Data from the National Justice Council (CNJ) shows that over 100 million lawsuits are currently before Brazilian courts. In 2010, the same institution revealed Brazil had over 1,240 law courses on offer, more than the United States, China and all of Europe combined. Brazil remains a jurisdiction with deep-seated contentious roots, however, new technologies have the potential to transform the country’s legal landscape.
Innovation as transformation
Innovation is an essential part of transformation and when it comes to dispute resolution, technology is set to play a leading role in revolutionizing Brazil’s litigious culture. The fourth industrial revolution is promoting important organizational changes in people’s lives at both a personal and professional level. In the Brazilian legal market, two trends are worth highlighting: i) The Brazilian judiciary’s aim to go digital and democratize litigation-reducing mechanisms; ii) The rising level of investment in lawtechs by major companies seeking alternative solutions to their expressive number of judicial cases in Brazil.
Launched in 2011, the Electronic Judicial Process (PJe) is a system developed by the CNJ in tandem with with state and federal courts and the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB), designed to replace the traditional paper-based lawsuit. Since 2014, the CNJ exclusively uses the system to accept and register new lawsuits. The PJe benefits all parties involved as it improves access to data and reduces the inefficiencies typical of traditional lawsuits. Moreover, since the publication of CNJ Resolution 125, in 2010, which launched a National Judicial Policy for Adequate Conflict Treatment and subsequently established permanent centers for consensual conflict resolution methods (NUPEMECs) in each court as well as judicial centers for conflict resolution and citizenship (CEJUSCs), the institution has been pursuing innovative solutions to deal with the immensely high number of cases in Brazilian courts.
A modern mentality
In May 2018, the CNJ launched a new mediation-focused digital platform created in light of Resolution 125, the Brazilian Mediation Law (Law n. 13.140/2015) and the new Civil Procedural Code. The platform aims to simplify extrajudicial and judicial dispute resolution, particularly with regards to financial institutions, by encouraging consensual solutions between consumers and organizations. The CNJ’s digital approach indicates a changing mentality within the Brazilian judiciary as new technologies are adopted. After all, the judiciary’s remodeling should result in cost reductions and gains in efficiency. Abandoning paper-based lawsuits, for example, should free up space in offices thus rendering huge structures unnecessary, just as encouraging alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods should reduce the proliferation of new disputes, allowing for the gradual abatement of existing judicial backlogs.
The private sector is also embracing innovative legal solutions. From a corporate perspective, as a high volume of litigation generates costs and image issues, whilst also creating waiting times and stress for consumers, ADR is becoming increasingly popular. As ADR aims to provide constructive exchanges between litigating parties, more amicable experiences may gradually lessen people’s predisposition to litigate and eventually prevent litigation altogether. Indeed, companies have been seeking out lawtechs such as Sem Processo, which offers a proven track record of reducing hefty litigation portfolios via a mediation-oriented digital platform.
From a legal perspective, the greatest contribution of new technologies may be reducing the number of existing as well as of future litigation cases, a hot-topic in Brazil where the judiciary remains overwhelmed and many law firms end up specializing in mass litigation. With both the public and private sectors embracing innovation, the future of the Brazilian legal market seems very bright indeed.