‘Macau SAR is at a decisive moment in terms of its future’
Pedro Cortés of Rato Ling Lei & Cortés – Advogados e Notários describes Macau SAR’s legal market and explains why it is important to open up the borders
As a recognised lawyer, what do you consider to be the greatest achievements of your career?
The greatest achievement of my career is the last deal, court case or negotiation that is successfully completed and when we see clients or new clients requesting new work.
There have been two landmarks in my career, without putting aside any other matter in which I was involved: the successful sub-concession for games of fortune and chance and the initial public offering (IPO) of one of the current gaming concessionaires. I learnt a lot with these two matters, and I try as much as possible to share the experience with our trainees and junior associates.
Watershed moments: well, I am not like Napoleon about Waterloo, but I try to learn from both the good and bad moments, but with a selective memory that makes me forget about the bad!
What advice would you give to lawyers in junior positions to encourage them to work towards success?
We need to be passionate about our profession and, in our mission, we need to try to achieve the excellency of the services, with knowledge, quality, innovation and speediness.
From the beginning, I have learnt that there are three important rules to being a good lawyer: revise, revise, and revise. To that I add: integrity and suitability and, why not, a deep knowledge of the law.
I always try to share with them that each client, court case, transaction, deal is the most important one and the last one is the less important one. In addition, I wish I knew more about coding and other areas of knowledge. A lawyer should know the laws, of course, but it is more important to know the client and its industry.
What does your firm do to nurture and promote talent? Do you think it compares well to others in your market in this area?
We have a standard system of recruiting, nurturing, and promoting talent.
Four of our partners - and I am one of them - were trainees in this office. We have four offices in three different jurisdictions, and we try to recruit the best with a vision and strategy for the future.
When I started here, we were a handful of lawyers. We have grown alot but we need to be sustainable and to help each other in our personal and professional careers.
If you could introduce one policy across the entire legal profession what would it be?
Are there any initiatives in the firm to help your clients deal with the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic?
Macau SAR has been shut down for foreigners since March 2020 so we try to communicate the best we can with clients and to help them to overturn the difficulties of each situation. It has not been an easy task, but we try to be as close to the clients as possible.
Internally, we have upgraded the IT system and since last year most of our meetings are online, which enables us to provide clients with continuous and efficient services.
What trends from 2021 do you see sticking around into 2022 and beyond in your field of expertise?
Specialisation and knowing the industry of the clients is very important. Now that we talk and see our clients remotely more than ever before, we need to understand that the relationship and trust must continue.
Given the current conditions in your country what would you consider to be the market outlook over the coming year?
Opening of the borders to foreigners is probably what we need more. The end of the quarantines for residents at arrival will be key for the continuation of the recovery.
Macau SAR is at a decisive moment in terms of its future. It will be very important to understand what the new concessions process will bring to the economy of Macau SAR. The gaming industry represents 50% of the GDP. Despite the political will to diversify the economy, gaming is still the fuel and engine.
We expect more investment from mainland China, more financial entities being licensed and a couple of M&As in different areas.
What kind of work do you expect will keep you busy over the next 12 months?
Regulatory and M&A. If the economy continues to be suspended, there might be litigation cases coming in.
Are there any upcoming regulatory changes or initiatives that investors should be aware of?
The recently announced China master plan to forge closer mainland Chinese links to Macau SAR (and also Hong Kong) is a step further for Macau SAR.
We expect the new laws and regulations to be prepared in line with the ‘Master Plan of the Development of the Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone in Hengqin’.
Economic diversification within the Greater Bay Area will surely lead the regulatory changes and initiatives.
What do you feel is the biggest misconception others have about your market?
People tend to see Macau SAR as an unregulated market where all can be done, forgetting that, for instance, that Macau SAR has been a member of the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering since May 2001.
Macau SAR has a legal framework designed to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism which, in accordance with 2019 Mutual Evaluation Report, considers Macau SAR as meeting the 40 Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations to largely compliant ratings and the first member to pass all 40 FATF recommendations on technical compliance assessment among all globally evaluated members.
What is the one thing you think the IFLR’s international audience should know about how to successfully do business in your market?
It is very important to not try and transpose rules and practices that are made in the countries of origin. Understand that this 32 sq km special administrative region has a history and a legal structure, based on Civil Law, that will surely help those who want to do business in this market.
Rato Ling Lei & Cortés - Advogados e Notários
T: +853 8797 5607
Pedro Cortés is a managing partner at Rato Ling Lei & Cortés - Advogados e Notários. He joined the firm in 2003 and became a partner in 2006.
Pedro’s expertise is in banking and finance, capital markets, gaming, corporate and M&A, and arbitration.
Pedro has a master’s degree in gaming law and regulation from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is a member of the Macau Lawyers Association, Portuguese Bar Association, International Bar Association, among others. He is a guest lecturer at the Lisbon School of Law, Catholic University of Portugal.