On May 26, the President signed Law No. 13.129/15 ("Bill") amending the Brazilian Arbitration Act of 1996 (Law No. 9.307/96). This Bill was published on May 27 in the official gazette, but it will undergo a 60-day period of "vacatio legis" before coming into force.
The Bill introduces innovations that validate the support of the Brazilian Courts to arbitration demonstrated in the last two decades. Moreover, it updates the Brazilian Arbitration Act to protect the interests of the parties that choose arbitration as the means to resolve their disputes.
The most relevant innovations brought by this Bill include:
- Provisions regulating disputes involving the public administration (i.e. state-owned entities, governmental agencies and the Brazilian Government in general);
- An amendment to the Brazilian Corporate Law (Law No. 6.404/76) that stipulates that an arbitration agreement in corporate by-laws binds all shareholders. A shareholder who objects to the inclusion of an arbitration agreement into a by-law has the right to sell his shares and withdraw from the corporation; and
- The creation of an "Arbitral Letter"; an instrument to facilitate the communication between the arbitral tribunal and state courts. The arbitral tribunal may use this letter to request enforcement of its orders in the courts more efficiently.
The Bill consolidates the Superior Court of Justice's case-law on interim measures, allowing courts to grant interim relief before the constitution of an arbitral tribunal. In addition, the arbitral tribunal may review, revoke or modify an interim relief granted by the courts before its constitution.
Lastly, the President vetoed two sections of the Bill that would have permitted arbitration of employment disputes involving corporate officers, and would have excluded the requirement for specific consent for arbitration agreements in consumer contracts.
Despite the narrow vetoes, the Bill brought crucial changes to arbitrations in Brazil. These changes are perceived by experts in this field as a significant development in support of arbitration in this country as the Bill´s provisions have broadened and solidified the scope and effectiveness of local arbitral tribunals.