Guide last updated by Heather Memess, September 2022
We also recommend the following online research guides for foreign jurisdictions.
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 –
Previous revisions are also available.
Fernandes, C.B (2012) Constitutional law in Brazil. Alphen aan den Rijn: Wolters Kluwer Law
In Portuguese –
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.
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 -
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
Printed versions of the 1916 code (superseded) are also available at IALS.
IALS has printed copies of the Criminal Code-
Code of Civil Procedure - a new code came into force in 2016:
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
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:
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-
IALS holds the following Brazilian law journals, which are all in Portuguese:
IALS Library also has a printed research guide for Brazil: Passos, E (c2001), Doing legal research in Brazil. The Netherlands: BookWorld Publications.
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.