Digital Landscape in South America: Brazil


Law of Transparency:

On November 18, 2011, President Dilma Rouseff signed Lei No. 12.527, as passed by the National Congress guaranteeing access to information by the federal, state, and local governments in accordance with the Federal Constitution.  The law took effect on May 16, 2012, by way of presidential decree No. 7,724.

Several years ago, a presidential decree was issued, requiring the creation of a Portal da Transparencia. This portal of transparency provides access to fiscal information specifically. The Federal Senate also has a transparency portal with the purpose of providing administrative, lawmaking, and financial information to the public. The Federal Senate website is a gateway to legal information, specifically the Constitution and legislation. With the signing of the 2011 law came a new website dedicated to providing access to information in Brasil.


LexML: This government website seeks to “unify, organize and facilitate the access to legislative and legal information made available in digital form by several bodies of the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary, the Office of the Federal Solicitor General (AGU), and the Office of the General Prosecutor, at the federal, state, municipal, and Federal District levels”. is available for free in five languages. It connects users with free legal information, libraries, courts, government agencies, attorneys, and more. Its focus is on Brazil but contains connections to worldwide information.

Latin Laws: Biblioteca Legal Latinoamericana redirects users to official Brazilian government websites. This is a great place to start, but the material posted is now a few years old so follow-up research to confirm currency is required.

IberIUS: Red Iberoamericana de Información y Documentación Judicial has unofficial, pdf, full-text documents in its collection including important codes and laws, and will also redirect users to government websites for legal documents such as legislation and jurisprudence. The site additionally provides information using graphs and text to explain a country’s judicial organization, individual courts, and other government organs.

NATLEX is the database of the International Labour Organisation - The focus of NATLEX is on national labor, social security, and related human rights legislation. The records in NATLEX provide abstracts of legislation (with internally hyperlinked documents) and relevant citation information. Full-text pdfs of scanned original documents are made available when possible as are links to relevant online resources. One can browse by county or subject, or search by keywords and by subject classifications.

ECOLEX is a database of environmental law operated jointly by UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and incorporates environmental law holdings from each of these organizations. One can search any number of ways including by country. ECOLEX includes information on treaties, international soft-law and other non-binding policy and technical guidance documents, national legislation, judicial decisions, and law and policy literature. The results are abstracts and citation and indexing information about each document. Full-text of most documents is obtained by linking the user to government sites containing the document.

FAOLEX is the database of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations - After selecting one of 15 topics or “all”, the user is directed to an advanced search screen where one can focus the search by country among other options. The results are abstracts with citation and indexing information for each document. Full-text of most documents is obtained by linking the user to government sites containing the document.

The Doing Business Law Library hosted by the World Bank - is the largest free online collection of business laws and regulations. One can search by economy or individual country; results will link to official government sources wherever possible. Translations are generally not official unless indicated otherwise, and although the database is updated regularly, currency is not guaranteed; therefore, further research would be prudent.


The Constituição da República Federativa do Brasil is the supreme law of the land in Brazil. States may create their own constitutions but they are limited by principles set forth in the federal Constitution.

The official Constitution of Brazil is available on the website of the President of the Federal Republic of Brazil. This Constitution is annotated with references to laws, decrees, and amendments, and even has annotated line-out editing to show recent changes. The annotations are hyperlinked and lead to the law or amendment. There is also a page listing all the Constitutional amendments, hyperlinked to the full-text of the amendment.

The Constitution is also available in official, pdf format on the federal Senate website, in the legislation pages.

The Chamber of Deputies has the current and all previous Constitutions of Brazil available in html and pdf. All Constitutional amendments affecting the current Constitution of 1988 are available as well. The previous Constitutions, including the first Constitution of the Empire of Brazil from 1824, are particularly impressive.

The Political Databases of the Americas at Georgetown University also has the current and past Constitutions available for Brazil in Portuguese, unofficial, html format. The current 1988 Constitution has 2010 reforms incorporated. There is an English version of the 1988 Constitution with 1996 reforms available as well.

The University of Richmond’s Constitution Finder redirects patrons to Brazilian government and other websites for various iterations of the Constitution from 1967 to 1995.

Codes, Laws, Decrees, Resolutions, and other Legal Norms:

Legislation becomes law forty-five days after it is published in the official gazette, the Diário Oficial da Uniã , unless a shorter or longer period is indicated in the legislation. In practice, most legislation has language that makes it effective immediately upon publication in the Diário Oficial.

