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Electronic petitioning: economy and agility

In the course of technological evolution, the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (STF) is modernizing the way legal cases are processed in the court through e-STF system. The Extraordinary Appeal (RE) was the forerunner of the electronic petitioning in court, beginning in June 2007. However, in the case of RE, the lawyers can still choose to submit the file electronically or through the conventional system on paper.

Since August 1, 2010, the second phase of implementation of the electronic petitioning, 14 classes of procedure are only accepted by the Supreme Court in electronic media. They are: Direct Action of Unconstitutionality (ADI), Action of Unconstitutionality (ADO), Declaratory Action of Constitutionality (ADC), Allegation of Disobedience of Fundamental Precept (ADPF), Jurisdiction preservation appeal (RCL), Proposal for binding summary ruling (PSV), Motion to vacate a judgment (AR), Writ of prevention (AC), Habeas Corpus (HC), Writ of security (MS), Writ of Injunction (MI), Suspension of provisional remedy (SL), Suspension of security (SS) e Suspension of anticipated judicial protection (STA).

The habeas corpus when filed on behalf of oneself or by whom is not a lawyer, public defender or attorney may be referred to the Supreme Court in the physical media, but are scanned before suing, for the procedure be conducted electronically.

One of the advantages of this system is that lawyers can petition where they are, without the need to move up to the Court or to the Federal District, reducing spending on transportation and accommodation. Moreover, as they are not limited to operating hours of the protocol of the Court, the petition may be sent up to the midnight of the given deadline.

This also represents a significant reduction in the flow of people in the units of the Court, which reduces waiting lists for those coming to the Supreme Court. The risk of incidents in the physical movement of documents also decreases, since the legal certainty afforded by the digital signature ensures the authenticity and integrity of documents. In other words, besides faster routing processes, this new reality also reduces expenses of the parties, lawyers and the Judiciary.

The e-STF system has been tested and approved on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, and is independent of the browser used. The maximum size of each part to be loaded into the system is 10 MBytes, and files are mandatory in PDF format.

The system development still will pass through other phases until the judicial proceedings be processed exclusively in electronic form, within and outside the Court. To do so, some steps need to be overcome: a) the electronic petitioning should be the only way to trigger the Supreme Court, b) the internal electronic processing, c) the procedural electronic communication and d) electronic completion. The idea is that in the future all stages of the proceeding occur exclusively in electronic form.

Meanwhile, efforts are focused on electronic petitioning, which requires that lawyers achieve a digital signature by the ICP-Brazil certifying entity and the accreditation in the Supreme Court page.

Lawyers who apply electronically may be assured about the safety in handling of cases. That's because digital certification ensures the confidentiality of documents and communications privacy of individuals and institutions. The certificate prevents tampering of the documents circulating on electronic media like the internet, and in practice amounts to a virtual ID card, ensuring that the proceeding is not violated in any way.

The proceeding type that overloads the most the Supreme Court is the Interlocutory Appeal (AI), which alone represents 60% of the volume of cases reaching the cabinets. This is why it was chosen for the next stage of electronic proceeding. The change will mean a saving of R$ 115.000 per year only on paper. Another R$ 48.000 will be saved with covers and labels; R$ 138.000, with labor, and R$ 151.000, with services of the Post Office.


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