Debora Visconte is “an excellent professional in arbitration” whose “very efficient approach” makes her a market favourite.
Debora Visconte has a PhD and a master's degree in international law from the University of São Paulo Law School; an LLM degree in international business transactions from the London School of Economics; and a law degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo.
Debora is the founding partner of Visconte Advogados since May 2018, practising in the fields of civil law, commercial law, litigation and arbitration, with solid experience as arbitrator in domestic and international arbitration.
She is the vice-president of CBAr, board member of the Câmara de Conciliação, Mediação e Arbitragem CIESP/FIESP, vice-president of ICC’s Global Arbitration and ADR Committee; President of the ICC’s Brazil Arbitration and Mediation Committee.
Debora Visconte is a member of the lists of arbitrators from the most prestigious Brazilian arbitration institutions and is the author of several articles about commercial arbitration and international private law.
What inspired you to specialise in arbitration?
I had the opportunity to work, as counsel, in 1998 at the outset of the landmark case of Renault v CAOA in establishing that the arbitration convention was enforceable. At that point the issues of incomplete arbitration clauses or competence had not been discussed before the courts in Brazil. During this case I got accepted for a LL.M in LSE and decided to study and pursue a career in arbitration.
What qualities make for an effective arbitrator?
I believe that what makes me an effective arbitrator is that I dedicate myself with full heart to everything I do. I have a strong academic background but am very open minded as to the facts of the case.
In your opinion, what are the benefits and challenges of virtual hearings? What role do you see them having in the future of arbitration?
The benefits of virtual hearings are the costs and the fact that they are easier to fit in the agenda of the arbitrators, counsels and witnesses. I understand that the virtual and hybrid hearings will continue to be used in the future except for cases where the issues involved and/or witnesses are too sensitive.
What is the most memorable dispute you have been a part of, and why?
The most memorable dispute I was involved in was a dispute that concern a first-tier Brazilian bank and a key company in the real state business. The dispute involved a financial contract, a merger and undefined financial targets. The bank-initiated arbitration against the real state company alleging that they had not fulfilled the target and had to return the investment. The case rested on the interpretation of what
variables composed the formula.
How do you see the role of arbitrators evolving in the next few years?
I believe that the role of the arbitrators will evolve in a sense to best customise the proceedings to the dispute in order to regain effectivity and lower costs. International arbitration has progressed and evolved significantly over time and especially in recent decades. However, it still strives to find appropriate solutions to common problems and harmonise the different approaches to resolving international disputes in search of a common standard.
As founding partner of Visconte Advogados, what are your main priorities for the firm’s development over the next couple of years?
As the founding partner of Visconte Advogados my priority is to expand my international practice. Plus, my firm is small with two practitioners and I, whose family lives outside of São Paulo. We worked in home offices up until now and at this point, we are looking for new and smaller premises so we can also connect in person.
What advice would you give to someone looking to set up their own firm?
I would recommend that beyond dedicating herself/himself to the cases, that they dedicate her/his time to the development of the arbitration market and community. Brazil is an arbitration friendly jurisdiction, but challenges to arbitration practice in the country still exist, and efforts to further improve the system in Brazil are still warranted.