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Thought Leaders

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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Ricardo Bernardi wins high praise as one of the foremost aviation disputes lawyers in Latin America. His top-tier practice encompasses a range of aviation matters, from aircraft financing to leasing.

Questions & Answers

Ricardo Bernardi is the founding partner of Bernardi & Schnapp Advogados. For the past 28 years he has provided full assistance to top international airlines operating in Brazil; aviation underwriters; aircraft manufacturing companies; airport operators; and aircraft financing and leasing companies. He has assisted 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 inspired you to specialise in aviation law?

My father was a doctor, but also an amateur pilot, so I had the chance to fly a lot when I was a kid. After graduating in law, a US-based carrier was starting its operations in Brazil and needed assistance in São Paulo. As it happened, this airline was referred to the firm I worked with. Nobody had experience with aviation at that time so I immediately thought that was what I really wanted to do – so my love affair with aviation law began.

How has aviation practice changed since you started your career?

It has changed dramatically. When I started, very few airlines operated in Brazil, and it was a heavily regulated market. Tickets used to be expensive and travelling by air was a luxury. Airports used to be operated by a government-owned company with poor infrastructure. In the 1990s, the Brazilian government started to deregulate the market both domestically and internationally. Fares were deregulated and air services agreements were liberalised to the point we are at today, where airlines are free to determine ticket prices with no regulatory limitations. Brazil executed and approved open-skies agreements with the US, and others followed. Airports have been privatised, so capacity and efficiency have improved significantly. These developments caused a shift in the airline sector. More airlines initiated operations and ticket prices were lowered. Air travel is no longer a luxury, but a service benefiting an increasing number of people.

How has your experience of drafting the project of the new Brazilian Aeronautics Code enhanced your practice?

It was an opportunity to think about aviation as a whole – focusing not only on the airline industry, but also the aeronautical infrastructure, airports, air traffic control, the accident investigation system, safety rules, aircraft registration and the aircraft manufacturing industry. It also gave me the chance to interact with great professionals from various fields in the aviation sector who were part of the commission of experts instituted by the Senate for drafting this project of law. Although the project has not yet been approved by the Brazilian Congress, the work we produced and the reviews we made when drafting the proposed rules, especially about liberalisation of foreign investments into Brazilian airlines and elimination of the concept of mandatory baggage allowance, have been incorporated in Brazilian laws and regulations.

What has been your most interesting case to date, and why?

It is difficult to pick a case without being unfair for not selecting other interesting ones, but there is one matter that has been especially interesting for me. Not a case, but an educational project that concerns the importance of applying the provisions of the 1999 Montreal Convention for assuring legal certainty, and thus creating a better economic environment for the growth of the airline business in Brazil. It will improve competition and thus benefit consumers. As part of this project, I have organised the first symposium on regulation and liability in Brazil, as well as a magazine on aviation law, and I’ve published several articles on the subject. This project also focuses on the value of aviation to the national economy, especially in the tourism industry, which has a huge potential to be explored. As the eighth largest country in the world with more than 209 million inhabitants, aviation is essential for the development of the country. More than 103 million passengers travelled by air in 2018, and it is estimated that this number will duplicate within the next 10 years. In order to reach this goal, modern regulations and legal certainty will be crucial factors, and what encourages me to move forward with this project.

What are the greatest challenges that Brazilian aviation lawyers will face in the next five years?

Aviation-related businesses will continue to change dramatically. Low-cost products will expand, and carriers will continue to demand cost-effective services. There is no room for lawyers who are not capable of providing cost-effective services, which require a high level of specialisation and experience.

In what ways does Bernardi & Schnapp Advogados stand out from its competitors in the market?

We have a 28 years of experience in aviation law, having assisted clients in this industry with all sorts of legal issues. We have implemented a firm-wide structure comprising lawyers skilled in aviation law and state-of-the-art technology, which allows us to provide high-quality, cost-effective services. We stand out from our competitors for our deep knowledge of aviation law and of our clients’ businesses; efficient solutions to legal matters; prompt responsiveness; and the capability to maintain direct and clear communication with our clients.

You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?

I would like to help Brazilian courts to better understand the main concepts of aviation law – especially the importance of applying international treaties as a way of resolving the extremely high volume of judicialisation that has surfaced in this country, and of avoiding wrong rulings, which negatively affect the sector as a whole. More legal certainty means more investment in the sector, more competition, better services and democratisation of air services. The chance to contribute to the development of the aviation sector in Brazil is extremely rewarding, not only as a lawyer but also as a citizen who believes that aviation is key to the economy and welfare of the country.

What advice would you give to younger practitioners hoping to one day be in your position?

Study, and then when you think you know enough, study more. Share your knowledge with others. Be ethical with your peers and clients and never be completely satisfied with what you’ve got, because we can always do better.

Global 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.

Biography

Ricardo Bernardi is the founding partner of Bernardi & Schnapp Advogados, and has extensive experience in aviation law. For the past 26 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 the chapters “Regulation of Aviation: Regular Air Transportation” to  Regulation of the Economy in Brazil (2003) and “Infrastructure in Environmental Law – Airports” to Infrastructure in the context of Environmental Law (2016). He also contributed the Brazil chapter to The Aviation Law Review (Law Business Research, 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: Recommended

WWL says

Ricardo Bernardi is praised by market sources as an "experienced and thorough" lawyer when it comes to aviation financing matters.

Biography

Ricardo Bernardi is the founding partner of Bernardi & Schnapp Advogados, and has extensive experience in aviation law. For the past 26 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 the chapters “Regulation of Aviation: Regular Air Transportation” to  Regulation of the Economy in Brazil (2003) and “Infrastructure in Environmental Law – Airports” to Infrastructure in the context of Environmental Law (2016). He also contributed the Brazil chapter to The Aviation Law Review (Law Business Research, 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: Recommended

WWL says

Ricardo Bernardi is considered "a really excellent lawyer" on regulatory matters, thanks to 30 years' experience of providing first-class advice.

Biography

Ricardo Bernardi is the founding partner of Bernardi & Schnapp Advogados, and has extensive experience in aviation law. For the past 26 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 the chapters “Regulation of Aviation: Regular Air Transportation” to  Regulation of the Economy in Brazil (2003) and “Infrastructure in Environmental Law – Airports” to Infrastructure in the context of Environmental Law (2016). He also contributed the Brazil chapter to The Aviation Law Review (Law Business Research, 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

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Features by Ricardo Bernardi

Aviation 2018: Discussion

Aviation 2018: Discussion

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