A new Brazilian Civil Procedure Code

I would still want to keep this blog a place focused on technical discussions, but this calls for a personal touch. Today President Dilma Roussef has signed into law the new Brazilian Civil Procedure Code. Despite the long time the bill has spent in both houses of Congress for debate – there has been a number of public consultations – it is obviously too early to assess the actual impact the new legislation will cause in the daily life of individuals and companies. Lawyers, for one, have been voicing somewhat publicly and in a sort of consensus that whatever it is which has been going on in Brazilian courts under the old code, improvements are terribly needed. If the adequate response to the conundrum of belated judgments versus superficial decisions should necessarily be the enactment of new legislation is something else entirely. That is true, indeed, for a whole bunch of other problems. Take the civil law approach endorsed in the Brazilian legal system and the common law-based, stare decisis-like provisions enabling higher courts to set binding precedents to lower courts: whilst the adequacy of such provisions is easily understandable in a mass society, even in large-scale conflicts one often finds trial courts basically making anything they wish out of the law.

As far as the international community might be interested, we may expect more openness of the Brazilian legal system to interactions with foreign jurisdictions. Currently, under article 90 of the code, cases brought before foreign courts will not operate as lis alibi pendens in Brazil. Although a similar provision remains in the new code, an explicit exception to this rule is made for international treaties and bilateral agreements. By the same token, forum selection clauses may be aptly argued as preliminary defense and a whole chapter for international cooperation is set forth.

In the year to come, during the vacatio legis, I will come back to this.