17 Apr



In Portugal, there is simply no history of preventive law, not least because this is an instrument that has only recently begun to be studied and systematized.

Preventive Law is not to be confused with proximity Justice, but with some traditions in our country, which are now being recovered with the resurgence of Peace Judges – with a profile, however, markedly different from the Peace Judges of old – as if you know, the Judges of Peace came up with the 1826 Portuguese constitutional charter, marked the proximity justice for about 100 years, and were later abandoned by the Estado Novo, to resurface very recently, with Law 78/2001, of 13 August .

You can read, from time to time, some brief interventions on the topic, some interesting, others giving the clear idea that its author does not even know what Preventive Law is, which is often confused with ( or reduced to) alternative means of conflict resolution, arbitration or mediation, when these moments, although being an integral part (further ahead) of the prevention process, seen very broadly, do not fail to mean that the phases previous ones have not been summoned – and, if they sometimes cannot be, due to the nature of the “problem”, most of the times they can, and are not; or they were, and they failed.

The “recently” we mentioned in the first paragraph of this point is not Portuguese. Portugal can only have one “not yet”. The “recently” is from the United States, and will be about fifty years old, thanks to the work and grace of the one who is considered there as the “father of Preventive Law”: Louis M. Brown.

And if you are a father there, you are a father here, because in these more creative dimensions of law, the United States is kings and lords. In Europe, the science of law is dense, complex and somewhat gray, even in Anglo-Saxon systems.

Mr. Brown left his trail in this area for future generations, who are only now beginning to “wake up” to her, even where reflections and studies have gone further. In any case, the “Preventive Law program” was created in his image at the “California Western School of Law”.

Louis Brown (1909-1996) founded and was president of the National Center for Preventive Law at the University of Denver, and his work in this field goes back to the 1950s. He was a lawyer and university professor, and authored and co-authored 10 books, and more than 150 scientific articles on Preventive Law.

Professor Brown’s program, just over five years ago, was practically the only reference in American Preventive Law, and even worldwide.

Recently, however, there has been a considerable evolution, including in the terminology associated with Preventive Law.

We can only mention it as a curiosity, since detailing it and explaining it would mean walking the cart far ahead of the horse (if we are just beginning to get used to the expression “Preventive Law”): “Multidimensional lawyer” , “Prevention Designer”, “Youth Peer Courts”, Creative problem solving ”,“ Therapeutic Jurisprudence ”, etc., etc.

The rest of the world has the privilege of being able to observe the path taken by the pioneers, bypassing some of their mistakes.

We have already seen it written that one of the main mistakes of the pioneers of Preventive Law was the inadequacy of their theories to the social fabric of the time in which they appeared, proving the fact that it took more than fifty years to reach the center of the debate, but we, in all our insignificance, we must disagree.

As we will see below, Preventive Law is natural to man, and it was his primacy that created and developed the vertical system of Reactive Law that we use today, clearly in crisis for tens, if not hundreds of years, and which no longer responds to the “basic need” of man’s justice.

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