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Features - An Overview of the Legal System of the Republic of Moldova

By Svetlana Andritchi and Mariana Harjevschi, Published on August 15, 2002

Mariana Harjevschi is the director of the Public Law Library (http://www.pll.md) from Chisinau, a branch of the Municipal Library "B.P.Hasdeu" (http://www.hasdeu.md) financed by Soros-Moldova Foundation (http://www.soros.md) and COLPI (http://www.osi.hu/colpi). She holds a Master's in Library Science and Information Assistance and a Master's in Journalism from Moldova State University (http://www.usm.md). She is an assistant lecturer at the Faculty of Library and Information Assistance (http://www.iatp.md/library_spip) and a trainer at the Training Centre - Librarianship School of Moldova (http://www.sbm.dnt.md/).

Svetlana Andritchi is the Chief of the Digital Information Department of the Public Law Library (http://www.pll.md) from Chisinau. She holds a Master's in Library Science and Information Assistance from Moldova State University (http://www.usm.md).

Both of them attended the Constitutional and Legal Policy Institute in Budapest (http://www.osi.hu/colpi/indexn4.htm) and "Training the Law Librarian" courses in Budapest, Moscow, and Riga.



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Introduction

The Republic of Moldova (www.moldova.md) is a sovereign, independent state, situated in southeastern Europe between Romania and Ukraine. The form of government of the State is the republic. Governed by the role of law, the Republic of Moldova is a democratic state in which the dignity of people, their rights and freedoms, the open development of human personality, justice and political pluralism represent supreme values, that shall be guaranteed (Constitution Art. 1).

Moldova gained its independence (http://memory.loc.gov/frd/cs/moldova/md_appnd.html) from the Soviet Union on the 27th of August, 1991 and is undertaking a serious program of economic, social and political reforms to secure its future (http://www.ifes.md/moldova). It is recognized by more than 170 countries worldwide and is a member of the United Nations (since March 2, 1992, http://www.un.md) and the Council of Europe (admitted on July 13 1995). In 1994, the Republic of Moldova joined the Partnership for Peace program of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

In 1994, it adopted a Constitution (http://www.parlament.md/law/constitution) that provides for a multiparty representative government with power divided among a president, cabinet, parliament, and judiciary.

Regions, such as the South of Moldova (Gagauz-Eri) and Transnistria (territory on the left bank of the Dniester River) (see http://www.iatp.md/transnistria/en/default.asp) and (http://www.tiraspol.net/cities.asp) have been granted autonomy.

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The Background of Moldovan Legal System

The legal system of the Republic of Moldova represents a overlapping of the Soviet and Continental legal systems. This is explained on the one hand by the tergiversation of Moldovan legal reform, and on the other hand the Constitution and other normative legal acts are reflective of the the content of the continental legal system. Thus the legal system of the Republic of Moldova was shaped and developed within the framework of the Soviet law.

From 1994, when the Constitution was approved, and until the 5th of July 2002, the Republic of Moldova was a semi-presidential country, after it became a parliamentary republic and the president is elected by a 3/5 votes of the members from parliament.

Today the legal system from Moldova is on undergoing deep process of change. On the June 6, 2002 the country adopted the new version of the Civil Code (see www.docs.md).

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Constitution

The Constitution of the Republic of Moldova is the supreme law of the country. No laws or other legal acts and regulations in contradiction with the provisions of the Constitution may have any legal power.

The new Constitution of Moldova, passed by the National Parliament on July 29, 1994, defines Moldova as a sovereign, neutral and democratic country (http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de/law/r100000_.html).

A current Moldavian Constitution (Adopted on July 12, 2001) can be found at http://www.parlament.md/law/constitution and an English version at http://www.ifes.md/constitution or http://www.urich.edu/~jpjones/confinder/moldova3.htm.

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Constitutional Court

The Constitutional Court (http://www.ccrm.rol.md/index_en.html, established up in 1995) is the sole authority of constitutional judicature in the Republic of Moldova. The Constitutional Court does not represent a branch in the hierarchy of the legal institutions of the State. It is a unique constitutional judicial body, autonomous and independent from the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

The goal of the Constitutional Court is to guarantee the supremacy of the Constitution, to ensure the principle of separation of State powers into the legislative, executive and judicial branches, to guarantee the observance of the State's responsibility towards the citizen and the citizen's responsibility towards the State. The Constitutional Court guarantees the supremacy of the Constitution, enforces the practical implementation of the principle residing the separation of the State powers into the legislative, executive and judicial powers, and guarantees the responsibility of State towards the citizen, and also of the citizen towards the state.

