In order to encourage the use of out-of-court mechanisms for dispute resolution, the Federal Judiciary Board (CJF) held the II Working Group for the Prevention and Out-of-Court Dispute Resolution in the second half of last year.

Among the 143 precedents approved, one should emphasize the recognition that social and environmental, collective, and complex disputes can and should be solved by more adequate methods than the usual state adjudication, as stated in two precedents:

  • Precedent 178: "It is recommended that studies and research be conducted, within the scope of the Judiciary, in partnership with universities and professionals with expertise in the environmental area, for the preparation of guidelines aimed at the use of appropriate methods of solving complex environmental disputes, without prejudice to any specialization of CEJUSCs in environmental matters."
  • Precedent 225: "The use of mediation is recommended for the resolution of social and environmental disputes, notably to make viable, in the manner set forth in article 3, paragraph 2, of the Mediation Law, access to justice and the satisfaction of waivable and unwaivable transactable rights, including preventive, repressive, and restorative measures for damages to the environment and the public."

This is a relevant position of the CJF. For those who work in the field, it is evident that judicial litigation alone is usually not enough to resolve disputes of this magnitude.

Going beyond the provisions of Precedent 225, we believes that it is not necessary to limit ourselves to mediation, which will not always be the ideal means. If the intention is to seek a more adequate method to resolve a dispute, there is no reason to stick to just one mechanism. It is possible to combine this with other mechanisms and guarantee a procedure that ensures access to justice, fundamental rights, and satisfaction of waivable and non-waivable transactable rights.

Reparation programs, a growing trend over the last few years in Brazil, are prepared from the design of a customized procedure for each specific case, through the combination of several mechanisms (mediation, conciliation, and negotiation, for example) as gears of a single system.

In addition to being able to quickly deliver repair that is better suited to the reality of those who have suffered damage, reparation programs increase the chances of maintaining business. They also distinguish themselves by involving the community and making it an active part of the reparation process, including the social component in the equation and taking the affected people out of the condition of mere spectators in the resolution of their disputes.

They are, in short, an organized, coordinated procedure focused on obtaining full reparation in an effective and expeditious manner. The amounts involved in the process are directed to the reparation itself, and not to expenses related to excessive judicialization and/or exacerbated bureaucracy. To this end, dialogue is sought with the most diverse of stakeholders, such as institutions of the Judiciary, those affected, companies, advisors, and regulatory agencies, among others. As they pursue the same result (full and expeditious reparation), all should seek a constructive solution, considering technical, legal, social, and economic issues.

The heavy rains that reached record levels in January and caused social and environmental damage, especially in the state of Minas Gerais, show that the dialogue between the various stakeholders is even more necessary. The guidance of the CJF, with its incentive for out-of-court resolution of complex environmental disputes, is extremely salutary and important, especially considering the State Dam Safety Policy (Pesb) instituted in 2021, which increased the demand for faster and more assertive responses to environmental crises.