Início Atualidade Changing Times

Changing Times

Changing Times

Sara Macias, Lawyer and Partner Macias Y Associados

In March 2020 nobody was thinking about being forced to make a break in our everyday life. The word that best describes 2020 is resiliency, and we can say that the one for 2021 is change! Change to be different, to be simpler, to be more efficient, to make our will establish what makes us be more efficient.

First we stopped (we can say we were frightened by the unexpected fact that went against our believes), then we started thinking how we would react to all the problems, the concerns and obstacles we were facing and finally we adapted i.e., we changed our valences to our wills which tested us when facing real challenges, whether in our private as in our professional life.

Law and advocacy have also been changing. In Portugal, after approximately 16 months, when the epidemic/ pandemic has been announced, and when we were questioned about the great changes in activity areas, we are forced to highlight that our expertise consolidated in life experience and in the ability to change towards this new reality, didn’t modify our core business. The methods, the approach and the definition of strategies provided added value to place ourselves in the market.

So, there are some areas we cannot ignore as they are our major reference areas i.e., we are referred by our clients ( who are a great way of spreading the word about our services) in the following areas: Family support during divorce proceedings, internationalization of new businesses in Portugal,  assistance to new citizens who have chosen Portugal to start a new life, either by new approaches to obtaining legal residency, or Golden Visas, non-habitual resident or relocation process of a family/ family business, looking for the best way to enjoy Portugal at its best.

As a matter of fact, there has been a great impact in our area of Family Law as our knowledge about preventive law methods and the approach of family mediation and conciliation helped lots of families changing their minds about the break-up of a marriage as being a painful process. If the lock-down period made some family issues worse and led to the break-up of the marriage, the fact is that everyone, I mean everyone who came to us, was able to understand that one should be willing to adapt oneself to the new changing times. Together we were able to reach agreements for the new reality without resorting judicial disputes. It is curious that, being barred or limited to judicial review, made us think about the valences in mediation and in concertation of new ways concerning conflict resolution as it is, for sure, one of the biggest challenges in this area of law. All the cases related to divorce ended up as amicable agreement between both sides creating solutions that could minimize the side effects of the break-up and made it possible to face new wills and new realities.

What concerns the Internationalization of Companies that have chosen Portugal to expand their business according to their plans, this was our starting point for the change of attitude towards the lock-down imposed by the pandemic. All the market analysis studies, the creation of solid company models, the dissection of all tax law issues and its optimization towards all models of governance elected for the new reality were thoroughly discussed during intensive online meetings (with the help of digital platforms that are now part of our lives) reflecting all the precious time we have been able to share with our new clients, avoiding previous countless preparation journeys that were formerly considered irreplaceable.

This way when they really enter the market throughout the internationalization of companies, the link between the team of lawyers and the company shareholders that are now establishing themselves in Portugal is so strong and enriching that we are real business partners ( knowing the pillars of business, the fragilities we have to be aware of, the future we want to achieve) and we are not only a way to create company models where simply our legal intervention would be used.

Today there is a greatly appreciated premise among our clients:  “At Macias we don’t want the initiation in the activity to be just an expense, we want to be an essential partner during the course of business.”

The legislative measure which announced that Golden Visas couldn’t be used in the Lisbon and Oporto metropolitan areas was also seen as a proactive change of attitude, and the candidates, when purchasing a property, should choose another place outside these boundaries.

Consequently our team working in Relocation Real Estate Law has developed a number of partnerships and conventions with estate agents, investors, promotors, builders, solicitors, other law firms which are located in the areas covered for the new Golden Visa cases which will initiate on the 1st January 2022, in order to be all in synch to welcome the  candidates and prove that Portugal is indeed the best European country when it comes to host foreigners.

The new area that emerged after the epidemic was the move/ relocation or accommodation of businessmen, families, foreign companies to Portugal looking for the excellent conditions we can provide, namely the quality of private health care, the safety provided by the almost non-existent crime rates, the acquisition of excellent supply of housing stock with stunning landscapes, the development of B2B businesses, the offer of a top-class higher education and be the undeniable entry into Europe.

The market has a whole year to adapt itself to the new rules for granting Golden Visas which will only take effect on the 1st January 2022, according to the rules established by the Decree-Law 14/2021 of 12 February which introduces changes in the legal framework concerning the entry, the stay, the exit and the departure of foreigners from national territory. This change will restrict the concession in Residence Permits for Investment, known as Golden Visas, in the Lisbon and Oporto metropolitan areas and in the inter-municipal community territories along the coastline where the rule doesn’t apply when the investment concerns the real estate housing. Nevertheless we must inform our clients that the investment in tourism, business and service real estate were excluded. Therefore Lisbon, Oporto and the coastline are still eligible for applications concerning Golden Visas.

The acquisition of real estate with a value of EUR 500,000 or more, and the acquisition and execution of urban rehabilitation works, with an amount of EUR 350,000 and more intended for housing, are still covered by this scheme but only in the Autonomous Regions of the Azores and Madeira or hinterland regions identified in Ministerial Order 208/2017 of 13 July.

We must also adapt ourselves to the changes in Banking Law and Financial Advising as the increasing amounts involving investment activity need or legal intervention. Therefore, the following amounts must be considered: capital transfers with a value of EUR 1,5 million or more; capital transfers with a value of EUR 500,000 or more which are applied in investigation activities developed by public or private institutions of scientific investigation, built in the national scientific and technological system; capital transfers with a value of EUR 500,000 or more intended to acquire units of investment funds; capital transfers with a value of EUR 500,000 or more intended to incorporate a commercial company having its head office in national territory.

As a conclusion and answering the question about what has changed in our activity after the epidemic, I can only say that it was really the Change of Attitude towards adversity, to be able to follow the winds of change that were fully in our sails and not create any kind of resistance or barriers to new pathways.