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An introduction to legal research in the jurisdiction of Brazil
Last Updated: Jul 17, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
Brazil Print Page

Update information

Last updated:

Heather Memess, March 2014


About the author

This guide was created by Heather Memess, Legal Research Support Librarian at the IALS Library.

Click here for Heather's contact details.

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    Related IALS Guides

    • Databases Guide
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    Useful links

    We also recommend the following online research guides for foreign jurisdictions.

    • GlobaLex
      A large collection of legal research guides covering foreign and international law, published by the Hauser Global Law School Program at the New York University School of Law.


    Brazil is a federal republic with a directly elected president. The bicameral National Congress includes the Senate (Senado Federal) and the Chamber of Deputies (Camara dos Deputados), also both directly elected. Brazil was a colony of Portugal for over 300 years and the official language is Portuguese. The majority of legal materials (both printed and electronic) are in Portuguese. Brazil is a civil law country with a legal system based on codes and legislation. The judicial system includes the Federal Supreme Court, the Superior Court of Justice and a range of regional federal courts. There are also separate labour courts, electoral courts and military courts within the federal system.

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    The Constitution is the supreme law in Brazil and the current (seventh) version was ratified in 1988. The 26 federate states have the power to adopt their own constitutions and laws, subject to the principles of the federal Constitution. Municipalities can also pass their own legislation subject to their state Constitution and to the federal Constitution.

    The Brazilian Constitution is available at IALS in the following publications:

    In English –

    • Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil (2010) 5th rev ed. translated and revised by Istvan Vajda et al. Brasília : Federal Senate

      Previous revisions are also available.

    In Portuguese –

    • República Federativa do Brasil Constituição 1988 (1994) Brasília : Senado Federal, Subsecretaria de Edições Técnicas
    •  Constituição da República Federativa do Brasil: Quadro Comparativo (1991) Brasilia : Senado Federal which provides comparisons with earlier versions of the Constitution from 1946, 1967 and 1969.

    The Constitution can be accessed online in World Constitutions Illustrated, from HeinOnline. This service provides consolidated and original texts along with amendments and older versions. Full-text links to commentaries and articles about the Brazilian Constitution and a select bibliography of constitutional works are also given. The Constitution can also be freely accessed online, with amendments, on the website of the President of Brazil

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    Legislation: Codes

    IALS has printed copies of some of the Brazilian codes and many other full-text codes are freely available, in Portuguese, on the Presidential website.

    Examples of some of the codes currently held at IALS are given below -

    Commercial Code:

    • Ulhoa, Fábio (2011). Código comercial e legislação complementar anotados. São Paulo: Editora Saraiva. (Portuguese)
    • Oliveira, Juarez de (1994) Código comercial brasileiro. São Paulo: Editora Saraiva. (Portuguese)

    Civil Code:

    The most recent Civil Code 2002 can be viewed online in Portuguese on the Presidential website. IALS also
    holds printed copies of the 2002 code –

    • The Brazilian civil code in English (2012) translated by Leslie Rose. Rio de Janeiro: Renovar

    • Júnior, Nelson Nery and Nery, Rosa Maria de Andrade (2011) Código civil comentado. São Paulo: Editora Revista dos Tribunais (Portuguese)

    Printed versions of the 1916 code (superseded) are also available at IALS.

    Criminal Code:

    IALS has printed copies of the Criminal Code –

    • Prado, Luiz Regis. (2012) Comentários ao Código penal : jurisprudência, conexões lógicas com os vários ramos do direito. São Paulo: Editora Revista dos Tribunais (Portuguese)
    • Delmanto, Celso. (1991) Código penal comentado. Rio de Janeiro: Edição Renovar (Portuguese with commentary)

    Code of Civil Procedure:

    • Marinoni, Luiz Guilherme. (2011) Código de processo civil. São Paulo: Editora Revista dos Tribunais (Portuguese)

    Code of Criminal procedure:

    • Nucci, Guilherme de Souza (2012). Código de processo penal comentado. São Paulo: Editora Revista dos Tribunais (Portuguese)

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    Legislation: National legislation

    The President’s website has legislation going back to 1892 in Portuguese only.

    LexML Portal provides access to legislation and case law some of which is available in full text. Materials are supplied by the Office of the Federal Solicitor General (AGU) and the Office of the General Prosecutor, Supreme Federal Court (STF).

