Believe it or not, the National Congress passed the new Brazilian antitrust law! I have always been very skeptical about when the new law would be voted and the readers know how many times I voiced my skepticism. Since I started to work with antitrust law in the 1990s, I have seen two other bills to be discarded.
The current bill began to be discussed in 2003 and it was said to be one of the government’s top priorities. As I Brazilian, I am familiar with idiosyncrasies of the rule-making process in my country, so I did not believe that a new antitrust law was actually a priority, especially when it is compared with the tax and budget legislation. The reader will be able to decide by itself whether 8 years are a priority or not. The optimists would look at the bright side: 8 years are not so bad if you take into account that the first Brazilian antitrust law was passed in 1962 after 15 years under analysis in the National Congress.
Within the next fortnight, President Dilma Roussef will decide whether there is any part which should be vetoed. As the bill was proposed by the government, it is unlikely that the vetoes will be substantial. As I anticipated in my previous post, the government managed to block two amendments made by the Senate: the reduction in the fines for cartels and disproportional rise in the filing thresholds are two of the amendments made by the Senate. If these amendments by the Senate had not been rebutted by the House of Representatives, it is very likely that Brazil would lose the leading role in the antitrust enforcement which it conquered in the last 5 years.
We are living exciting times in Brazil! The authorities are very enthusiastic about the perspectives, especially because more than 200 civil servants will be hired for the CADE. More importantly, the authorities open to accept suggestions in relation to the implementation of the new bill, which gives rise to a lot of opportunity for the civil society and the antitrust community to participate.
I will keep you posted about the next developments.