Born in São Paulo, son of a dentist and a devoted mother, the second of four brothers was always a good student; I liked to study and had a passion for books. Sensitive to the importance of education, he recognized the dedication of his parents to keeping their children in good schools and always made an effort to maintain his scholarship. Graduated in Laws at USP – University of São Paulo, he was an active student at Largo São Francisco. Upon graduating, he opted for a
public career and, in 1988, was approved in first place in the competition for the Public Ministry, assuming the position of Public Prosecutor in the city of São Paulo. From there he discovered his life mission: to work for society. This sparked another passion, politics. Elected for the first time in 2006 as State Deputy for São Paulo, he had two more terms in 2010 and 2014, being president of the State Legislative Assembly during the 2015/2017 biennium. With a solid career in defense of the citizen and the laws, in 2019 he assumed the position of Executive Director of Procon-SP. Married to another prosecutor, Valéria Capez, he is the father of two daughters Maria Fernanda (21) and Maria Eduarda (19). In addition to family time, he uses his walks to reflect; the passion for books continues to this day with the reading and publication of several works in the academic world. Get to know a little more of a jurist who dedicates his life to the defense of consumers and society.
The Winners – What were your main challenges when you were chosen to lead Procon-SP Foundation, known for being one of the oldest institutions to act in consumer protection?
Fernando Capez – It was necessary to adjust a solid and reliable entity to the facilities and progress of the 21st century. The first decision was to completely computerize Procon; we chose to create a remote access, where the consumer could complain from home or from within the establishment itself, at the same time that he suffered the abuse, the
disrespect for his rights. Thus, the electronic complaint by cell phone was born. From this computerization there was a significant speeding up of the processes and the demand of the population for the services of Procon was growing. The method proved to be essential at a time of growth in online shopping and social distancing measures due to covid-19.
TW – Whether as a politician, teacher or member of the Public Ministry, we noticed a very striking trait in your professional performance, which is dynamism and the ability to undertake, how did these characteristics help in your work as director of Procon-SP?
FC – Look, I have hyperactivity, some say it’s a defect and others say it’s a quality, I think that when dosed in the right intensity it’s quality, for me it’s a virtue. I can do several things at the same time, and this is very good, because an intense mind is always working and producing new things, it was in this way that we expanded the reach of Procon-SP to the population. Today I find myself involved with causes, such as animal defense, defense of women’s rights, the fight against racism and other topics that were born from my search for information and improvement. As a jurist and professor, I have this mission to continue studying and delving into the issues that impact our society.
TW – Procon-SP is well known for serving and helping consumers who are in trouble, but another front of your work is the inspection of companies and the application of sanctions when there is disrespect for the laws, as is this relationship of the institution with companies?
FC – The function of Procon is to watch over the consumer, considered the most vulnerable part, but when a supplier disrespects the legislation, he receives a sanction, a fine, which are provided for by the Consumer Defense Code. It must be said, that we maintain a channel of dialogue with companies and a transparent relationship. By doing so, we earn the respect of large corporations that know that decisions are fair and technical, taken with balance and common sense. Our set of actions shows an active and transparent institution in many aspects, which defends the consumer, but is concerned with compliance with legislation.
TW – After taking over the direction, Procon returned to be present in the media, people talk more about the institution. To what do you credit this change? Was there an effort in this direction?
FC – Procon sought to strengthen its performance in the area of communication with a dynamic management closer to the press. We do not want to avoid the press; we want openness for it to come and analyze the facts and confirm the quality of the work we develop. The press is an ally and does a wonderful job. Therefore, we have this responsibility: we open up space, at the same time we seek balance so that we never make someone else’s misfortune a pedestal for anyone’s vanity. In addition, we increased our social networks, created our Instagram account increasing the number of followers. In three years, we went from 275,927 thousand followers on Procon-SP’s social networks to 395,692 thousand followers, an increase of 43.40%. This set of actions and the support of the press collaborated to give more legitimacy to the work, publicizing and highlighting the actions. The population rediscovered Procon, seeing that access is easy, that the response is immediate, that the service is free and the results appear.
TW – It is impossible to talk about the future without thinking about digital transformation. A major societal change in the last two years has been the acceleration of e-commerces. From a legal point of view, what is the impact on the economy and how do you see this path in the coming years?
FC – The arrival of digital commerce, the socalled e-commerce, represented a great advance for the consumer and for society. It is possible to search and compare prices without wear and tear or waste of time, making the purchase with peace of mind. The product tends to arrive without problems, delays, etc. Nevertheless, it is necessary to be attentive to
problems related to digital crimes and Procon has guided the consumer a lot in this sense, to the care that must be taken when using this environment. In addition, many digital platforms have not organized their logistics centers and delay
delivery, deliver a product different from what was purchased or damaged, without the customer service services being prepared to solve the demands. If, on the one hand, there are benefits and advances, there is a need to monitor this new scenario. Today digital platforms, alongside sectors such as health plans, are one of our main focuses of attention.
TW – One of your great banners is the defense and respect for human capital, people and the Democratic Rule of Law. For the jurist behind the position, is it a life mission to defend this flag at Procon-SP?
FC – I’m proactive, I like to act. I don’t like to be just behind the chair, although it’s also my activity, but I always try to do something else. The great goal and difficulty of a public servant is to expand the limit of what is possible, to do beyond the obvious and expected. It is necessary to attend to that person who knocks on the doors of the public power, the correct referral of his question must be a priority. Seeking to act and help others is fundamental. This is how I work. At Procon-SP, during my tenure, we managed to reduce the time taken to resolve consumer complaints from 47 to 8 days. Of every 100 requests that reach our service, 81 are resolved.
TW – In recent years the Brazilian Judiciary has received more attention and people have more access to laws and legal developments. How do you see this moment for the country’s democracy?
FC – There is often talk of activism by the Judiciary, but the truth is that legislative transformation processes are very slow and bureaucratic, there is a set of contrasting forces in Parliament that hinder the necessary agility. The National Congress has recently acted more quickly, which is important. But when fundamental issues are neglected by the legislature, the Constitution provides the Judiciary with mechanisms to fill these gaps, enforcing functional principles. What we need is to find a balance between the powers to meet what the Constitution determines and the needs
of our society. We need to understand that the population chooses the executive and the legislature, but that is not the case with the judiciary. The investiture and performance of a judge is technical, he must remember that he is not responsible for the command of public administration and it is not up to issue legislative commands.
TW – You were recently honored in the Personality of the Year award in the Consumer Protection and Environmental Awareness category. What does this tribute represent to you and how can you turn this title into a legacy?
FC – This recognition is not mine, it belongs to the entire Procon-SP team, the permanent servers and my advisors who work incessantly so that each project and action is carried out in an impactful way and serving the purpose of the
Foundation. That’s what made the difference. I was fortunate to be in the leadership of this great institution, but the award is not just mine, it belongs to the entire Procon Foundation of São Paulo.