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Meeting promoted by Justice Gilmar Mendes results in the creation of a mediation forum

Friday, September 21, 2012

Initiative of Minister Gilmar Mendes, from the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (STF), to gather Appellate Judges and representatives of the Office of the General Counsel to the Federal Government (AGU, in Portuguese)to discuss the possibility of reconciling federal conflicts eventually resulted in the establishment of a Permanent Forum on Federal Conflict Mediation. The group will survey and map conflicts among the states, make suggestions for consensual solutions and suggest referral to conflicts in which there is no possibility of conciliation, clarifying points of contention for judicial solutions.

This institutional environment focused on extrajudicial conflict resolution will be coordinated by the director of the Board of Conciliation and Arbitration of AGU and integrated by the Secretary-general of Litigation of AGU, the director of the Litigation Department of the Federal Attorney General (PGF) and the president and vice president of the Technical Board of the National College of Chief Appellate Judges of the States and the Federal District.

The result of this first meeting - attended by Appellate Judges only of states in the North and Midwest – exceeded the expectations expressed by Justice Gilmar Mendes at the moment of the invitation to participants. The original intention was to establish channels of dialogue in order to develop a culture of consensus in conflict resolution.

At the opening, Justice Mendes said that, when faced with the high number of federal conflicts existing in the Supreme Court, he had the impression "that we live in a federal republic triggered." The examination of cases, however, revealed that the majority of problems were possible of being rapdly decided, which could be resolved otherwise. "We're not talking about neutral things: these conflicts have consequencess in people's lives," he said.

From civil servants assignment to oil royalties

At the meeting, representatives of the Federal Government and of the states discussed various aspects of the many conflicts that currently involve federal entities. Some, as recalled Appellate Judge Jurandi Pinheiro - assistant judge to the office of Minister Gilmar Mendes with experience in conciliation projects in Rio Grande do Sul - deal with "simple things" as the payment of working days to a federal servant assigned for the State of Rio de Janeiro after his return to the Federal Government.

Much of the over 5,000 federal conflicts currently pending before the Supreme Court are questionings by states on their inclusion in the Informative List of Unpaid Debts of the Federal Public Sector (Cadin). The most complex  involve disputes over boundaries and oil royalties, among others.

One of the issues raised at the meeting was the lack of reliable data on the number of cases, the matter discussed and the decisions made by the courts in previous litigations. A preliminary survey made by AGU has demonstrated that the state with the highest number of conflicts is Rondônia, followed by Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo. In the first case, the high litigation rate is attributed to issues of demarcation of indigenous lands and in the second, to the oil royalties.

However, further analysis on litigants and the issues at stake is necessary to advance the search for solutions to reduce litigation and give more speed to the resolution of conflicts already referred to the Judiciary. This will be one of the main responsibilities of the Permanent Forum.

The invitation for the first meeting was restricted to appellate judges from states of the North and Midwest because the idea of Gilmar Mendes was to create an experience that could later be extended to other states. As the proposal has already evolved into a permanent communication, the National College of Chief Appellate Judges of the States and the Federal District undertook the responsibility of mobilizing the representatives of the states in other regions.


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