On 9 April 2014, Brazil became the 58th member of the Hague Evidence Convention: an agreement for international cooperation which aims at facilitating the transmission and performance of rogatory letters so as to obtain more efficient international judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters.
Although the accession of the country is considered as late – the Convention is dated 18 March 1970 – it is also considered a breakthrough given that in dismissing the diplomatic route it provides greater efficiency and effectiveness to the proceedings that depend on obtaining evidence in other countries — helping to expedite the procedural motion.
The text of the Convention simplifies the process for the production of international evidence in court proceedings in the areas of civil and commercial law, dismissing the intervention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This allows the judge to dispatches rogatory letters directly to the Department of Assets Recovery and International Legal Cooperation of the National Secretariat of Justice of Brazil – DRCI / SNJ, responsible for centralising requests for legal aid. It also allows the hearing of witnesses by consular or diplomatic agents, provided that there is no duress to testify.
The text also provides reciprocity between the signatories enabling the requests of 57 foreign countries to be attended by Brazil with greater efficiency.
Among the other justifications for the accession of the country, the main reasons are the growth of Brazilian communities abroad as well as the refusal of many States to negotiate bilateral agreements on the subject as they prefer the use of this multilateral instrument.
It is noteworthy that the accession does not prevent the conclusion of bilateral agreements between countries concerned regulating the procedures for the taking of evidence provided that such case is more beneficial to the parties.
According to information disclosed by the Ministry of Justice, the accession to the Convention took place during the Annual Meeting of the General Affairs Council in the Hague — held in early April in the city of the Hague in the Netherlands — and comes from a joint effort of the Ministries of Justice and of Foreign Affairs which have worked together promoting the study of the text, its translation and sending for the Congress’ approval.
The text of the Hague Evidence Convention had already been approved by the Brazilian Congress through the Legislative Decree 137/2013 and will carry on for the sanction of President Dilma Rousseff.