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President

The chief of State is the President of Republic of Moldova who guarantees sovereignty, national independence, territorial unity and integrity of the country. The president of the Republic of Moldova shall be elected by the secret vote of the Parliament for a four-year term. http://www.moldova.md/en/president/index.html

The president conducts negotiations and concludes international treaties on behalf of the Republic of Moldova; accredits official representatives of Moldova in other countries or winds up their activity; decrees a diplomatic mission abroad or modifies its statute; declares state of emergency in case of an invasion etc.

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The Structure of Moldovan State Law

Independent Moldova's judicial and legal system is a carry-over from Soviet period and conforms to practices that were standard throughout the Soviet Union. Thus the legislative, executive and judicial powers in the Republic of Moldova are separated; they collaborate in exercising prerogatives vested in them. According to the Constitution (Constitution Art. 60), the political structure of Moldova consists of three political levels.

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The Legislative Power

The main legislative body in the Republic of Moldova is the Parliament, a unicameral assembly, previously called the Supreme Soviet. Parliament is the supreme representative authority of the people and the sole legislative body of the state (Constitution Art. 6).

Unlike the previous Parliaments, the present Legislature has 101 deputies (parties and electoral blocs, as well as independent candidates), who hold the permanent professional activity. Parliament is considered legally constituted only after the validating of two thirds of elected deputies' mandated by the Constitutional Court (http://www.ccrm.rol.md/index_en.html) and it is elected for four-year terms.

The structure, organization and functioning of the Parliament are set out by its Internal Rules. The Moldavian Parliament consists of standing bureau, parliamentary fractions and commissions http://www.parlament.md/structure/

Its Basic Powers are fixed in Article 66 of the Supreme Law:

  • to pass laws, decisions and motions;
  • to declare the holding of referendums;
  • to provide legislative interpretations and ensure the legislative unity of regulations throughout the country;
  • to approve the main directions of the state’s internal and external policy;
  • to approve the state’s military doctrine;
  • to exercise parliamentary control over executive power in the ways and within the limits provided for by the Constitution;
  • to ratify, denounce, suspend and abrogate the action of the international treaties concluded by the Republic of Moldova;
  • to approve and control the national budget;
  • to supervise and control the allocation of State loans, the aid of an economic or other nature granted to foreign countries, the conclusion of agreements concerning State loans or credits obtained from foreign sources;
  • to elect and nominate State officials as foreseen by law;
  • to approve the orders, medals and awards of the Republic of Moldova;
  • to declare partial or general mobilisation of the armed forces;
  • to declare the state of national emergency, martial law, and war;
  • to initiate investigations and hearings concerning any matters touching upon the interests of society;
  • to suspend the activity of local institutions of public administration under the law;
  • to pass bills of amnesty;
  • to exercise other powers, as provided for by the Constitution and the Law.

Parliament meets in two ordinary sessions per year. Parliament may also meet in extraordinary or special meetings at the specific request of the President of the Republic of Moldova, of the President of Parliament or of a third of the members.

The Parliament is endowed with the powers to pass constitutional, organic and ordinary laws.

Official Web-site of the legislative branch of the Moldavian government is http://www.parlament.md.

These decrees shall be published in the Official Gazette (Monitorul Oficial) of the Republic of Moldova (http://www.docs.md/Asp/frames.asp?Lang=ROM).

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The Executive Power

The Government is the highest authority of executive branch. The role of Government it is to carry out the domestic and foreign policy of the State and to apply general control over the work of public administration. The Moldavian Government will use its activity program, approved by Parliament, in the exercise of its powers.

The Government structure (http://www.moldova.md/en/government) consists of a Prime Minister (http://www.primministru.moldova.md/prim_ministru2(engl).nsf), a first vice-prime-minister, vice-prime-ministers of ministries and other members, as determined by organic law.

After consulting parliamentary factions the President of the Republic of Moldova designates a candidate for the office of Prime Minister. The Prime Minister leads the Government and coordinates the activity of its members, while respecting the powers delegated to them (Constitution Art. 98).

Ministries constitute the state’s specialized agencies: (http://www.moldova.md/ro/government/index.html)

  • Minister of Agriculture and Processing Industry
  • Minister of Economy
  • Minister of Finance
  • Minister of Industry
  • Minister of Transport and Communication
  • Minister of Ecology, Construction and Territorial Development
  • Minister of Education
  • Minister of Health
  • Minister of Labor and Social Protection
  • Minister of Culture
  • Minister of Justice
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Minister of Internal Affairs
  • Minister of Defense

The ministries put into practice under the law the Government’s policy, decisions and orders exercise control over their areas of competence and are answerable for their activities.

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The Judicial Power

The judicial authority in the Republic of Moldova is exercised through the courts system, regulated by Constitution and specific laws: Law on the Judicial Organization (Adopted on October 19, 1995), Law on the Status of Judge (Adopted on July 20, 1995), Law on the Supreme Court of Justice (Adopted on March 26, 1995), Law on the System of Military Courts (Adopted on August 1, 1996), Law on the Economic Courts (Adopted on November 26, 1996).

