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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Ricardo Bernardi is a "very knowledgeable and efficient" aviation lawyer who is recognised for his top-tier contentious work in the field.

Questions & Answers

Ricardo Bernardi is founding partner of Bernardi & Schnapp Advogados. For the last 29 years, he has been providing full assistance to top international airlines operating in Brazil, aviation underwriters, aircraft manufacturing companies and airport operators, as well as aircraft financing and leasing companies, assisting foreign lessors and lenders in various forms of transactions involving business jets and helicopters. His practice covers litigation associated with aircraft accidents, passenger claims, cargo claims, commercial litigation, regulatory air law, contracts and competition law issues.

What do you enjoy most about working in aviation law?

I enjoy the challenges of working for an industry in constant evolution and which offers opportunities of interacting with highly qualified professionals in both legal and business areas. After assisting airlines and other companies involved in the aviation sector, I had the chance of learning how to connect various areas of law and aviation, thus developing the skills required to work in this exciting industry. Altogether, this experience has been inspiring in my career as a lawyer.

What did you find most challenging about entering aviation practice?

Certainly, the most challenging part was to understand the many aspects of the airline business and the relevant laws and regulations. Aviation law was not part of law school programs, so in order to work as an aviation lawyer when I started practising, when there was no internet or online search engines, one had to be a self-learner, and dig out materials and information from university libraries and other sources, which was not always an easy task.

What regulatory and legislative changes has the Brazilian aviation sector seen recently, and how are they impacting practice?

Several new regulations and laws have been enacted to protect public health, airlines and passengers in the difficult scenario produced by the covid-19 outbreak. Regulations were issued to restrict entry of foreign citizens, although several of the restrictions initially imposed have been lifted regarding passengers transported by air. The health authorities also established several procedures and recommendations to ensure proper hygiene measures inside aircrafts and at airports. The government proposed a bill of law which has been recently voted and approved by Congress, providing rules which protect airlines from massive cash disbursements resulting from ticket refund requests, among other rules which were meant to act as incentive for air travel. This bill of law also reformed the Brazilian Aeronautic code aiming at reducing the volume of litigation involving airlines in Brazil, which is extremely high compared to other jurisdictions. Furthermore, the Brazilian General Data Protection Law has recently became enforceable. All these legislative constructions have been generating the need for constant legal assistance.

In what ways has the global pandemic impacted the domestic and global aviation industry, and what is needed for it to recover?

The pandemic impacted the aviation industry in an unprecedented manner. Domestic traffic volume in Brazil decreased more than 90 per cent. In South America the reduction was of around 80 per cent. Clearly, recovery will depend on investments in the sector and on when passenger demand will increase to the pre-pandemic levels, which depends on the control of the spread of the virus and discovery of an efficient vaccine. Air transportation is needed and will continue to be increasingly necessary, so recovery is not a matter of if, but a matter of when.

What qualities do you think are essential for an aviation lawyer to succeed? 

I believe the most important quality for an aviation lawyer is to profoundly understand the aviation business and based on this knowledge respond to airlines’ needs as fast and efficiently as possible. There is no time to get familiarised with aviation regulations or typical business contracts when being required to assist an airline. Aviation lawyers must know all the idiosyncrasies of the industry and starting from there, provide legal assistance.

Why did you decide to establish your own firm? 

At the time I graduated, there were very few law firms specialised in aviation law, so I was not motivated to join any of the existing firms at that time. When I started practising, a US-based carrier was launching its operations in Brazil and needed urgent assistance in São Paulo. Coincidentally, that airline was referred to the firm I worked with, so I had the opportunity of developing the area from the scratch and to establish my own firm.

How has your extensive experience as a professor enhanced your work in private practice? 

I believe the most important skill I learned as a professor was how to be didactic and to communicate in an efficient manner. This has been extremely helpful, especially when it comes to explaining the complexities of Brazilian laws and regulations to foreign clients who do not know Portuguese nor the Brazilian legal environment. On the one hand I regret not having had the time to further develop my career as a professor, but on the other hand I reckon it was for a good cause, that is: to dedicate my full attention on my firm and our clients.

As managing partner, what are your main priorities for the firm’s development over the next five years?

Our aviation-sector clients faced a severe and unprecedented crisis in the year of 2020, so our main priorities will be to support them as much as we can. We have been intensively investing in training and technology for the past few years, so we are a step ahead and ready to provide assistance in the new post-covid-19 crisis world. It will require adaptability, extremely cost-effective services and high level of enhanced specialisation.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Ricardo Bernardi is applauded for being a “thorough and professional practitioner” by sources, who describe him as a “pleasure to work with” and a very active aviation lawyer.

