, and acted in a similar role regarding several investments by global, particularly Chinese, firms in the power sector in Mozambique.
"Client-focused, commercially oriented. Swift repliers. Very professional." – M&A
"HRA is one of the top firms in the market, involved in the most important work in Mozambique and knowledgeable of international practices and trends." – Project finance
"Overall, we have a very positive assessment. We highlight the technical capacity, global experience, international network, proximity and trust." – Banking and finance, and restructuring and insolvency
Paula Duarte Rocha
"She is a strong practitioner that will fight for the client's interests tirelessly. Main challenge would be response time and adopt a more solution oriented approach."
Fabrícia de Almeida Henriques
"Technical capacity, experience, availability, and pro activity."
SAL & Caldeira are a leading law firm in Mozambique which over the research period showed particular expertise in M&A, and project finance and development. The firm is a member of the DLA Piper Africa network.
The firm is well known for its work on natural resource projects, especially in the oil and gas and mining sectors. Additionally, the firm has this year worked on a number of deals in the power sector, working on the financing of major gas fire and hydroower developments as lenders and borrowers council respectively.
Though the firm’s clients are confidential, they include a large number of multi-national oil and gas and mining companies.
Alongside its transactional work, the firm represents Mozambique’s Confederation of Economic Associations in negotiations over the development of new legislation.
TTA - Tomás Timbane & Associados Advogados is the Mozambique member of Portuguese firm PLMJ’s network.
During the research period, the firm has been particularly active in banking and finance work, including a financial restructuring deal for lender FNB Mozambique, a subsidiary of FirstRand Group.
In project development, the firm is one of the firms working on Total Mozambique’s major real estate development project. The firm advised on a number of confidential deals in the mining sector during the research period.