In considering the use of the application WhatsApp for procedural summons as valid, the National Justice Council (CNJ) has set an important precedent for using this tool for communication in all courts in Brazil. The decision was reached in the judgment of an Administrative Control Procedure filed against Ordinance No. 01/2015, adopted by the Special Civil and Criminal Court of the District of Piracanjuba (GO).
According to the ordinance, WhatsApp may be used for procedural summons, subpoenas, and other communications in an optional manner by the Court, when the parties voluntarily adhere to the terms established. In addition, for the summons to be valid, it is also necessary that the receipt of the message be confirmed on the same day that it is sent. If this does not occur, the summons must be served in the conventional manner (postal service or process server).
In its decision, the CNJ understood that procedural communications via WhatsApp are in accordance with article 19 of Law No. 9,999/1995, which stipulated that notices, subpoenas, and summons shall be served in the manner provided for in them, or by any other suitable means of communication.
The CNJ also relied on Law No. 11,419/2006, which provides for the computerization of judicial process and, in the opinion of the council, has made technological innovation an important ally of the Judiciary.
Based on the guarantee of procedural speed and efficiency, the decision represents an incentive for procedural communication via electronic application to be adopted by all courts in Brazil. Considering the principles governing labor procedure, especially the principles of speed, simplicity of forms, and procedural economy, the application of this measure by the regional courts of labor appeals will certainly be well received. It is worth remembering that labor procedure substantially resembles the procedure of courts with special subject-matter jurisdiction, mainly due to its focus on simplicity and informality.
Accompanying this technological advance, the 5th Labor Court of São Bernardo do Campo (SP) held, in May of this year, attempts at settlement via WhatsApp. The physical hearing only occurred in order to ratify the settlement agreement entered into in the electronic application.
Before this, a labor judge on the Labor Court of Plácido de Castro, in the State of Acre, had already opted to use of WhatsApp in summoning the parties, alleging reduction in deadlines and costs in resolving cases.
The same was done by a judge on the Labor Court of Tucuruí, in the State of Pará, who after several attempts at service of process, contacts by email, and even by telephone, used WhatsApp to serve the respondent and finally got the company to respond to the claim.
These examples demonstrate how technology can contribute to improvement in the Brazilian Judiciary. It is certain that the use of WhatsApp in communications between the parties and the Court in the course of judicial proceedings is coming to be a constant, legal, and effective practice in the near future.