This court system is comprised of the following jurisdictions: Supreme Court of Justice, Court of Appeals, Tribunals, and ordinary courts. Even the activity of the Constitutional Court is judicial based, it is independent of any other public authority and obeys only the Constitution.

The Supreme Court of Justice (http://download.wjin.net/moldova/portal%20content/rol/curt_supr/index.htm) is the supreme court of law, that ensures the correct and unitary implementation of laws by all courts of law in the Republic of Moldova. The organization and functioning of the Supreme Court of Justice is regulated by a special Law on the Supreme Court of Justice.

  • considers in first instance the cases placed by law under its jurisdiction, as well as the cases appealed by means of recourse or extraordinary ways of appeal;
  • solves jurisdictional conflicts between the courts of law;
  • exercises other prerogatives, according to the law.

The official periodical published by the Supreme Court is “The Supreme Court Bulletin”.

The Court of Appeal (http://download.wjin.net/moldova/portal%20content/rol/Apel/index.htm) is the supreme instance concerning ordinary ways of appeal.

The Court of Appeals:

  • considers in first instance the cases paced by law under its jurisdiction;
  • considers the appeals against the decisions pronounced in first instance by the tribunals and specialized courts;
  • considers the recourses against the decisions pronounced by the tribunals in order of appeal, as well as in other cases provided by law;
  • considers, in limits of its jurisdiction, the cases subject to extraordinary ways of appeal;
  • generalizes the judicial practice;
  • solves jurisdictional conflicts between the tribunals;
  • exercises other prerogatives, according to the law.

Tribunals

In the Republic of Moldova there are 5 tribunals (according to territory tribunal from Chisinau, Balti, Cahul, Bender and Comrat). Each tribunal possesses jurisdiction in a circuit that comprises several courts. The tribunals may comprise several departments, according to the nature of the cases, or a single department, that shall be mixed.

The tribunals’ functions are: consider in first instance the cases and requests placed by law under their jurisdiction; consider the appeals against the decisions pronounced in first instance by courts; consider the recourses against the decisions pronounced by courts, that, according to the law, cannot be appealed; solves cases appealed by means of extraordinary ways, placed by law under their jurisdiction; solves jurisdictional conflicts between the courts within their circuit; generalize the judicial practice; exercise other prerogatives, in accordance with the law.

Ordinary courts

The courts function in districts and municipalities (their sectors). Extra courts may be established in some cities, villages (communes), as the case might be. The ordinary courts consider all cases and requests, with the exception of those that are, in accordance with the law, under the jurisdiction of other courts of law.

The judges sitting in the courts of law are appointed by the President of the Republic of Moldova following a proposal submitted to him by the Higher Magistrates Council.

For certain categories of cases there have been instituted specialized courts: military and economic.

Military Court

The military court are part of the Judiciary, they are specialized courts that administer justice, according to the law, within the military forces.

The military courts administer justice for the protection of any kind of assault on state security, the capacity of fight and defense of the military forces, the rights and freedoms of servicemen. The military courts system comprises of military courts and Departments of the Court of Appeals and of the Supreme Court of Justice. Besides criminal cases, the military courts also consider civil cases involving military units, cases involving natural persons and legal entities concerning the pecuniary damages occurred as a result of the military offences.

The Economic Court (http://download.wjin.net/moldova/portal%20content/rol/Econ/index.htm) is specialized court and is a part of the judicial system of the Republic of Moldova, established to administer justice in cases deriving from economic relations between natural persons and legal entities. The economic court has the duty to safeguard for the protection of the rights and legal interests of natural persons and legal entities during their entrepreneurial activity and other relations of economic nature, as well as for the correct and uniform application of the legislation in the field of economy.

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Judicial Administration

The Ministry of Justice (http://download.wjin.net/moldova/portal%20content/rol/MinJust/index.htm) is the specialized central body of the public administration, exercising the leadership, coordination and control in the ambit of its competence, ensures the implementation of the state policy in the field of justice and insofar its activity is concerned – the Ministry is subordinated to the Government.

The functions of the Ministry of Justice are:

  • Drafting of the most important laws
  • Giving its advisory opinion on draft laws and other drafts of the normative acts of the Government
  • Performing the systematization and improvement of the legislation
  • Representing the interests of the Government of the Republic of Moldova before the European Court of Human Rights and maintaining the international relationships in the field of justice
  • Ensuring the interaction of the Government and Parliament with the Constitutional Court

The Higher Magistrates' Council in accordance with regulations established in the organization of the judiciary performs the appointments, transfers, promotions of judges, as well as the disciplinary actions against them. The Higher Magistrates' Council is composed of 11 magistrates whose mandate is valid for 5 years. The following belong by right to the Higher Magistrates' Court: the Minister of Justice, the President of the Supreme Court of Justice, the President of the Court of Appeal, the President of the Court of Audit, the Prosecutor General.

