Technological advancement could open up new paths in Consumer Law
The Brazilian government has started looking into solutions like ODR (Online Dispute Resolution), Mediation and Arbitration in order to weed out the massive number of consumer law cases making their way into the justice system every day. This subject was featured during the event ODR – Online dispute resolution methods and ADR in Consumer Law, held at FGV’s Sao Paulo Law School (Direito SP) on February 11 and 12.
According to Luciano Benetti Timm, professor of Direito SP’s Professional Master’s program and secretary of the National Consumer Secretariat of the Brazilian Ministry of Justice, before we can start using out-of-court solutions for consumer law disputes, we still have to overcome Brazilians’ lack of trust in resolutions reached outside of the judicial system.
However, both public authorities and corporations have been taking steps to turn this around. A good example of the use of alternative dispute resolution methods is the consumidor.gov.br platform, monitored by the National Consumer Secretariat, the Ministry of Justice, consumer protection agencies (PROCONs), public defenders, public ministries and society in general, which is used to settle consumer disputes within 7 days.
“This solution brings transparency to the enforcement of consumer rights, besides generating strategic information to manage public policies on consumer protection and empowering consumers in consumer relations”, said Timm.
In the private sector, Argentinean group Mercado Livre, which has been operating in the product sales, advertising, fintech and online logistics segments for the past 20 years, created its own online dispute resolution platform.
According to Ana Luiza Nery, an expert on the subject, the recent collective arbitration applied to Petrobras investors could set a precedent to also apply meta-individual dispute resolutions to consumer law disputes.
“Despite the cultural barrier, Brazilian law allows applying collective dispute resolution rules to consumer rights, through the Civil Class Action Law, which already allows the use of Terms of Adjustment of Conduct (TAC) in class actions and other proceedings within the Child and Adolescent Statute, Consumer Bill of Rights, Antitrust Law and environmental laws. On the other hand, there are no constitutional restraints preventing these methods from being used”.
Representatives from Latam, the Sao Paulo Court of Justice and Justto also participated in the debate and presented their cases.