Lira and Pacheco could accelerate or delay approval of the new Civil Code

Lira and Pacheco could accelerate or delay approval of the new Civil Code


It will be up to the presidents of the Federal Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), and the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), to dictate the pace of processing the new Civil Code. In the Chamber of Deputies, the internal regulations provide even more loopholes for Lira to speed up or slow down the process. The final document that will guide the draft is still under discussion by the team of jurists convened by Pacheco, but the text released at the end of February contains controversial points such as favoring abortion, the possibility of unilateral divorce, recognition of legal protection for pets, risks of trivialization of surrogacy, among others. Amendments were presented, but they do not resolve the ideological problems present in the report. Social participation is also another factor that can influence the progress of the future bill.

The suggestions for the new Civil Code, including the 199 amendments presented, must be analyzed in a short period of time: the Commission of Jurists has, since Monday, been in a concentrated effort to reach a consensus on a final text that must be presented in the coming weeks. As it is the Civil Code, a law that covers the details of private law, especially when dealing with everyday issues and family dynamics, federal senators and deputies need to hold an in-depth debate. The tendency is for parliamentarians to discuss various points specifically with the aim of improving the text.

“In Brazil, at the moment we live in today, basic concepts are much discussed. So, when discussing family, for example, each person will present their own vision. It is common to enter into controversial issues that take time to reach consensus”, says Victor Mendes, a lawyer specializing in the legislative process.

Ideological discussions enhance society’s involvement

Although presidents dictate the pace, a political composition favorable to the text is still necessary to reach approval. The latest changes to law codes, such as the Civil Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, were processed more quickly in the Federal Senate when compared to the Chamber of Deputies. The number of federal deputies (513) is six times greater than the number of senators (81) and this is one of the factors that makes processing in the Chamber difficult.

A proposal to reform the Criminal Procedure Code, presented in 2009, has not made any considerable progress since it reached the Chamber of Deputies in 2010. “It was a discussion that when it came to the parliamentarians’ debate, a minimum consensus was not reached for move forward”, assesses Mendes. The latest version of the Civil Code took almost three decades to be approved. The text was presented in 1975 and the sanction only took place in 2002.

For the expert, another point that has a lot of influence during the process is the participation of society. Citizen involvement is further enhanced when there is a discussion of ideological issues such as those found in the report released in February. “I’m not saying that it’s impossible for the text to pass and for part of society to disagree with it. We repeatedly see people protesting against approved texts. But, it seems that there will be enough time for discussion and citizen involvement”, he analyzes.

At the beginning of the legislative year, Pacheco stated that the revision of the Civil Code will be the House’s priority agenda in 2024. The speech corroborates the idea that, in the Federal Senate, the process can be carried out hastily.

Pacheco should not make changes to the report delivered by the Jurists Commission

The discussion is still in a pre-legislative process. Only after the Commission of Jurists, installed by Rodrigo Pacheco, presents the draft to the presidency of the Federal Senate, should a bill be filed and political discussion officially begin.

Flávio Tartuce, one of the draft rapporteurs, stated during a lecture that “much of what we are proposing will not be adopted as a bill. President Pacheco can propose 20%, 30% or 40% of what we suggest”.

Mendes assesses that, despite the possibility of presenting the text partially, Pacheco should not do so. “It would be a little disgraceful to jurists if you didn’t even put the text into process. Most likely, based on the practice they usually have, they should sign the text as presented by the Committee of Jurists, so that it can be processed and evaluated by all parliamentarians”, he adds.

Civil Code reform only requires a simple majority for approval

The expert highlights that one of the strategies that could be adopted by Pacheco would be to present the draft in bills separated by topic. “They can, once the proposal has been processed, divide the text into parts so that there is a bill just for digital law, another for family law, another for articles related to personality, etc. This is another possibility. This way, themes that garner greater political support would advance,” he suggests.

The Senate must develop and publish a schedule for approval of the bill. The proposal goes through a Special Committee that must still be installed, as well as the selection of members. It then goes to the plenary, where it will only need a simple majority (50%+1) in one round to be approved. Subsequently, the text will be sent to the Chamber of Deputies. There, it must have a similar procedure – being analyzed by a Special Committee and by the plenary in the same format.

“If the Chamber changes this proposition, it returns to the Senate, and the Senate will have to deliberate on it again. And this happened in all code processes with substantial changes that we have had lately”, he projects.


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