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U.S. / Brazil Comparative Environmental Law: Overview

This guide will assist you in finding Brazilian Environmental Law through foreign law research guides; linking to sources of Brazilian law; and locating secondary sources, publishing resources, and translation tools.


The official language of Brazil is Portuguese. All government websites provide information in Portuguese. Some websites do have the option of changing to a different language, including English. There seems to be a push to have greater translation of websites into languages other than Portuguese, including English and Spanish. However, this process is slow and not necessarily complete across all websites. For instance, the Supremo Tribunal Federal has some information available in English, including English summaries of some of the cases that have been decided by the court. However, not all decisions have been translated in full, and not all of the information available on the Portuguese version of the website is available in the English translation version. The Senado Federal is also working on providing an English version of its website, but it is not complete.

Therefore, if you do not read Portuguese, you will need to rely on some of the free translation services available online and noted in this guide to try and understand the law in Brazil. In this research guide, the availability of materials in English is noted in the descriptions provided. Some materials, like treaties and agreements through the UN are often available in multiple languages, including English since English is one of the official languages of that institution.

Brazil is a civil law country and not a common law country like the United States. In a civil law country, there is much less of an emphasis on precedent than there is in common law countries. Civil law places the emphasis on the codification of the law. The codification of the law is continually updated since so much emphasis is placed on it. It is important to keep this in mind when you perform your research into Brazilian environmental law. 

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Deborah L. Heller
Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University
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