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Brazil: IALS Library Guides

An introduction to legal research in the jurisdiction of Brazil


Guide last updated by Heather Memess, September 2022

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


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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.


The Constitution is the supreme law in Brazil and the current 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.

  • Fernandes, C.B (2012) Constitutional law in Brazil. Alphen aan den Rijn: Wolters Kluwer Law

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.

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:

  • Coelho, F.U. (2011). Código comercial e legislação complementar anotados. São Paulo: Editora Saraiva. 
  • Oliveira, J. (1994) Código comercial brasileiro. São Paulo: Editora Saraiva. 

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

  • Nery, N. and Nery, R.M. (2017) Código civil comentado. São Paulo: Editora Revista dos Tribunais 

Printed versions of the 1916 code (superseded) are also available at IALS.

Criminal Code:

IALS has printed copies of the Criminal Code-

  • Prado, L.R. (2017) Comentários ao Código penal : jurisprudência, conexões lógicas com os vários ramos do direito. São Paulo: Editora Revista dos Tribunais 
  • Delmanto, C. (1991) Código penal comentado. Rio de Janeiro: Edição Renovar 

Code of Civil Procedure - a new code came into force in 2016:

  • Neves, D. A. A. (2018) Novo Codigo de processo civil comentado: artigo por artigo. Salvador, Bahia: Editora JusPodium. 
  • Marinoni, L. G. (2022) Código de processo civil: Comentado. São Paulo: Editora Revista dos Tribunais 

Code of Criminal procedure:

  • Nucci, G.S. (2017). Código de processo penal comentado. São Paulo: Editora Revista dos Tribunais 

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. The Diário Oficial da União (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 1892-1988. 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.

Law reports

The Supreme Federal Court website has selected case summaries in Portuguese.

IALS holds the printed series Revista Trimestral de Jurisprudência, from 1963 - 2014. 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)


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

  • Alves, C.F (2020) Defensoria publica no seculo XX1:novos horizontes e desafios. Rio de Janeiro: Lumen Juris
  • Cunha, L.G et al (eds) (2018) The Brazilian legal profession in the age of globalization: the rise of the corporate legal sector and its impact on lawyers and society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 
  • Costa, J.A.F et al (eds) (2018) Energy law and regulation in Brazil. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. 
  • Camara, A. F (2018) O novo processo civil Brasileiro. Sao Paulo: Atlas.
  • Fazio, S (2018) Brazilian commercial law: a practical guide. Alphen aan den Rijn: Wolters Kluwer 
  • Feiten, L (2021) Contract law in Brazil. Alphen aan den Rijn: Wolters Kluwer 
  • Pereira, C (2017-2018) Instituicoes de direito civil (6 volumes). Rio de Janeiro: Forense.
  • Sester, P (2022) Business and investment in Brazil: law and practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press (ebook)


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 - 2011
  • Revista forense: mensário nacional de doutrina, jurisprudência e legislação from 1946 to 1987 (incomplete)
  • Revista de Informacao Legislativa from 1966 - 2014
  • 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.

Research guides

Legal research in Brazil by Monaliza Da Silva, published on Globalex in 2019, 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, E (c2001), Doing legal research in Brazil. The Netherlands: BookWorld Publications. 

Free web 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. LexML is a portal to legislation and case law sourced from several government bodies.

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 15 primary and secondary resources.

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