Insolvency law in Portugal – a multidisciplinary analysis

In Portugal, mechanisms aimed at debtors in a difficult economic situation or in imminent insolvency (namely, the special proceedings for revitalization and the special proceedings for a payment agreement) have a marginal use when compared to insolvency proceedings and since 2016 there has been a sharp and steady decline in the number of special proceedings for revitalization issued. Furthermore, the average length of insolvency proceedings largely exceeds 2 years.

Given these elements, our research aims to address the following questions: (a) does the length of insolvency proceedings exceed what would be expected according to the law? (b) if so, what are the underlying causes? (c) how to explain the low use of pre-insolvency mechanisms? (d) what are the reasons for the steady decline in the number of special proceedings for revitalization issued in the last few years?

The project combines multiple perspectives as it includes legal, economic and sociological methods of analysis. This cross-cutting approach is intended to provide an overview of the causes that affect the length of insolvency proceedings and the use of pre-insolvency mechanisms. Such an analysis will be a major contribution to the prescriptive dimension of the project: the development of proposals aimed at promoting the use of pre-insolvency mechanisms (thus contributing to the recovery of viable debtors) and at reducing the length of insolvency proceedings, thereby mitigating its serious detrimental effects.


Research team

Mariana França Gouveia (Principal Investigator – PI)

João Pedro Ramos de Almeida Pinto-Ferreira (Co-PI)

Guilherme Brandão Salazar Loureiro Gomes

Higina Maria Almeida Orvalho da Silva Castelo

Inês Setil

Patrícia Andrea Rodrigues André

Susana Alexandra Lopes da Costa Santos

Teresa Cristina Nunes Violante Ferreira Nascimento

Lua Mota Santos (Research Fellow)



Pedro Magalhães (Survey)

Luís de Sousa (Survey)

Irem Demirci (Economic Analysis)



36 months (February 2021 to January 2024)



The project was awarded a € 196 963,13 funding by the Foundation for Science and Technology in the 2020 Call for SR&TD Projects in all Scientific Domains.


Advisory board members

– Catarina Serra, Judge at the Portuguese Supreme Court of Justice;

– Fernando Taínhas, Judge at the Commercial Court of Lisbon;

– Jorge Calvete, Trustee; 

– José Lebre de Freitas, Lawyer and Professor at Nova School of Law;

– Nuno Gundar da Cruz, Lawyer.