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Recognition of Foreign Judgments in Brazil

If you’ve recently won a legal judgment or arbitral award in the United States or another country, such a decision will not be automatically valid in Brazil. To enforce this decision in Brazil, you’ll need to have the foreign judgment recognized in the Brazilian legal system.

In Brazil, the recognition and validation of foreign decisions – whether by a court or an arbitration panel – will be decided by the STJ – Superior Tribunal de Justiça. STJ is the second highest court in the country and has original jurisdiction to review foreign decisions.

Keep reading to learn more. Need a local partner to read this content in Portuguese? Leia aqui a versão em português: Homologação de Sentença Estrangeira no Brasil.

Why Enforcing Foreign Judgments in Brazil?

The reason why you’d want to enforce a foreign decision in Brazil is to ensure that the legal ruling is upheld in the country. Here are a few examples of decisions abroad that must be vouched by the STJ before they can produce legal effects in Brazil:

  • if you got a divorce decision from a court in the United States and move to Brazil, you may need to recognize and enforce that judgment here before you can remarry.
  • If you win a civil lawsuit abroad against a company based in Brazil, you will need to have the judgment validated by the STJ before you can collect your money award against the Brazilian company
  • Arbitral decisions are also reviewed by the STJ before they can be enforced in Brazil

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What Constitutes a Valid Judgment in Brazil?

In order for a foreign judgment to be officially recognized by the Brazillian legal system, it needs to meet each of the following requirements:

A. Requirements related to the foreign forum

1. Compliance with the foreign forum rules

First, the judgment in question must have complied with all of the laws and formalities associated with the country in that it happened in. In other words, it needs to meet satisfy all of the requirements associated with such judgments in a non-Brazillian country.

2. Judgment Rendered by an Authority with Jurisdiction

The judgment must also originate from a legal body with authority to deliver such judgments. This is what’s meant by the term “jurisdiction”.

Brazilian courts won’t conduct their tests to determine whether the foreign authorities have jurisdiction or not. They’ll defer to whatever rules for jurisdiction exist in the country in question.

3. Service Requirement

Brazilian courts also want to make sure that the defeated party received service of process. That way, the courts can be sure that the legal issue was resolved fairly and that neither side’s rights were violated in the process of carrying it out.

4. Proof of conclusion

A Brazillian judge will also likely want to see some proof of conclusion for the judgment. If it’s an ongoing legal matter (or one that is in the process of being appealed), it may not yet qualify for validation in Brazil.

A. Requirements related to the Brazilian forum

1. Apostille

Documents from abroad are not automatically accepted in Brazil. The Brazilian authority will want for all documents to be apostilled to ensure they are legitimate. Apostilles are provided by authorities such as Minitry of Foreign Relations in Europe and the Department of State or Secretary of State in the US states.

2. Sworn translation

Sworn translation is a translation provided by translators who have been approved in public examinations in Brazil. Only Brazilian translators located in Brazil are qualified to provide this type of translation.

3. No Conflicts with Brazilian Principles

Finally, the foreign judgment in question can’t violate Brazillian principles such as:

a. National sovereignty: decisions that would confront or circumvent national interests would not survive.

b. Public order: this term encompasses the social values applicable at the time of the decision. Poligamic marriage decisions, for instance, would not be recognized by the Brazilian courts under the “public order” principle.

c. Good morals: also related to the “public order” but more oriented to moral values. Decisions mandating the payment of gambling debt incurred abroad by Brazilians would be fulminated under such a principle.

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Recognition of Foreign Judgments in Brazil – Common Questions

Brazil Golden Visa FAQ

1. Is the recognition of a judgment the same as enforcement?

No, there is a difference between having a legal judgment recognized in Brazil and enforced in the country.

Recognition is the first step in having a foreign legal ruling applied in Brazil. You need to file a request for foreign judgment with the STJ. Once the case has officially been recognized in the country, you can move forward with enforcement.

It’s also worth mentioning that once recognition has occurred, any new legal filings in Brazil for the same case can be dismissed outright.

For example, if someone in Brazil owes you money through a legal ruling in the United States, you may apply to have the case recognized. Then, once that happens, the court can move forward with enforcement. And if the other party tries to file their own claims in Brazillian courts related to the issue, it can be dismissed immediately.

2. Do arbitration procedures and decisions also need recognition?

Yes, just like regular judicial judgments, arbitral decisions are not automatically binding in Brazil. An arbitration award will have to be reviewed by the Superior Tribunal de Justiça (Justice Superior Court) in Brazil to be recognized as a binding decision. Afterward, once the arbitral decision is affirmed, the arbitral award may be demanded and enforced against the losing party.

3. What does homologation means?

Homologation is the technical name used in Brazil to refer to the recognition of a foreign decision. Homologation is also known as the domestication of foreign decisions. Why so many names? Different legal systems have different vocabularies, thus the multiple terms addressing the same legal concepts.

4. Is any connection to Brazil required to apply for the homologation of a foreign judgment in Brazil?

No connection to Brazil is needed in order to recognize or enforce a foreign judgment. As long as the legal judgment in question meets all of the requirements covered in the previous section, it can be validated in Brazil without any further requirements.

Oliveira Lawyers Can Help You Navigate the Validation of Foreign Decisions in Brazil

Validating a foreign decision in Brazil is a lot of work. It’s not typically something you can do on your own unless you’re a trained and licensed Brazillian attorney.

So if you need help, consider reaching out to Oliveira Lawyers. We’ll handle everything for you – from start to finish – so that you can sit back and relax while we validate your foreign sentence for you.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help.

Enforce Foreign Judgment in Brazil?
We Can Help You

[email protected]
(214) 432-8100

#1  Contact us to get a free quote, or
#2 Schedule a Consultation now.