    The Diário oficial (official gazette) is available in full text from 1 Jan 1992 onwards on the website of the National Press.

    IALS holds two older, printed series of Brazilian legislation both in Portuguese:

    • Collecção das leis do Imperio do Brazil 1828- 1881. Rio de Janeiro : Typographia Nacional (incomplete)
    • Collecção das leis da República dos Estados Unidos do Brazil de 1939-1988. Rio de Janeiro: Imprensa Nacional (incomplete)
    • The loose leaf publication Pinheiro, N (1995) Doing Business in Brazil. New York: Transnational Juris provides business related laws in English covering company, competition, bankruptcy and copyright laws.

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    Law reports

    IALS holds the printed series Revista Trimestral de Jurisprudência, from 1963 onwards. It has decisions of the Supreme Court, indexed alphabetically and numerically. (Portuguese)

    Revista dos tribunais (Journal of the Courts), held 1912- 1977, has civil and criminal judgments from the Supreme Federal Court and a number of state courts along with articles, notes and commentary. See Journals section below for further information. (Portuguese)

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    IALS library holds books on Brazilian law in both Portuguese and English. Some recent acquisitions include –

    • Levy, D de A et al. (2014) Investment protection in Brazil. Alphen aan den Rijn: Kluwer Law international (English)

    • Meszaros, G (2013) Social movements, law, and the politics of land reform: lessons from Brazil. Abingdon: Routledge (English)

    • Dolinger, J. (2012) Private international law in Brazil. Kluwer (English)
    • Gaban, E. M. (2012) Antitrust law in Brazil : fighting cartels. Alphen aan den Rijn : Wolters Kluwer Law & Business (English)
    • Nasser, P. M. (2011) Onerosidade excessiva no contrato civil. São Paulo : Editora Saraiva (Portuguese)
    • Fabiano, D and Barral, W. (2011) Introduction to Brazilian law. Alphen aan den Rijn : Kluwer Law International (English)
    • Neto, E.S. and Levy, J.E.P. (2011) Corporations and partnerships in Brazil. Alphen aan den Rijn : Kluwer Law International (English)
    • Tamagno, M.B. (2010) Intellectual property law in Brazil. Alphen aan den Rijn : Wolters Kluwer Law & Business (English)

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    IALS holds the following Brazilian law journals, which are all in Portuguese:

    • Revista da Faculdade de Direito Sao Paulo from 1946 – 2005
    • Revista da Faculdade de Direito (Universidade Federal do Paraná) from 1953 - 2010
    • Revista forense: mensário nacional de doutrina, jurisprudência e legislação from 1946 to 1987
    • Revista de Informacao Legislativa from 1966 onwards
    • Revista da Faculdade de Direito da Universidade de Uberlandia from 1974 to 2004
    • Revista dos tribunais from 1912 to 1977. This 'Journal of the Courts' has civil and criminal judgments from the Supreme Federal Court and a number of state courts, along with articles, notes and commentary.
    • Revista juridica: orgão cultural da Faculdade Nacional de Direito da Universidade do Brazil from 1942 to 1967
    • Scientia iuridica 1960 – (incomplete): a comparative law journal, published in Portugal by the University of Minho and covering Portuguese and Brazilian law.

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    Research guides

    Doing legal research in Brazil by Edilenice Passos, published on Globalex in July 2008, gives an introduction to the Brazilian legal system with details of printed and online legal materials.

    IALS Library also has a printed research guide for Brazil: Passos, Edilenice (c2001), Doing legal research in Brazil. The Netherlands: BookWorld Publications.  An updated version dated 2002, is also available on the LLRX website.

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    Free internet resources

    The President of Brazil’s website has a legislation portal. Legislation is arranged by type (codes, decrees, statutes etc.) and subject. There is also a collection of historically important laws, including previous constitutions.

    Eagle-i Internet Portal for Law has access to legal information from around the world.  You can browse by jurisdiction and choose Brazil to display details of 7 primary and secondary resources.

    Latin Laws brings together a collection of full-text legislation and case law for all the Latin American countries. The background information on the site is available in English but the text of the legislation and case reports is only in the original languages. It is possible to search using keywords across all jurisdictions.

    WorldLII: Brazil has links to sites providing Brazilian legal information from many government and other official sites.

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