The Diário Oficial -is a free resources with an easy to use advanced search option, or easy to navigate pages where one can drill down by type of law and date. It is an official pdf published by the federal government printing office.

The Federal Senate and National Congress gazettes are also available on the Federal Senate website when one can search the full-text pdf by date and/or keyword.

Legislação, the database created and maintained by the website of the President of the Federal Republic of Brazil- provides free access to the Constitution, ordinary laws, complementary laws, codes, statutes, provisionary laws, decrees, and more. This database is quite complete. For example, the full-text of ordinary laws is available as far back as 1892; complementary laws from 1962; decrees from 1889; provisional measures from 1988 (the year of the current Constitution); 17 codes dating back to 1850; and more. In addition to having the ability to drill down to find laws by topic or date, there is an advanced search option where one can search by keyword (Boolean-style), type of law, number, date, and/or year. A quick search of esportes in 2010 return the full-text of 24 laws, decrees, provisionary measures, etc., many pertaining to the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2014. There is a section on historical laws from the colonial and imperial periods. This page will also link one to the official state government legislative websites of Brazil’s 26 states and Federal District, as well as the website of the Minister of Foreign Relations for access to international treaties and the federal courts.

The Federal Senate also has an excellent website dedicated to providing legislation free to the public. Here, one can conduct a simple keyword search for a certain type of legislation, or a more advanced search focusing in on one or several types in the complex legislative scheme, date, and more. One can view the results in full-text or summary, see the details of the legislation, and find related and previous laws. One can even save select results into a cart and view the search history.

The Chamber of Deputies also has Brazilian legislation available and searchable from 1808 to the present. One can search by keyword, number, year, type of law, date, at where the law originated. The imperial laws are scanned pdfs of the print volumes (1808 – 1889); unfortunately the pdfs are not fully searchable due to the poor quality of the print. As the print improves over the years, the documents are more easily searchable. The same is true of the Collection of the Laws of the Republic (1889 – 2000), though these appear fully searchable.

The Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) of the National Library of Congress of the United States of America- contains English summaries of over 20,000 Brazilian laws from 1934 to about one ago. Most summaries contain full-text, official, and authentic pdf copy of the law as printed in the Diário Oficial.

The World Law Guide has a list of Brazilian laws, organized topically, most of which redirect the user to official government websites. This is a terrific place to look for laws pertaining to a multitude of topics.


Legislation by Topic:

Legislação- is the database maintained by the website of the President of the Federal Republic of Brazil. The database organizes laws by topic, such as access to justice, consumers, crimes, family, sport, etc. There are over 40 topical collections.

Additionally, the website for each ministry provides legislation relevant to its work. There are over two dozen such ministries such as:

The OAS website on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition has a page for Brazil- wherein texts such as the Brazilian Constitution, the codes of criminal law and criminal procedure, and other relevant national legislation are provided. There are also bilateral extradition and other relevant treaties, as well as multilateral treaties going back to the early 20th century. Some of these documents are official pdfs, others are unofficial html, doc, and pdf documents.


Súmulas vinculantes are precedential opinions of the Federal Supreme Court, the highest court in Brazil, which have been decided by 2/3 of the justices and formally pronounced as such. All courts must abide by these rulings. Prior to the provision for súmulas vinculants in the 2004 Constitutional amendments (Art. 103-A, Emenda Constitutional 45/2004), there existed a less formal manner of creating non-binding precedent with súmulas. Súmulas are short, official restatements of the Court’s recurrent position on a particular issue of the law which carry great persuasive force and tend to determine the outcome of similar cases.

The Federal Supreme Court acts as a constitutional court specializing in judicial review and acting as the guardian of the Constitution. The Federal Supreme Court engages in both abstract review, for which it has original and exclusive jurisdiction, and concrete review, or appellate jurisdiction. The Superior Tribunal of Justice is the court of cassation. Brazil, as a signatory to the American Convention on Human Rights, submits to the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as the court of last instance in relevant matters.

Prior to 1 January 2011, jurisprudence of Brazilian courts was published in the official judicial gazette, Diário da Justiça. This gazette has been discontinued and decisions are now published in the Diário Oficial.

The Federal Supreme Court website maintains a database where one can search for jurisprudence of the court. One can conduct Boolean keyword searches and/or search by case number, judge, date, and/or related legislation (with very specific limits such as type of legislation, article, and paragraph). There is a page dedicated to searching accords issued by the Court which utilizes Boolean searching by keyword only. There is a subject index direct actions of unconstitutionality (ADIs), which can be proposed only by the President and other named individuals defined by statute. On can also search the constitutional jurisprudence of the CPLP (Community of Portuguese Language Countries: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé e Príncipe, and Timor-Leste). There are even several dozen case abstracts available in English, French, and Spanish. There are also pages dedicated to súmulas and súmulas vinculantes. Note the Court has also provided translations for several cases in various languages.

