International Business Law Advisor Insights on International Litigation & Transactions

Service of Process in Brazil, Part II. What You Need to Know.

Posted in International Litigation

Miami Business attorney & lawyerWe are thrilled to present this guest post by Gregory S. Barnett, who is a foreign legal consultant with Angelico Advogados in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

International investment in Brazil is on the rise. As economic struggles persist in the United States, anxious US investors are looking south for new opportunities. And while most countries are struggling, Brazil has weathered the storm with prospects for continued growth in the years to come.

With the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016, all eyes are now turning to Brazil.

An expected consequence of the increase in international investment in Brazil is an increase in multijurisdictional disputes. Where a legal process commenced in the United States involves a party domiciled in Brazil, service of process on the Brazilian party must be made using a letter rogatory.

The procedure is extremely formal, time consuming and expensive. But in most cases it is the only way that US courts will deem service of process as being properly given.  

The US Department of State’s website provides an overview on preparing letters rogatory as does Santiago Cueto’s post titled “Service of Process in Brazil. The Basics.”

Once a letter rogatory is filed in the United States, it is sent by Process Forwarding International, the US Department of Justice’s contractor, to the appropriate Brazilian authorities. Upon receipt in Brazil, the documents are filed with the Superior Court of Justice. It is the Superior Court of Justice, Brazil’s highest federal court, that will review the letter rogatory and initiate service of process.

In Brazil, service of process is the responsibility of the judiciary. Process servers hired to serve process do not exist as they do in the United States. Rather the Brazilian court authorizes the service of process and orders a court official to serve the party in Brazil. Without a pending matter in front of the court, a party cannot be served.

As service of process can only be given through a judicial proceeding, it is generally advisable to engage legal counsel in Brazil. While the letter rogatory process will commence with an action filed in the United States, local counsel can help accompany the process in Brazil.

In addition to filing documents with the court and coordinating with the proper Brazilian authorities, local counsel may be able to speed up the process, saving the client some time.

Prior to engaging in international business transactions, it is important to consult legal counsel capable of advising on cross-border deals. With a bit of careful planning, it is possible to avoid some of the frustrations that result from unexpected disputes.

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Gregory S. Barnett is a foreign legal consultant with Angélico Advogados in São Paulo, Brazil (www.angelicolaw.com). Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Barnett was a member of the global practice group at Greenberg Traurig, P.A. in Miami, Florida. Mr. Barnett has a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC and a Master of Arts in International Law and the Settlement of Disputes from the Universidad para la Paz in Costa Rica.