In 2015, the body supervising the Brazilian Judiciary (Corregedoria Nacional de Justiça, or CNJ) included among its yearly objectives the specialization of two first instance courts in each state capital on matters ancillary to arbitration, a project that is now well underway.
The goal set forth by the CNJ specifically calls upon each state’s jurisdiction to “attribute the competence of examining and judging disputes relating to the Arbitration Act to two of the civil sections currently existing in each state capital, thereby making such courts specialized in arbitration.”
Since then, as announced by the CNJ, 17 out of the 27 units of the Brazilian federation have carried out this design and created a special area of competence between the first instance courts of their respective state capitals.
The most recent—and perhaps more relevant—addition to this list is the State of São Paulo, whose Court of Appeals issued on 29 July 2015 its Resolution 709 of 2015 attributing to the first, second and third bankruptcy court sessions of São Paulo the competence to “process, examine and judge” the “lawsuits deriving from the Arbitration Act (Law No. 9,307 of 1996).”
This comes after a string of legislative measures fostering arbitration, including the enactment of certain modernizing amendments to the Brazilian Arbitration Act and is certainly auspicious news.
Even though the decisions rendered by the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice demonstrate a strong judicial policy in favor of arbitration and apply the concepts of arbitration law very competently, there have been some unfortunate cases where decisions rendered by first instance or appellate courts appear to fumble with the concepts of arbitration law.
The creation of specialized first instance courts in each State capital will certainly increase the dependability and friendliness towards the arbitration of decisions from low level courts, helping consolidate the legal framework for arbitration in Brazil.
Since arbitration proceedings with situs in Brazil have become increasingly common before many global arbitration institutions, this measure can also bolster the bids of Rio de Janeiro (whose business court sections have been specialized in arbitration for a while now) and also of São Paulo, as those cities aspire to be recognized worldwide as first-class arbitration venues.