Doing Business in Brazil - Looseleaf
Doing Business in Brazil - Electronic
a. Legal System and Rules of Civil Procedure
27.101 The Brazilian legal system is based on the codified (Roman) Law.
The Judges are bound to follow only the codified laws and, unlike the
Common Law systems, the Lower Courts are not obliged to follow the
decisions rendered by the Higher Courts, which are used only as mere
guidance. The Code of Civil Procedure (Law No.5,869/1973) contains the
main rules of procedures which govern civil court disputes.
b. Civil Court System, Levels of Appeal and Specialist Courts
27.102 The structure of the judiciary framed in the Brazilian Constitution
organises the judiciary branch into Federal—specialised or common—and
State Courts, each with different jurisdiction. Unless one of the parties is a
federal authority or entity, disputes are tried at the State Courts. The right
of appeal to Second Instance is ensured by the Federal Constitution in
Federal and State Courts.
27.103 In specific cases, determined by Law, the parties can also appeal in
a Higher Instance (Federal Supreme Court and Superior Court of Justice,
courts responsible for deciding matters of a constitutional and legal nature,
respectively, already tried at the Second Instance Courts).
c. The Main Stages in Civil Proceedings and Timeframes
27.104 The standard civil proceedings at State or Federal Courts start with
the filing of the complaint at the Lower Civil Courts. A defendant has the
right to file an answer to the complaint. The Judge might establish a
conciliatory hearing and if the conciliation is successful, the proceeding is
finished. If the parties decide not to conciliate, the case will proceed to a
phase of production of evidence (i.e. filing of extra documents, witnesses
depositions and production of expert examination).
27.105 After the production of evidence and with all the necessary
elements in hand, the Judge will finally decide on the case. This court
decision, as explained before, can be the subject of an appeal to the Court
of Appeals. The First Instance phase may last from one to five years,
depending on the scope and length of the evidence in the production phase.
Pinheiro Neto - Advogados, established in 1942, is Brazil's leading commercial law firm with offices in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia. The founding Editor of this publication, the late J.M. Pinheiro Neto, was the Legal Advisor to the British Chamber of Commerce in Brazil.