Private Antitrust Enforcement in Brazil: New Perspectives and Interplay with Leniency

Ana Paula Martinez, Mariana Tavares de Araujo, Apr 16, 2013

Private antitrust enforcement in Brazil has been on the rise over the past five years. This may be due to such reasons as the global trend of antitrust authorities encouraging damage litigation by potential injured parties; the growing number of infringement decisions issued by Brazil’s antitrust agency, CADE; and the increasing general awareness of competition law in Brazil.

Pursuant to Article 47 of Brazil’s Antitrust Law, victims of anticompetitive conduct may recover the losses they sustained as a result of a violation, apart from an order to cease the illegal conduct. A general provision in the Brazil Civil Code also establishes that any party who causes losses to third parties shall indemnify those that suffer injuries (Article 927). Plaintiffs may seek compensation of pecuniary damages (actual damages and lost earnings) and moral damages. Under recent case law, companies are also entitled to compensation for moral damages, usually derived from losses related to its reputation in the market.

Apart from complaints based on contracts, a significant percentage of private actions are based on horizontal conduct in Brazil. Similarly to other jurisdictions, both corporations and individuals may be sued individually ( competitors, suppliers, and direct or indirect purchasers) or collectively for antitrust violations, but the greatest majority of pending cases are against corporations. Please note that pass-on defense is not applicable to misconduct against consumers; for other cases, there have been no statutory provisions or case law issued to date.

Individual lawsuits are governed by the general rules set forth in the Brazilian Civil Procedure Code. Collective actions are regulated by different statutes that comprise the country’s collective redress system. Standing to file suits aiming at the protection of collective rights is relatively restricted, and only governmental and publicly held entities are allowed to file. State and Federal Prosecutors’ Offices have been responsible for the majority of civil suits seeking collective redress, most of which have been related to consumers’ rights complaints.

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