With Brazil-South Florida annual trade exceeding $13 billion and Brazilian visitors spending $1 billion annually in Miami, it’s really not all that surprising.
From exporting products, registering intellectual property or resolving business disputes, there’s been great interest in many areas of law that concern Brazil.
Increase in Disputes Between Parties Located in Brazil and U.S.
Also not surprising, with the surge of economic activity there’s also been a dramatic increase in the number of lawsuits filed between parties located both in the U.S. and Brazil.
Invariably, one party wants to serve the other party with legal documents located outside their jurisdiction. Whether a Brazilian is suing someone in the U.S. or the other way around, service of process issues can get complicated.
For purposes of this post, I’ll focus on the U.S side of service of process,that is, where a party has initiated litigation in the U.S. and seeks to serve a party in Brazil. For the Brazil side of things, look for an upcoming guest post in the near future.
Preparing the Documents
Pursuant to the Convention, a plaintiff makes a request for service by completing U.S. Marshall Form USM-272/272A. Note that USM-272-272A will suffice as the formal request for purposes of the Inter-American Convention’s Letters Rogatory form.
The request is made up of an original and two copies of the Forms, and three copies of the summons and complaint or other documents to be served.
All documents served with the Form USM 272/272A for service in Brazil must be translated into Portuguese.
Although USM 272/272A is not itself required to be translated into Portuguese, it’s good practice to do so for the convenience of the Brazilian authorities.
Also note that the Inter-American Service Convention requires that the Form bear the seal and signature of the clerk of the court from which the process issues, as well as the signature and stamp of the Central Authority of the state in which the court sits.
Once USM272/272A is prepared, and translated along with the accompanying documents, the next step is for the request to be sent by the court to the U.S. Central Authority (the U.S. Department of Justice).
The U.S. Central Authority will then forward the request (duly notarized and consularized by the Brazilian Consulate) to the Central Authority in Brazil, the Ministry of Justice.
From there, the request will be delivered to the Federal Supreme Court for exequatur, whereupon the plaintiff may submit it to the court for service upon the defendant.
Once served, the request is returned to the Federal Supreme Court and then returned to the court of origin by the reverse procedure.
How Long Does it Take?
Service of process pursuant to the Inter-American Convention upon defendants located in Brazil generally takes between six months and one year. However, by staying on top of the request (which requires more attention from the attorney, and thus, costs a bit more), it can get done in about six to eight months.
Be sure to factor in preparation time, getting the documents prepared to meet Brazil’s strict legalization and procedural requirements can take several months.
Follow the basic steps outlined above and you’ll be well on your way to effecting serving process Brazil.