Publicado em 04/05/2020

Covid-19 | Brazilian Supreme Court suspends injunction that prevented power cut to companies in default

Judge Dias Toffoli, of the Brazilian Supreme Court (STF), suspended a decision of the Presidency of the Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice (TJRJ), which had ordered Light (energy distribution company) to refrain from cutting off the power of companies in default because he considered that the TJRJ had gone beyond  its jurisdiction.

In March this year, State Law No. 8.769/20 was sanctioned in the State of Rio de Janeiro, to prohibit power cuts, water and natural gas to any consumer. However, Light continued to cut off the power supply.

For this reason, the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro (Alerj), by means of its Consumer Defense Commission, filed a lawsuit in which it obtained an injunction ordering the Light to suspend the aforementioned power cuts. The Reporting Judge of Light’s appeals to the TJRJ stayed the effects of the Lower Court’s decision. Alerj then requested the Presidency of the TJRJ to overturn the Reporting Judge’s decision.

The Presidency of the TJRJ suspended the Reporting Judge’s decision, thereby confirming the constitutionality of said State Law.  Light appealed to the STF on the grounds that the Presidency of the TJRJ, by considering the matter, had gone beyond its jurisdiction.

When considering Light’s appeal, STF Judge Dias Toffoli held that, in fact, “the decision rendered by the Presidency of the TJRJ has effectively interfered with the jurisdiction of this Supreme Court“, by deciding controversy over the legislative competence of the Union and Member States.

For this reason, Light is temporarily authorized to proceed with the power cuts in case of defaults even during the pandemic.

The full text of decision can be viewed here.