Since the World Health Organization (“WHO”) called the COVID-19 outbreak pandemic, Brazilian authorities started to take actions aiming at lessening the proliferation of the virus. However, as the numbers of infected cases rise in Brazil, further, more stringent measures were adopted, essentially to increase social distancing.
The Judiciary responded quickly, especially because courts in Brazil see a great daily influx of people, which means that parties, lawyers, and public employees would be more exposed to the virus.
In this scenario, the state courts initially decided to stay the procedural deadlines and to limit public access to the courts, while still rendering services inside the courts’ buildings.
As the situation became graver, however, tighter measures became necessary. As a result, most of the state courts (among which the Sao Paulo State Court) decided to interrupt activities in their buildings and to work in extraordinary on-call regime, all the while keeping the procedural deadlines stayed.
Subsequently, and with the purpose of unifying the courts’ approach to the COVID-19 crisis, the National Council of Justice (“CNJ”) issued Resolution 313, whereby it provided that the Superior Court of Justice (“STJ”), the state courts, the federal courts, and the labor courts should all work under extraordinary on-call regime. The only exceptions to Resolution 313 are the Supreme Court and the electoral courts.
Therefore, procedural deadlines are now stayed until April 30, 2020, and the courts’ buildings are allowed to stay closed. Moreover, under the on-call regime, the courts are instructed to prioritize urgent measures sought by citizens and organizations.
In parallel, some courts, such as the Sao Paulo State Court, adopted home office for all their judges and employees, and authorized the publication of decisions and awards through the Electronic Official Gazette. Deadlines, however, remain stayed.
The goal of all these measures is to enable parties’ and lawyers’ access to the Judiciary and to avoid a complete shutdown of the courts. As a result, there remains the possibility that parties file new lawsuits and move the ongoing cases forward, even if at distance.
All the while, our law firm remains available to help its clients to navigate these difficult times.