Mexico City, April 2021.

On March 11, 2021, a Decree was published in the Federal Official Gazette that amended and amplified several provisions of the United Mexican States’ Political Constitution, related to the Federal Judiciary Power. Such decree seeks to strengthen the function of Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice and of the Courts, with the scope of achieving prompt and expeditious administration of justice, which is available to everyone.

A reform as important as this one involving amendments to the Political Constitution that modify the structure of the Federal Judicial Power and its attributions had not been made since 1994.

The approved amendments, effective as of March 12 of this year, are essentially the following:

  1. Unitary Circuit Courts will change their name to Composite Courts of Appeals and will be integrated by three Magistrates.
  2. The Circuit Plenary Courts will be replaced by Regional Plenary Courts with the purpose of expanding their jurisdiction by territory. A region will be formed by different circuits and Regional Plenary Courts will be empowered to resolve contradictions within their respective regions.
  3. The role of the Court as a Constitutional Court is strengthened, granting it a larger scope from a jurisdictional perspective.
  4. A new Precedents System that will be binding upon all jurisdictional bodies was established without having to be reiterated.
    The reasons asserting the decisions provided in judgments rendered by the Plenary of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, by a majority of eight votes and by the Chambers, by a majority of four votes, will be binding. [1]
  5. The application of the judicial career is expanded, gender equality is adopted as a principle, and the name of the “Instituto de la Judicatura Federal” (Federal Judiciary Institute) is changed to “Escuela Federal de Formación Judicial” (Federal Judicial Formation School).
    Administrative appeals against the appointment of Judges and Magistrates are eliminated.
  6. The power of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation to revoke the resolutions of the Federal Judiciary Council is terminated.
  7. The Federal Judiciary Council is empowered to appoint one or more jurisdictional bodies to hear cases related to serious violations of Human Rights or those that have a particularly relevant social impact.
  8. The Supreme Court of Justice will hear cases of direct violations of the Constitution and Human Rights and not matters of legality; consequently, direct Amparo (Constitutional Rights Protection) review proceedings will be limited to these issues.
    Appeals against the dismissal of direct Amparo review proceedings before the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation are eliminated.
  9. The jurisdictional body that resolved Amparo proceedings may enter substitutive enforcement (cumplimiento sustituto) of the judgment.

Additionally, it is important to mention that the approval of the Secondary Legislation is still pending; the Congress is required to approve within 180 days from the date of publication of the aforementioned amendment.

As we can see, the amendment entails several changes in the structure of the Federal Judicial Power, alongside issues regarding the handling of a jurisdiction over the cases.

Perhaps the most relevant change of the above stated is the Precedents System. Although the bases have not yet been completely established, the fact that the rulings issued by the Plenary of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation by majority vote will be binding, reduces the sometimes-lengthy process of making criteria binding and applicable to the rest of the cases.

Similarly, the fact that the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation will now only hear cases involving constitutionality and will no longer deal with issues of legality, is also in line with its own attributions as a Constitutional Court.

However, such principle should not imply restricting access to available recourses, which is apparently what happened with the elimination of the appeal of complaint previously available when the Court does not allow a direct Amparo appeal for review.

In an interpretation in light of Article 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights (Pact of San José), this could be seen as a restriction to judicial protection with an effective remedy, since a party cannot challenge a decision that denies a direct Amparo in review.

We would like to point out that in practice, when a direct Amparo in Review, even if it defends constitutionality issues and involves a transcendental matter – i.e, it complies with the requirements provided under the Amparo Law – is not allowed by the Court, it can only be processed until the challenge against dismissal is enforced through the appeal of complaint. Without this recourse, it seems impossible for a party to make any direct Amparo in Review reach the Court

Ultimately, we will have to wait for the transition of structure and amendments approved in the aforementioned reform and the publication of the secondary law, in order to be able to determine if they will actually mark the path towards a better administration of justice, as proposed by the Federal Judiciary Power and Congress

At Jáuregui y Del Valle we always favor a prompt and expeditious administration of justice for all our clients and stakeholders. We stay up to date on various legal areas in order to provide services with the highest standards of quality.

*This article is authored by Anayely Galindo and it may reflect their personal opinions independently from the law firm they work for. Shall you intend to apply any of the debated interpretations within the article, we highly recommend to formally consult Jáuregui y Del Valle, S.C. or any other qualified advisor.

© 2020, Jáuregui y Del Valle, S.C.(JDV), All rights reserved. This information belongs to JDV and external distribution should be authorized. Printing and sharing are allowed.

[1]Still not in force, pending issuance by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation of General Resolution as to how it will operate.