Civil Justice in Crisis: Comparative Perspectives of Civil Procedure

By Adrian A. S. Zuckerman; Sergio Chiarloni et al. | Go to book overview

10
Administration of Civil Justice in Brazil

Sergio Bermudes


1. SIGNIFICANCE

Although Brazil has a federal constitution (the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Brazil of 5 October 1988), the Brazilian Code of Civil Procedure (in Portuguese, Código de Processo Civil, frequently abbreviated as CPC) governs procedure in courts throughout the whole country. This makes the Brazilian system, covering as it does the whole of the fourth largest country in the world, one of the very largest anywhere. The population of Brazil is increasing, and is expected to reach close to 200 million people by the turn of the century.


2. THE BRAZILIAN COURTS

2.1. State and federal jurisdictions

Brazil has a dual system of civil jurisdiction. Under Article 109 of the Constitution, some cases, such as those to which the Federal Unionor some entities of the federal administration are parties, are reserved for the federal courts. These cases are tried at first instance by a single federal judge. Decisions of such federal courts may be appealed to a regional federal tribunal, whose jurisdiction may cover more than one state of the Union.

A civil case will generally start before one of the state or federal courts of first instance having civil jurisdiction. 'Civil cases' in this context comprises all cases which are neither criminal, labour, nor electoral. Labour cases are those arising from conflicts between employer and employee, for which Brazil has a separate system of courts. There is also a separate electoral court system, which is in charge of matters involving political parties, candidates, and elections generally. The term 'civil cases' thus goes beyond the standard definition of disputes between private parties, to encompass all cases involving: the Federal Union; the states and the municipalities; their agents and authorities; and all commercial cases, including bankruptcy proceedings and tax cases.

The court before which a civil case commences has a single judge, who presides over the proceedings from commencement through to final judgment. As well as the final decision (setença), all interlocutory decisions can also be appealed to the court of appeals. Appeals are tried in chambers of three justices at state courts, or five justices at federal courts. If there is a dissenting opinion at

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