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Access to Environmental Justice in Brazil


Mariana Passos Freitas

Court Clerk, Federal Justice, Curitiba, Brasil, BR
About Mariana
Doc. in Environmental Law
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Abstract: This article aims to show how the equal access to environmental justice occurs in Brazil, even with litigants in inequality, with discrimination on the environmental matter, problems with interpretation of the law and few jurisprudence and information. The increase in the access to justice in Brazil is evident, including the environmental area. As access to justice, we must understand the two basic purposes of the legal system: that the system has to be equally accessible to everybody and that it produces individual and socially fair results, not just the simplistic conceptualization of the number of lawsuits. True access to justice is achieved once the rights of the population are effectively guaranteed. The amount of environmental lawsuits has been increasing each year, mainly after the Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988, considering that article 225 provided the need for an ecologically balanced environment for present and future generations, besides determining that the government and the community have the duty to preserve it. In addition, the problems are not being adequately resolved at the administrative level. Access to environmental justice should be understood as access to the law, a fair, well-known and effective legal order, with access to the courts, to alternative mechanisms (especially preventive ones) and the population materially and psychologically conscious to exercise their rights, by overcoming objective and subjective barriers. For this access, appropriate procedural instruments are necessary to the collective conflicts and the environmental protection, in order to facilitate the protection of the environment in courts, and to overcome barriers to the access to justice in this matter. In Brazil, some procedural instruments have come as a way to guarantee access to environmental justice. They are, mainly: “popular action” and “public civil action”. Both have a specific provision for admission with actions of this nature and it is important to highlight that they aim to protect mainly the collective rights and have been widely used in Brazil, facilitating citizens' actions. Also, they break some barriers that hindered access to environmental justice, providing for non-condemnation in fees, non-payment of costs, payment of expertise only at the end, by the losing party, etc. Thus, this article seeks to demonstrate how access to environmental justice in Brazil has grown, not yet being the ideal, but indicating how this situation can be reached. Some ways of increasing this access are pointed out, not only focusing on the number of lawsuits, but also as a way of developing environmental law, in search of the desired effectiveness.
How to Cite: Freitas, M.P., 2017. Access to Environmental Justice in Brazil. International Journal for Court Administration, 8(3), pp.1–6. DOI:
Published on 04 Jul 2017.


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