Legal system in Brazil
The legal system provides the structural frame work for doing business. The legal system in Brazil is based upon the Napoleonic Code, or the “Code Napoléon,” originally called the “Code civil des Français,” or the Civil Code of the French, which was brought to Brazil by the Portuguese.
Civil code versus Common Law
[notice]For all Americans and UK business people the following is something of crucial importance to understand. [/notice]
The Civil Code, perhaps needless to say, is quite different from the Common Law upon which the legal systems of the U.S. and the U.K. are based. These differences not only impact how business is done, but also how Brazilians and their lawyers think. At this point, there is no need to get into all the differences between the Civil Code and the Common Law, but do keep in mind that this difference does impact the nature of doing business in Brazil. For instance, in the U.S. if you want to know what the law is, you check the statutes, rules and regulations. But you also need to check how these laws have been interpreted and applied by reviewing past legal cases. Under the Civil Code your inquiry stops with the statutes, rules and regulation – the Civil Code itself.
Forget about creative interpretations of the law, or complying with the spirit of the law and not the letter of the law. If the Civil Code says that you need to do X, you need to do X. There is no room for making analogical arguments, such as since doing Y would have the same result as doing X, it should be okay – and perfectly legal – to do Y and not X. You might as well put away your thinking cap, and get ready to follow the letter of the law down to a T, even if you can think of a hundred different and perhaps better ways to do the same thing.