Biography

Founding partner of Bernardi & Schnapp Advogados, Ricardo Bernardi has extensive experience in aviation law. For the past 29 years, he has been providing full assistance to top international airlines operating in Brazil, aviation underwriters, aircraft manufacturing companies and airport operators, as well as aircraft financing and leasing companies, assisting foreign lessors and lenders in various forms of transactions.

His practice covers the whole range of air law, including litigation associated with aircraft accidents, passenger claims, cargo claims, commercial litigation, regulatory air law and competition law issues. Owing to his experience, Ricardo was appointed as a member of the commission created by the Brazilian Federal Senate to draft a proposed bill to become the new Aeronautical Code.

Ricardo Bernardi contributed a chapter titled “Regulation of Aviation: Regular Air Transportation” in the book Regulation of the Economy in Brazil, from 2003, and the chapter “Infrastructure in Environmental Law – Airports” for the book Infrastructure in the context of Environmental Law, published in 2016. He also contributed the Brazil chapter to The Aviation Law Review, published by Law Business Research, London, in 2013. He has written articles and delivered lectures on aviation law at several institutions and universities, including the Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC), the São Paulo Association of Attorneys (AASP), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA), the American Bar Association (ABA), and the Brazilian Association of Aerial and Space Law (SBDA). He is also a consultant to the SBDA, Brazil’s oldest institution dedicated to the study of aeronautic law (founded in 1942).

Transport - Aviation Finance 2021

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Ricardo Bernardi is highlighted as a “knowledgeable and experienced” aviation lawyer and “one of the best”.

Biography

Founding partner of Bernardi & Schnapp Advogados, Ricardo Bernardi has extensive experience in aviation law. For the past 29 years, he has been providing full assistance to top international airlines operating in Brazil, aviation underwriters, aircraft manufacturing companies and airport operators, as well as aircraft financing and leasing companies, assisting foreign lessors and lenders in various forms of transactions.

His practice covers the whole range of air law, including litigation associated with aircraft accidents, passenger claims, cargo claims, commercial litigation, regulatory air law and competition law issues. Owing to his experience, Ricardo was appointed as a member of the commission created by the Brazilian Federal Senate to draft a proposed bill to become the new Aeronautical Code.

Ricardo Bernardi contributed a chapter titled “Regulation of Aviation: Regular Air Transportation” in the book Regulation of the Economy in Brazil, from 2003, and the chapter “Infrastructure in Environmental Law – Airports” for the book Infrastructure in the context of Environmental Law, published in 2016. He also contributed the Brazil chapter to The Aviation Law Review, published by Law Business Research, London, in 2013. He has written articles and delivered lectures on aviation law at several institutions and universities, including the Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC), the São Paulo Association of Attorneys (AASP), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA), the American Bar Association (ABA), and the Brazilian Association of Aerial and Space Law (SBDA). He is also a consultant to the SBDA, Brazil’s oldest institution dedicated to the study of aeronautic law (founded in 1942).

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Ricardo Bernardi is internationally renowned for his sweeping knowledge of aviation regulation.

Biography

Founding partner of Bernardi & Schnapp Advogados, Ricardo Bernardi has extensive experience in aviation law. For the past 29 years, he has been providing full assistance to top international airlines operating in Brazil, aviation underwriters, aircraft manufacturing companies and airport operators, as well as aircraft financing and leasing companies, assisting foreign lessors and lenders in various forms of transactions.

His practice covers the whole range of air law, including litigation associated with aircraft accidents, passenger claims, cargo claims, commercial litigation, regulatory air law and competition law issues. Owing to his experience, Ricardo was appointed as a member of the commission created by the Brazilian Federal Senate to draft a proposed bill to become the new Aeronautical Code.

Ricardo Bernardi contributed a chapter titled “Regulation of Aviation: Regular Air Transportation” in the book Regulation of the Economy in Brazil, from 2003, and the chapter “Infrastructure in Environmental Law – Airports” for the book Infrastructure in the context of Environmental Law, published in 2016. He also contributed the Brazil chapter to The Aviation Law Review, published by Law Business Research, London, in 2013. He has written articles and delivered lectures on aviation law at several institutions and universities, including the Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC), the São Paulo Association of Attorneys (AASP), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA), the American Bar Association (ABA), and the Brazilian Association of Aerial and Space Law (SBDA). He is also a consultant to the SBDA, Brazil’s oldest institution dedicated to the study of aeronautic law (founded in 1942).

National Leader

Features by Ricardo Bernardi

Aviation 2018: Discussion

Aviation 2018: Discussion

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