Lawsuits against federal regulatory agencies, from now on, may be filed in the plaintiff’s domicile, or where the act or fact that gave cause to the claimtook place or even where the disputed thing is located. Such was the sense of the decision of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) in the extraordinary appeal nº 627.709/DF. In that case, the jurisdiction of the 2º Federal Court of Passo Fundo/RS to judge a claim againsta decision of the Brazilian Antitrust Authority (CADE) was challenged.
The lawsuit was filed before the 2º Federal Court of Passo Fundo/RS by one of the companies condemned by the CADE in the case of the “Security Companies Cartel” in 2007 for defrauding biddings procedures in the State of Rio Grande do Sul. The Brazilian Antitrust Authority pleaded the lack of jurisdiction of the Federal Courts of Rio Grande do Sul to preside over the case arguing that its decisions should be challenged on the head office’s venue, namely, the Federal Courts in Brasília.
In the occasion STF aroused the following arguments:
The 2º Federal Court of Passo Fundo decided to hold jurisdiction over the claimagainst theCADE’s administrative sanction in prejudice of the Courts of the Federal District (DF), inasmuch as the venue where to file the claim would be at the plaintiff’s choice, in the exact terms of article 109, § 2º, of the Constitution. It was understood as irrelevant the argument that CADE does not have a branch in Rio Grande do Sul, given the obligation of granting identical treatment to the regulatory agencies as the one given to the Federal Union.
STF’s decision was an extensive interpretation of article 109, paragraph 2, of the Constitution and, according to the reporting Minister Ricardo Lewandowski, “the setting criterion to define the jurisdiction by article 109, paragraph 2, of theMagna Carta, (…) was not conceived to benefit the Federal Union, but to give advantage to the other party of the claim, by having the capacity of choosing the easiest place to file the lawsuit”.
It is important to point out that the Court recognized the existence of general repercussion of the discussed matter. This decision will guide futuretrials of identical casespending of judgment.
Filipe Ribeiro Duarte – member of the Administrative Law team