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Additional Legal Institutions

The General Prosecution (http://download.wjin.net/moldova/portal%20content/rol/Procurat/index.htm).

The Prosecutor's Office is a body of supervision over the due observance of law in the Republic of Moldova. The Prosecutor General and the public prosecutors under him exercise control over the exact and uniform enaction of laws by public administration authorities, by the legal entities and natural persons as well as by their associations, according to the Constitution. The Prosecutor's Office defends the legal order, the rights and freedoms of citizens and supports the enforcement of justice under the law. By its activity, the Prosecutor's Office supports the maintenance of rule of law, its exact and uniform inaction in order to consolidate the legality and the defense of the rights and freedoms of citizens. It exercises its powers as an autonomous body in the legal bodies' system.

Information and Security Service (http://www.agentura.ru/opponent/sng/moldova) is a state organ that focuses its activity in the sphere of safeguarding the state security. It is coordinated by the President of the Republic of Moldova in accordance with the parliamentary control.

The Police, placed gratuitously in the service of the courts of law by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (www.mai.md), ensures the watch of the premises, of other goods of the courts of law, the security of judges, of other participants at the proceedings, the public order in the headquarters of the court and during the hearings; hands down summons to the parties, witnesses, debtors, and to other persons, brings them compulsory to the court; exercises the control of the people at the entry and the exit of the court, including the bodily control, under the conditions of the law; assists the judicial executors; fulfils other tasks connecting to the justice-making process.

The Court of Audit controls the ways of creating, administering and utilizing public financial resources. It is composed of 7 members. The President of the Court of Audit is appointed for a 5-year term by Parliament on proposal submitted by the President of Parliament. The Court of Audit submits annually to Parliament a report on the administration and utilization of public financial resources (Constitution, Art. 133). The Court of Audits is established by organic law on the Court of Audits (Adopted on December 8, 1994).

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Professional Education

The Moldavian legal education system comprises both state and private institutions, that include secondary (colleges) and higher professional (academies, universities and institutions).

The major state universities have law departments - Moldova State University from Chisinau (http://www.iatp.md/usmlaw/), State University from Cahul, State University from Balti (http://libruniv.beltsy.md/index.htm). Beside from these there are law departments or law faculties at private universities - Free International University of Moldova (http://ulim.moldnet.md/eng/dep_eng/drept_en.html), Univers Moldova (http://www.univers.net.md/En/universitet.htm), Slavic University (http://surm.meganet.md/yurid.html), etc.

Students at both state and private institutions have to pass an admission test. Studies last for 4 years (in that case students graduate high school) and for 5 years (in that case students graduate general school). Students also have the possibility to graduate at full-time and part-time program at law departments. After graduations, candidates must pass an examination at Attorneys' Union in order to become an advocate.

Everybody has a possibility to continue his education and scientific research at the postgraduate courses: master and doctorate.

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Moldavian Law Organizations, Institutions, Societies and Bar Associations

Currently, Moldavian legal community has a variety of professional associations.

The Rule of Law Foundation
http://www.wjin.net/Moldova/main.asp

Helsinki Comity for Human Rights from Republic of Moldova
http://chdom.ngo.moldnet.md/eng/indexe.htm

Center of Non-Commercial Law
http://www.cdn.ngo.md/

The Association of Young Research Lawyers
http://www.atjc.ngo.md/

The League for Defence of Human Rights
http://www.lado.ngo.md/

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Online Legal Periodicals

The major law universities have their own reviews. For example Moldova State University has it own Analele USM. Seria Drept (issued in 1998) and Free International University of Moldova Analele ULIM. Seria Drept (issued in 1998).

Additionally, one of the most influential Moldavian law reviews are Private Law Magazine, National Law Magazine and Juristul Moldovei Newspaper (previously The Law Newspaper).

Law Magazine (published by the Public Association Legal Clinic) -
http://www.iatp.md/drept

Order and Law Magazine (Ordine si lege) (http://www.mai.md/publications/) and Aegis of Law (Scutul Legii) (http://www.mai.md/centralmachinery/scutullegii/) - both published by Ministry of Internal Affairs.

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Moldavian Legal Databases

Online Moldavian Legislation (fee based)
http://www.docs.md

Online Moldavian Legislation (fee based)
http://www.lex.md

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Law Libraries

Generally, each law academic institution (college, university) as well as associations, have a law library. The Ministry of Justice, The Court of Appeal, The General Prosecution, Law Center, etc. have their own law library.

The Parliamentary Library (http://www.bundestag.de/datbk/library/moldo.html) with more than 11,400 titles servers, only members of Parliament.

The Public Law Library (www.pll.md) stores a collection of more that 4,000 items and a range of information and documentation services.