Reaching Out to the Needy? Access to Justice and Public Attorneys’ Role in Right to Health Litigation in the City of São Paulo

SUR International Journal on Human Rights, v. 10, n. 18, Jun. 2013

King's College London Law School Research Paper No. 2014-34

33 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2014 Last revised: 22 Sep 2014

See all articles by Daniel Wang

Daniel Wang

University of London - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Octavio Luiz Motta Ferraz

King's College London – The Dickson Poon School of Law

Date Written: February 1, 2013

Abstract

Right to health litigation in Brazil raises a debate regarding its distributive effects in a resource-constrained setting. Several studies have found that a significant proportion of litigation features individual claimants who live in the most affluent states, cities and districts of Brazil and are usually represented by private lawyers, whose fees are beyond the reach of most of the poor population. For some, this is an indication that the distributive effects of litigation are very likely negative because litigation tends to benefit a privileged socio-economic group and may force health authorities to divert to them resources from comprehensive health programs that benefit the majority of the population. Others, however, argue that courts can nonetheless provide an important institutional voice for the poor and promote health equity when they manage to access them. The main problem for this "pro-litigation camp" is thus to enhance access to Justice. Our aim is to analyze lawsuits in which litigants are represented by public attorneys in right to health litigation in the city of São Paulo to inquire if at least this type of litigation is reaching out to the neediest citizens. This study analyzes three indicators: the income of litigants, the Human Development Index and the Health Need Index of the areas where they live. Our conclusion is that although public attorneys seem to represent mostly low income people, other indicators suggest that there are still important obstacles for public attorneys to reach the neediest.

Keywords: Right to health, Access to justice, Public attorneys, Poverty, Brazil

Suggested Citation

Wang, Daniel and Ferraz, Octavio Luiz Motta, Reaching Out to the Needy? Access to Justice and Public Attorneys’ Role in Right to Health Litigation in the City of São Paulo (February 1, 2013). SUR International Journal on Human Rights, v. 10, n. 18, Jun. 2013; King's College London Law School Research Paper No. 2014-34. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2401199 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2401199

Daniel Wang (Contact Author)

University of London - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences ( email )

Mile End Road
London, E1 4NS
United Kingdom

Octavio Luiz Motta Ferraz

King's College London – The Dickson Poon School of Law ( email )

Somerset House East Wing
Strand
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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