Jurisprudence of the Superior Tribunal of Justice can be accessed with the same searching methodology as the Federal Supreme Court search screen. There is a separate page for searching annotated summaries of the court.

The Council on Federal Justice administers a portal to national tribunal of uniformity, specialized federal courts. There is an advanced search option where one can narrow by number, judge, date, type of decision, and more.

The Superior Court of Labor has their current and resolved cases available online as well as their daily journal. Jurisprudence can be searched by simple keyword and is available in full-text, officially stamped, rich-text format.

The Superior Electoral Court has a broad search option for jurisprudence across the federal and all (or selected) state electoral tribunals. There is a separate search screen for finding the judgments of just the Superior Electoral Court, searchable by date or cause number. The daily gazette from this court is also available in pdf here.

The Superior Military Court has their jurisprudence online and searchable with the same methodology of the other courts – Boolean keyword searching with limits such as case number, judge, date, subject, and/or related legislation.

The Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) of the national Library of Congress of the United States of America- contains English summaries of almost 200 records of court decisions from 1996 to about one years ago with the full-text, official, and authentic pdf copy as printed in the Diário da Justiça.

Doctrine (Journals, Treatises, Commentary):

SciELO -has several Brazilian law journals available online, full-text, including Revista Direito GV and Sur.

Dialnet -is an open-access index of journals based at the Universidad de La Rioja, Spain. It contains a large number of Latin American legal journals and articles. One can search for journals or articles using advanced search functions. Some articles and journals are available full-text online from the journal website; a few articles are available full-text from the index.

Redalyc is a database of Latin American and Caribbean journals with full-text, authentic pdfs.. Although it does not yet contain any legal journals from Brazil, there are law review articles about Brazil indexed and available in the database.

Latindex -provides bibliographic information for Latin American journals, such as the Revista Brasileira de Ciências Jurídicas, but does not provide a database to search for articles within the journals nor does it provide full-text access to journal content.

A collection of open access journals from Latin America, including Brazil, can found on the website of the University of Fribourg, Switzerland–and another at the Library of the Uruguayan Association of Escribanos.


This open access website of the Minister of Foreign Relations has a page dedicated to bilateral accords currently in force organized by country. Most treaties promulgated in the last ten to twenty years are available in full-text; older full-text availability is spotty. One can also search for both bilateral and multilateral treaties in force by topic.

The Organization of American States (OAS) -has a list of bilateral and multilateral treaties between and among countries in the Americas focusing on extradition, drug trafficking, and international criminal law. One can browse alphabetically or search by keyword.

The United Nations Treaty Collection contains the full-text, official, scanned pdf of all multilateral treaties deposited with the United Nations. One can search by popular name, keyword, United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS) volume, or country.

Commercial Databases:

Editora Saraiva- contains legislation, jurisprudence, and doctrine.

The print journal, Editora Revista dos Tribunais, has been in circulation since 1912 - - and is now available online. It recently combined with Thomson Reuters to create Revista dos Tribunais Online. It launched April 7, 2011, incorporating all issues of the Revista since 1912.

vLex - has quite good coverage of Brazilian legal material in an organized, easy to locate, searching system. They have a number of codes and laws, decrees, regulations, etc., as well as the decisions of the courts that are available from the various individual tribunal websites. vLex allows users to search across courts or focus on one or more. There are also a growing number of law reviews and social science journals available. There are no official pdfs; all results are unofficial html or vLex-generated pdfs. Instant Google translation is available.

The NatLaw World database has a collection of important Brazilian legislation and case law– including the early civil codes from 1850 and 1916. The site is not comprehensive but the material is easy to find and retrieve. The documents are pdfs, some official, but most are unofficial pdfs prepared by the National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade.

The Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (IFLP) is a subscription database that indexes foreign journals from all over the world including about 25 from Latin America. IFLP indexes several journals from Brazil including Revista Forense: Mensário Nacional de Doutrina, Jurisprudência e Legislação and Revista Brasileira de Direito Comparado.

Kluwer Arbitration has a database of all bilateral investment treaties including those from Latin American countries. Most of the BITs are available in full-text html. Although one can search in English, the results are in the vernacular.

Updated Date: 
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Knowledge Base: