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Features - Doing Legal Research in Romania

By Dana Neacsu, Published on September 4, 2000

Dana Neacsu is a reference librarian at Columbia Law School, a lawyer and member of the bar of the State of New York, a former Romanian judge (1989-1990) and an assistant professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Bucharest (1990-1994). She received an LL.M. from Harvard (1994), a D.E.A. from Caen (1991), and a Diploma de Drept (J.D.) from Bucharest (1989). She has published a number of law articles in the US and Romania.


This an online guide to Romanian legal research. It provides information and links to print and online resources and is aimed primarily at researchers outside of Romania needing an overview of Romanian legal research. There are six major sections: I. Introduction: The Romanian Legal System; II. Romanian Primary Legal Resources; III. Romanian Secondary Legal Resources; IV. Romanian Legal Organizations (law libraries, law schools, etc.); V. Specific Topics in Romanian Law

Table of Contents

I. Introduction: The Romanian Legal System

  1. The legislative branch
  2. The executive branch
  3. The judicial branch

II. Romanian Primary Legal Resources

  1. Romanian statutory law
  2. Textbooks/Treatises
  3. Romanian case law
  4. European legislation and case law

III. Romanian Secondary Legal Resources

  1. Textbooks/Treatises & Legal Journals
  2. WWW Meta-sites for legal research

IV. Romanian Legal Organizations (law libraries, law schools, etc.)

  1. Romanian law schools
  2. Romanian law societies and bar associations
  3. Romanian law libraries/library catalogs
  4. Romanian law firms

V. Specific Topics in Romanian Law

  1. Administrative law
  2. Banking law
  3. Bankruptcy and insolvency law
  4. Civil law
  5. Civil and Criminal procedure
  6. Citizenship and Nationality (Immigration)
  7. Communications law
  8. Commercial law
        8.1.  Competition (Antitrust) law
        8.2.  Securities
  9. Constitutional law
        9.1.  Electoral law
  10. Contract law
  11. Corporate law
  12. Criminal law
  13. Employment & labour law
  14. Environmental law
  15. Family law
        15.1.  Adoptions
  16. Insurance law
  17. Intellectual property law
  18. International Private law
  19. Real property law
  20. Sexual orientation law
  21. Taxation law
  22. Tort law
  23. Trusts and estates law

I. Introduction: The Romanian Legal System

There are two main legal systems in the world: civil and common law. The Romanian legal system belongs to the first group, under which only the Constitution and other statutory legislation constitutes a legitimate source of legal rules. Therefore, unlike under the US and other common law systems,

  • Formally, the Romanian legal system does not recognize case law or judicial precedent as a source of legal rules. Previously decided cases therefore are not binding upon lower courts and do not create "law";
  • The doctrine provides the rule where the law is silent;
  • Trials in the Romanian legal system do not have a pretrial phase during which, for instance, discovery might occur as it does in the common-law system. Instead, discovery or its equivalent occurs as the trial proceeds. In criminal cases, however, there is a pretrial phase.
  • There are no jurors, and
  • The judge has a pro-active role in searching for the judicial truth.

I. 1. The Legislative Branch

The Romanian legislative branch is composed of national and local bodies. Its main national body is the Parliament, which has two chambers: a lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, and the Senate.

Parliament enacts statutes which are the main source of legal rules. Such statutes are officially published in Monitorul Official (Official Gazette) (for a bibliographic Romanian database of the Gazette, see http://diasan.vsat.ro/dic/owa/main.frame?page=legis&idl=0 for a database where some Gazettes can be accessed on line full-text, see http://www.delos.ro/capital/laws/). Parliament also is the source of the Constitution (http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de/law/ro00000_.html), having enacted it as a species of supra-legislation.

In addition,

Parliament may pass a special law enabling the Government to issue orders in fields outside the scope of organic laws.
Constitution, Art. 114. (http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de/law/ro00000_.html)

The county, urban and rural areas have their own autonomous ruling bodies, which, within defined geographical and jurisprudential boundaries, are empowered to enact binding decrees within their geographical areas (see Constitution, Sect. 2-a, Art. 120-21) (http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de/law/ro00000_.html).

I. 2. The Executive Branch

The Romanian executive branch has two main components: the Government (http://domino.kappa.ro/guvern/home.nsf) and the President (http://www.presidency.ro/engleza/main.html).

The Government consists of a Cabinet (http://domino.kappa.ro/guvern/cabinet.nsf/Lista), which is composed of a Prime Minister (http://domino.kappa.ro/guvern/home.nsf/All/PrimMinistru), ministers of various Ministries including, for instance, that of Foreign Affairs (http://domino.kappa.ro/mae/home.nsf/HomePageEng), and a secretary. In addition, the Government controls various Governmental Agencies, such as the Office for Fair Competition, the Romanian Copyright Office (http://domino.kappa.ro/guvern/agentii.nsf/Lista) or the Romanian Development Agency (http://www.delos.ro/capital/laws/).

The Government issues Decisions and Orders (see Constitution, Art. 107) (http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de/law/ro00000_.html), whose brief subject-matter descriptions can be viewed on line (http://www.veganet.ro/HOT_GU.htm). The President may issue Presidential decrees (see Constitution, Art. 99) (http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de/law/ro00000_.html), whose brief subject-matter descriptions can also be viewed on line (http://www.veganet.ro/DEC66.htm). The ministers also issue a large array of decisions (Hotariri) whose subject matter can be viewed on line (http://www.veganet.ro/AA90.htm).

Additionally, the Government appoints a Prefect in each county and in the City of Bucharest, who is its representative at local level. (Constitution, Art. 122) (http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de/law/ro00000_.html)

I. 3. The Judicial Branch

Before 1989 (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+ro0227), the Minister of Justice was responsible for the administration of justice. After 1989, the Supreme Court of Justice and lower courts have that responsibility:

Justice shall be administered by the Supreme Court of Justice and other courts established by law.
The Constitution, Art. 125 (http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de/law/ro00000_.html)

Additionally, under Art 130 of the Constitution (http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de/law/ro00000_.html), the Public Ministry is charged with the duty to represent the general interests of society and to defend the legal order, as well as the individual rights and freedoms. The Public Ministry, which discharges its powers through a system of Public Prosecutors, replaced the former Office of the Prosecutor General (Procuratura) (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+ro0227)), which had been established in 1952.

Civilian judges and Public Prosecutors are nominated by the Superior Council of the Magistrateship. Once thereafter appointed by the President, judges are, by law, irremovable and therefore enjoy life tenure. The Council acts as an administrative/disciplinary organ within the Ministry of Justice, and its acts can be viewed on line (http://www.veganet.ro/A_CSM.htm). It should be well-noted that, because judicial precedent is not a recognized source of law (and thus judges do not "make law") and, further, because normal judges cannot exercise judicial review (see below), the professional status and importance of judges is very different, and generally less, than that enjoyed by common-law judges.

The judicial system is divided into civilian and military courts (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+ro0229)). The civilian courts, generally, continue their pre-1989 structure (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+ro0228)), being organized at national, county (judet), and local levels.

Unlike the US Supreme Court, the Romanian Supreme Court cannot exercise judicial review, deciding the constitutionality of legislation. That function is reserved for a different court, the Constitutional Court (see Constitution, Art. 144) (http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de/law/ro00000_.html).

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II. Romanian Primary Legal Resources

II. 1. Statutes

Formally, Romanian courts apply only statutory laws, which are created by the legislature, and in some circumstances by the executive, but never by courts and thus never includes judicial precedent. The law is structured hierarchically, with the Constitution at the top, then codes and parliamentary statutes, and, at the bottom of the hierarchy, executive "laws." Before 1989, Romanian laws issued by the Parliament were published in an official journal called Buletinul Oficial al Republicii Socialiste România, and those issued by the Government were published in Colectia de hotarîri ale Consiliului de Ministri si alte acte normative. Those publications became Monitorul Oficial al Romaniei (Official Gazette) after the 1989 political changes.

The Columbia Law School Diamond Law Library has both Buletinul Oficial (http://pegasus.law.columbia.edu/search/wromania/wromania/25,424,424,B/frameset&F=wromania&26,26,) and Colectia de hotarîri (the Romanian Gazette) (http://pegasus.law.columbia.edu/search/wromania/wromania/37,424,424,B/frameset&F=wromania&48,48,) in its collection

The most important statutes (such as those regarding privatization) are available on line (http://www.delos.ro/capital/laws/) and on WESTLAW.

The New York University Law Library has Monitorul Oficial (http://julius.law.nyu.edu/search/wmonitorul/wmonitorul/1,3,3,B/frameset&F=wmonitorul&3,3,) in its collection.

II. 2. Textbooks/Treatises

When a statute is silent as to a particular set of facts, scholarly texts (textbooks and treatises) are heavily used by judges. The Law Library of New York University School of Law has a large collection of such Romanian works.

Although legislative history is not as an important tool of statutory interpretation as it is in the United States, for those interested in it, the American Bar Association, Central and East European Law Initiative (CEELI) has posted on line a number of domestic draft law assessments in the Commercial, Environmental, Executive, and Media fields (http://www.abanet.org/ceeli/assessments/Countries/Romania.html). Since these assessments are made, however, by non-Romanian consultants, their status as legislative history or even its equivalent is questionable.

II. 3. Case Law

The Romanian legal system, like any other civil law system, does not recognize legal precedent as stare decisis.

For example, although courts at every level are aware of the Constitutional Court's decisions holding laws unconstitutional, being officially published in Monitorul Oficial (Law on the Constitutional Court, Art. 13 & 20) (http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de/law/ro01000_.html), they do not bind ordinary courts faced with similar cases. Every time a court is confronted with an unconstitutional statute, it has to defer the matter to the Constitutional Court (http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de/law/ro01000_.html) and await its decision in every such case, before the matter at issue can be retried upon one party's request (Law on Constitutional Court, Art. 26) (http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de/law/ro01000_.html). There is a Romanian index to the decisions of the Constitutional Court available on line (http://diasan.vsat.ro/dic/owa/main.frame?page=legis&idl=0)

On the other hand, the Supreme Court's decisions (which, of course, are limited to statutory application and interpretation and do not address issues of constitutionality) are consciously followed by lower courts' judges in an effort to unify the law of the land. Although there is no system of general publication of judicial decisions similar to that in the US (see the Atlantic Reporter, etc.); there are specialized collections of selected decisions heavily edited (and selected) by their academic authors, such as Drept civil: spete si solutii din practica juriciara, which contain summaries of legal decisions in civil law matters.

New York University Law Library has such a collection authored by Profs. T.R. Popescu & I.P. Filipescu, Drept civil: spete si solutii din practica juriciara, which was published in 1970, (http://julius.law.nyu.edu/search/t?SEARCH=Drept+civil+%3A+spete+si+solutii+din+practica+juriciara).

It should be noted that the Romanian Minister of Justice has created an electronic database (http://domino2.kappa.ro/mj/jurispru.nsf), which contains summaries of post 1989-decisions issued by the Supreme Court of Romania and some Courts of Appeal. The summaries are in Romanian and the search may be done by typing words contained in the text of the summary, such as "land" or "agriculture."

II. 4. European Legislation and Case Law

Romania ratified (http://www.coe.fr/tablconv/decl25-46.htm) the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (http://www.coe.fr/eng/legaltxt/5e.htm), with only one reservation regarding military discipline (http://www.coe.fr/tablconv/reservdecl/dr5f.htm#ROUMANIE).

By ratifying this convention, Romania has agreed to enforce the rights guaranteed by the convention, including the right of individual petition to, and the obligatory jurisdiction of, the European Court of Human Rights. Accordingly, any Romanian citizen may bring a case against the Romanian State before the Court and the decision will be binding upon the Romanian State (http://www.coe.fr/eng/legaltxt/abstracts/edh.htm#ets5).

Some of the Courts' decisions regarding Romania may be viewed at http://www.ucd.ie/~law/staff/todowd/en_juridic.html while its current docket may be viewed at http://www.dhcour.coe.fr/pendcase.htm


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III. Romanian Secondary Legal Resources

III. 1. Textbooks, Treatises & Legal Journals

Textbooks:

Instead of textbooks, so common in North American law schools, the most common type of legal academic work in Romanian law schools is the legal treaty, which explains legal principles as applied to one legal area. Both New York University Law School and Columbia Law School (http://pegasus.law.columbia.edu/screens/opacmenu.html) carry Romanian legal treatises.

Legal Journals:

The major public law schools have their own law reviews. For example the Bucharest Faculty of Law publishes Analele Universitatii Bucuresti. Drept, and the Cluj Faculty of Law publishes Analele Facultatii de drept din Cluj.

The Columbia Law School Diamond Law Library has in its collection Analele Universitatii Bucuresti. Drept (http://pegasus.law.columbia.edu/search/wromania/wromania/1,424,424,B/cC163564&F=wromania&8,8,)

The Columbia Law School Diamond Law Library has in its collection Analele Facultatii de drept din Cluj (http://pegasus.law.columbia.edu/search/wromania/wromania/1,424,424,B/frameset&F=wromania&7,7,):

Additionally, one of the most influential Romanian law reviews is Dreptul (The Law), which superseded Revista Romana de Drept (The Romanian Law Review) which superseded Justitia Noua (New Justice), published by Uniunea Juristilor Democrati Din România (The Union of Romanian Democratic Lawyers). Other legal periodicals are Studii si Cercetari Juridice (Legal Studies and Research), and Revue roumaine des sciences sociales. Serie de sciences juridiques, both published by the Institute of Legal Research of the Romanian Academy. One of the most useful legal periodicals for a practitioner is Revista de Drept Comercial (The Review of Commercial Law) published by a commercial publisher, which contains notes, commentaries, and articles on newly evolved legal issues.

The Columbia Law School Diamond Law Library has Dreptul its collection (http://pegasus.law.columbia.edu/search/wromania/wromania/109,424,424,B/frameset&F=wromania&117,117,).

New York University Law Library has Revista Romana de Drept in its collection. (http://julius.law.nyu.edu/search/Wrevista+de+drept/Wrevista+de+drept/1,4,4,B/frameset&F=Wrevista+de+drept&3,3,).

The New York University Law Library has in its collection Revue roumaine d'études internationales (http://julius.law.nyu.edu/search/Wrevista+de+drept/Wrevista+de+drept/1,4,4,B/frameset&F=Wrevista+de+drept&4,4, ).

Although not published in Romania, The East European Constitutional Review (http://www.law.nyu.edu/eecr/) which is published by New York University Law School and Central European University also contains articles focussed on Romania, such as Constitution Watch. A country-by-country update on constitutional politics in Eastern Europe and the ex-USSR. (http://www.law.nyu.edu/eecr/vol7num3/constitutionwatch/romania.html).

III. 2. WWW Meta-sites for legal research

General sources:

Legal practice:

Miscellaneous:


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IV. Romanian Legal Organizations (law libraries, law schools, etc.)

IV. 1. Romanian law schools

The Romanian higher education system comprises both public and private law schools. (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+ro0079)). The major public law schools are faculties within the major universities: Bucharest University (http://www.unibuc.ro/), Iasi University (http://www.uaic.ro/), and Cluj University. Aside from these, there are a few other public law schools, such as the Faculty of Law and Public Administration, University "Lucian Blaga," located in Sibiu (http://www.sibiu.ro/law/law.html), and many new private law schools, such as CIIT Law Faculty, located in Ploiesti. (http://www.multimania.com/ciit/frames.htm)

Students at both public and private law schools have to pass an admission test (or have obtained certain grades in high school and, for private schools, pay certain fees), and must complete four years of study. Generally, the first year includes: General Theory of Law, Romanian State and Law History, Romanian Constitutional Law and Political Institutions, Roman Law, Civil law (I), Management, Political Economy or Philosophy, Sociology, Latin, and/or a foreign language.

The second year includes: Civil law (II), General Penal Law, Administrative Law, International Public Law, Financial Law, Criminology, Accountability, and International Protection of Human Rights.

The third year includes: Civil Law (III), Special Penal Law, Procedural Penal Law, Trade Law Work and Social Security Law, EU Law, Banks and Currency Law, Competition Law, Intellectual Property Law, International Trade Law, International Private Law, Criminal Investigation, (IV) Procedural Civil Law, Forensic Pathology, Family Law, Civil Jurisprudence, Penal Jurisprudence, and License Examination Training.

As in the US, after graduation and receipt of an approved law degree, students must pass a National Examination in order to legally practice law. Unlike in the US, after graduation, candidates must complete two years of supervised practical training leading to an examination, which once passed ensures full qualification.

IV. 2. Romanian law societies and bar associations

Law Societies:

Law students have always been organized- before 1989, as part of the so-called Communist Party, per each public law school, and after 1989, these associations became organized according to interests less ideological and more economic or commercial, see ELSA (http://www.twf.ro/stirea/18061998/supli03.html).

Professional/Bar Associations

After 1989, the rules of legal practice were provided by Law no. 51 of 7 January 1995, on the profession of advocate. Currently, Romanian jurists have a variety of professional associations:

  • Uniunea Juristilor Democrati din Romania (Democratic Lawyers' Union of Romania), 22 Bd Magheru, 70158 Bucharest. Tel 6596820, 6593340, 6593440.
  • Uniunea Avocatilor Din Romania (Union of Romanian Advocates) (http://www.veganet.ro/Uavoc.htm), Palatul Justitiei, Calea Rahovei nr 2-4, Sector 4, 70502 Bucharest. Tel: (1) 314 9229. Fax: (1) 312 1085.
  • Uniunea Nationala a Notarilor Publici din Romania. http://www.veganet.ro/Unotari.htm

IV. 3. Romanian law libraries/library catalogs

Generally, each public law school, each court of appeal, and district courts in major cities, have a law library. The Ministry of Justice and the Institute of Legal Research of the Romanian Academy have their own law library also. In addition, the Library of the Romanian Academy stores over 1,200,000 volumes, some of them of legal interest (http://www.acad.ro/New_Folder/biblioteca_academiei.htm)

The National Parliamentary Library (Biblioteca Senatului României) (http://www.bundestag.de/datbk/library/roman.htm), with over 40,000 titles, serves only members of Parliament.

After 1989, with the advent of the Internet and private law schools in Romania, on-line libraries made their debut. For example, the private law school CIIT has a web page which provides a link to an on-line public library, (http://www.multimania.com/ciit/frames.htm), whose 7700 titles "can be browsed by author, by title, or by Dewey Subject Classification."

IV. 4. Romanian law firms

After 1989, the state bar became privatized and currently there are many private law firms in the cities where courts are located. Additionally, international law firms have opened offices in Bucharest. Some of them may be contacted via the Internet:


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V. Specific Topics in Romanian Law

V. 1. Administrative law

Romanian administrative law is legally framed by the following statutes:

Law no. 69/1991, about local public administration, and the laws on administrative procedures: Law no. 29 of 7 November 1990, and Law no. 29 of 7 November 1993 published in Monitorul Oficial 26 July 1993.

It should be well noted, however, that the term "administrative law" has a meaning quite different from its common-law counterpart. It is not agency law, in the common-law sense, but deals with the entire, and relatively autonomous, body of law within the jurisdiction of the Government as opposed to that deriving from Parliamentary statutory law.

V. 2. Banking law

After 1989, the Romanian Parliament adopted banking laws mirroring the privatization changes. Additionally, the Romanian National Bank has issued a large number of administrative rules which can be accessed from http://www.veganet.ro/A_BNR.htm.

A strong supporter of economic changes in Eastern Europe, the World Bank (http://www.worldbank.org.ro/eng/wbrom/index.shtml), as well as the International Monetary Fund have been increasingly involved in Romanian politics. Both institutions support the privatization of Romanian financial institutions, whose legal regime was established by Law no. 83/1997. Their economic power, and Romania's financial condition, means their decisions frequently had legal, as well as political, consequences.

For instance, the World Bank's conditional commitments to Romania total US$3 billion. The IMF also has made commitments, conditioned in various ways. (See, eg., Eastern European Newsletter, No. 3/2000 at 71. (http://pegasus.law.columbia.edu/search/w?SEARCH=+Eastern+European+Newsletter)

V. 3. Bankruptcy and insolvency law

Originally, issues of bankruptcy were governed by the Commercial Code. Currently, Law no. 64 of 22 June 1995 regulates both the procedures for reorganization in commercial insolvencies and those for judicial liquidation.

V. 4. Civil law

The body of Romanian law, which defines the entire Romanian legal system, is codified under the title of Codul civil român (The Romanian Civil Code) (http://home.dntis.ro/~giulian/codcivil/index-civ.html). The Code came into force on Dec. 1, 1865. The Civil Code, which follows the French Civil Code of 1804, was reinstated after 1989 (see Monitorul Oficial 21 Nov. 1991), excluding the sections on persons and personal status which are currently contained in Codul familiei (Family Code) and Decree no. 31 of 31 December 1953, and Decree no. 32 of 30 January 1954, both published in Buletinul Oficial from 30 January 1954.

The Civil Code is divided into four parts:

  • Titlul Preliminar - Despre efectele si aplicarea legilor în genere (a preliminary part about the law's effect and application)
  • CARTEA I - Despre persoane (a first part about subjects of law)
  • CARTEA II - Despre bunuri si despre osebitele modificãri ale proprietãtii (a second pat about what property claims can become the object of law: mobile and immobile property)
  • CARTEA III - Despre diferitele moduri prin care se dobândeste proprietatea (a third part about ways of transferring property)

The New York University Law Library has ordered for its collection a recently published introductory textbook on Romanian civil law: Boroi, Gabriel, Drept civil. Partea Generala. Bucharest : Editorial All, 1998 (http://julius.law.nyu.edu/search/aBoroi,+Gabriel/aboroi+gabriel/-5,-1,0,B/frameset&F=aboroi+gabriel&1,1)

For a more condensed explanation see, Flavius A. Baias, Romanian Civil and Commercial Law in Frankowski, Stanislaw & Stephan, Paul B. (editors), Legal reform in post-communist Europe : the view from within, 1995 (http://julius.law.nyu.edu/search/t?SEARCH=Legal+reform+in+post-communist+Europe+%3A+the+view+).

V. 5. Civil and Criminal procedure

While the 19th century Code of Civil procedure (http://www.veganet.ro/Coduri/Cprciv1.htm) is still enforced (see Monitorul Oficial 26 July 1993) largely in its original form, the 19th century Code of Criminal Procedure was abrogated and replaced by the 1968 Code of Criminal procedure (http://legal.dntis.ro/cppenal/index-cpp.html), which was substantially amended in 1973 and 1996 (see Monitorul Oficial 14 November 1996).

The Code of Civil procedure (CODUL DE PROCEDURA CIVILA) is divided into seven books or parts.

The first part covers judicial competency, the second covers certain general rules of procedure during trials, the third part covers other general rules of procedure, the fourth part covers arbitration, the fifth part covers execution and attachment, and the sixth part contains specific rules of procedures governing specific types of trials, such as divorce. The last part contains transitional rules adopted in 1993.

The Code of Criminal procedure is divided into two main parts: a general part and a special part. The general part is further subdivided into five titles:

  • TITLUL I - Regulile de bazã si actiunile în procesul penal (general rules in criminal trial)
  • TITLUL II - Competenta (rules of judicial competency)
  • TITLUL III - Probele si mijloacele de probã (rules of evidence and means of proof)
  • TITLUL IV - Mãsurile preventive si alte mãsuri procesuale (means of prevention)
  • TITLUL V - Acte procesuale si procedurale comune (general acts of criminal procedure)

The special part is further divided into four parts:

  • TITLU I - Urmãrirea penalã (pre-trial discovery)
  • TITLUL II - Judecata (criminal trial)
  • TITLUL III - Executarea hotãrârilor penale (sanctions)
  • TITLUL IV - Proceduri speciale (special criminal procedures

V. 6. Citizenship and nationality

Law no. 21 of 1 March 1991, published in Monitorul Oficial 44/1991, establishes new rules governing citizenship. Law no.15 of 2 April 1996, published in Monitorul Oficial 69/1996 governs the legal status of refugees.

V. 7. Communications law

After 1989, Romania adopted a series of new laws in a desire to ensure a rapid change of power. Among them are new communications laws, including telecommunications and satellite transmissions (see Law of 12 July 1996 about postal service, and Law no 74 of 12 July 1996 on television communications, both published in Monitorul Oficial no. 156/1996).

V. 8. Commercial law

The 19th century Commercial code (Codul comercial) (http://www.hg.org/#romania), which followed the Italian model, is still enforce, although some of its provisions have been abrogated or amended. The code is divided into four parts (books).

The first part is further subdivided into fourteen titles containing general rules of commerce (agents and acts of commerce). Title XIII contains insurance rules, some of them having been abrogated by post 1989 legislation.

The second part is further subdivided into nine titles containing maritime law rules.

The third and the last part contain bankruptcy rules which have also been abrogated. (See section on bankruptcy)

After 1989, the Romanian Parliament adopted legislation pursuant to the government's decision to adopt a capitalist legal system.

  • Law no. 15 of 31 July 1990, published in Monitorul Oficial no. 98/1990, governs the reorganization of state-owned enterprises as autonomously administered concerns and specifies the procedures for privatization and creation of privately held business associations.
  • Law no. 26 of 5 November 1990, published in Monitorul Oficial no. 121/1990, provides the commercial and trade registry rules.
  • Law no 31 of 15 November 1990, published in Monitorul Oficial no 126-27/1990, covers the formation, powers, activities, and liquidation of partnerships, companies with limited liability, and joint stock companies.
  • Law no. 58 of 31 July 1991, published in Monitorul Oficial of 16 August 1991, amends and improves Law no. 15 in the area of commercial privatization.
  • Law no. 36 of 30 April 1991, published in Monitorul Oficial no 97/1991, contains the rules for the creation of private agricultural entities.
  • Decree No. 96 of 14 March 1990, in addition to Law no. 31, provides for the rules to encourage foreign capital investment.

The New York University Law Library has ordered for its collection a recently published textbook on Romanian commercial law: Carpenaru, Stanciu D. Drept comercial roman. Bucharest : Editorial All, 1998 (http://julius.law.nyu.edu/search/aCarpenaru,+Stanciu+D./acarpenaru+stanciu+d/-5,-1,0,B/exact&F=acarpenaru+stanciu+d&1,2)

V. 8.1. Competition (Antitrust) law

The current law on the protection and encouragement of competition, Law no. 21 of 10 April 1996 (in force since 1 February 1997), abrogated and replaced Law no. 11 of 29 January 1991, and sections 36 to 38 of Law 15 of 1990.

Additionally, the Competition Council, a governmental agency, acts on issues of unfair competition. Its binding decisions can be viewed on line (http://www.veganet.ro/CCONC.htm).

V. 8.2. Securities

Law 52 of 7 July 1994, published in Monitorul Oficial of 11 August 1994, provides the rules for securities and stock exchange in Romania. Additional legislation regulates

  • transactions in securities not listed on the Romanian Stock exchange (Government Ordinance of 26 August 1993) and
  • activities of open investment funds and investment companies (Government Ordinance of 26 August 1993).

The Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the National Trade Registry Office created an electronic database which assists investors in finding business-related information (http://roleg.ccir.ro/Rinform.htm) about Romanian-based firms. Investors may access Rasdaq (http://www.rasd.ro/index.html) and the Bucharest Stock Exchange on line (http://bse.ccir.ro/).

V. 9. Constitutional law

Romania is a presidential republic and a unitary state, which is governed directly by the elected president. The president shares legislative power with the bi-cameral Parliament and the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers. However, laws, the legislative statutes with the highest authority after the Constitution and its amendments, are adopted by the Parliament. The president and the Council of Ministers can also legislate by delegation in certain situations, such as emergency or pursuant to prior laws.

After 1989, according to its new political regime, Romania adopted by referendum, on 13 December 1991, a new Constitution, its seventh.

Its prior constitutions are:

The 1991 Constitution may be found in print version translated in English at most law school libraries. For example, Fordham University Law Library has a copy (http://lawpac.fordham.edu/search/tConstitutia+(1991)./tconstitutia+1991+english/-5,-1,0,B/frameset&F=tconstitutia+1991+english&1,1)[is)

The New York University Law Library has in its collection a recently published introductory textbook on Romanian constitutional law by a well-established Romanian Professor of Constitutional law: Draganu, Tudor. Drept constitutional si institutii politice: tratat elementar Bucuresti : Lumina Lex, 1998 (http://julius.law.nyu.edu/search/aDraganu,+Tudor/adraganu+tudor/-5,-1,0,B/frameset&F=adraganu+tudor&1,1).

Fordham Univeristy Law Library has in its collection a monograph written by a younger legal expert, whose title translated into English is "Constitution of Romania, 1991: A Critical Approach." Dianu, Tiberiu, Constitutia României din 199 : o abordare critica. Bucuresti : Oscar Print, 1997 (http://lawpac.fordham.edu/search/tConstitutia+(1991)./tconstitutia+1991+english/-5,-1,0,B/frameset&F=tconstitutia+romaniei+din+1991+o+abordare+critica+constitution+of+romania+1991+a+critical+approach&1,1)

V. 9.1. Electoral law

Romanian elections take place according to Law No. 68 from July 15, 1992, which, inter alia, provides that

To ensure the proper functioning of electoral proceedings, the Central Electoral Bureau, Constituency Bureaus, and Electoral Bureaus of polling stations shall be established for each election, under the conditions of the present law.
Art. 23. - (1) (http://www.kappa.ro/guv/bec/ceb96.html)

After 1989, there were three parliamentary and presidential elections (http://www.cspp.strath.ac.uk//romelec.html#votes), the last one (http://www.kappa.ro/guv/bec/r-pr2-e.html) taking place on November 1996.

V. 10. Contract law

Romanian law does not contemplate "contract law" as a separate legal discipline. Contracts are viewed as a category of civil law (see bail, rent, etc) or as part of commercial law (when the focus is on the status of the contracting parties and not on the substance of the contract).

The New York Law Library has recently ordered for their reserve a current textbook on civil law special contracts: Chirica, Dan. Drept civil. Contracte speciale. Buchares : Editorial Lumina Lex, 1999 (http://julius.law.nyu.edu/search/wdrept+administrativ/wdrept+administrativ/1,35,35,B/frameset&F=wdrept+administrativ&4,4,):

V. 11. Corporate (company) law - Romania

  • Law no. 15 of 31 July 1990, published in Monitorul Oficial no. 98/1990, governs the reorganization of state-owned enterprises as autonomously administered concerns and specifies the procedures for privatization and creation of privately held business associations.
  • Law no 31 of 15 November 1990, published in Monitorul Oficial no 126-27/1990, covers the formation, powers, activities, and liquidation of partnerships, companies with limited liability, and joint stock companies.
  • Decree No. 96 of 14 March 1990, in addition to Law no. 31, provides for the rules to encourage foreign capital investment.

For details see section on "Commercial Law"

V. 12. Criminal Law

Romania's 1968 Penal code was amended in 1973 and 1996 (http://home.dntis.ro/~giulian/codpenal/index-pen.html) and is still in force.

The 1973 version reduced the overall number of indictable offenses, introduced lighter sentences as well as a system of release on bail for those accused of minor crimes was established, and mandated rehabilitation instead of prison sentences in many cases. After 1989, the death penalty was replaced by life in prison.

The Penal code is divided in two parts: a general and a special part. The general part is further subdivided into eight titles: the first covers the foundation of penal law, the second covers the general forms of crimes, the third covers sanctions and their applications, the fourth covers the situations when there is no criminal responsibility, the fifth covers juvenile delinquency, the sixth the means of security, the seventh describes the situations when criminal responsibility and sanctions do not apply, and the eighth title contains a description of various criminal terms.

The special part is further subdivided into eleven titles, each one describing the regime (elements, responsibility and sanctions) applicable to specific types of crimes.

For more recent amendments to the Romanian penal code see the New York University Library 's collection: For a more condensed explanation see, Dianu, Tiberiu, The Romanian criminal justice system in Frankowski, Stanislaw & Stephan, Paul B. (editors), Legal reform in post-communist Europe: the view from within, 1995 (http://julius.law.nyu.edu/search/t?SEARCH=Legal+reform+in+post-communist+Europe+%3A+the+view+).

During the so-called socialist era, the Romanian penal code had three major amendments (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+ro0230)): the 1948, 1968, the 1978 versions. For a description of the previous codes see: Kleckner, Simone-Marie Vrabiescu, The Penal Code of the Romanian Socialist Republic. South Hackensack, N.J.: F.B. Rothman, 1976

V. 13. Employment & labor law

The Romanian socialist labor code, Law no. 10 of 23 November 1972, is mostly abrogated (http://www.veganet.ro/Coduri/CM.htm#P1). Some of its applicable sections, such as the one on the guaranteed right to work (Art. 2), have become obsolete by the nature of the new political and economic environment.

For a general view of Romanian labor law see the New York University Library 's collection: Athanasiu, Alexandru and Moarcas, Ana Claudia. The Main Features of Romanian Labor Laws in the Period of Transition in Frankowski, Stanislaw & Stephan, Paul B. (editors), Legal reform in post-communist Europe : the view from within, 1995 (http://julius.law.nyu.edu/search/t?SEARCH=Legal+reform+in+post-communist+Europe+%3A+the+view+).

V. 14. Environmental Law

The basic law on the protection of the environment is Law no. 137 of 29 December 1995, which is published in Monitorul Oficial of 30 December 1995.

For background information on environmental law in Eastern Europe see: Environmental problems in Eastern Europe. London; New York: Routledge, c1996 (http://lawpac.fordham.edu/search/Wromania*/Wromania*/13,65,65,B/frameset&F=Wromania*&14,14,)

For a pragmatic discussion of environmental rights in Romania, see Popescu, Dumitra. The relationships between environmental rights and property rights in the environmental legislative process in Romania: the Danube Delta case in Deimann, Sven & Dyssli (editors), Bernard Environmental rights: law, litigation & access to justice. London : Cameron May, 1995 http://lawpac.fordham.edu/search/Wromania*/Wromania*/13,65,65,B/frameset&F=Wromania*&15,15,

V. 15. Family Law

The Romanian Family Code (http://home.dntis.ro/~giulian/familie/index-fam.html) became law on January 4, 1954, and was amended in 1956, 1966, 1970, and 1974.

It is divided into three titles: the First Title defines marriage (TITLUL I - Cãsãtoria); the Second Title defines relatives (TITLUL II - Rudenia) and the Third Title defines legal representation, various degrees of incapacity and legal protection (TITLUL III - Ocrotirea celor lipsiti de capacitate, a celor cu capacitate restrânsã si a altor persoane).

V. 15.1. Family Law - Adoptions

The Consular Information Sheet (dated September 14, 1999) -- http://travel.state.gov/romania.html -- stresses the fact that prospective parents may wish to obtain information about both United States visa requirements and Romanian adoption laws from the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest or from that Embassy's website: http://www.usis.kappa.ro/. It also notes that Romanian adoption law mandates criminal penalties for offering money or goods to obtain the release of children for adoption.

An information packet on Romanian adoptions is available by writing the Office of Children's Issues, Room 4817, Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520, or by telephoning (202)647-2688.

For a general presentation of the present situation of Romanian adoptions see Zugravescu, Alexandra and Iacovescu, Ana. The adoption of children in Romania in Jaffe, Eliezer David, (editor), Intercountry adoptions : laws and perspectives of "sending" countries. Kluwer Academic Publishers, c1995 (http://lawpac.fordham.edu/search/Wromania*/Wromania*/13,65,65,B/frameset&F=Wromania*&18,18,)

V. 16. Insurance law - Romania

There are two major pieces of legislation in this area:

  • Law no. 136 of 29 December 1995, published in Monitorul Oficial of 30 December 1995, on insurance and reinsurance, and
  • Law no.145 of 24 July 1997, published in Monitorul Oficial no 178 of 1997, on health insurance.

V. 17. Intellectual property law - Romania

V. 18. International Private Law- Romania

In 1992, Romania enacted a new law on conflicts of law (legea cu privire la reglementarea raporturilor de drept international privat):

  • Law no 195 of 22 September 1992 was published in Monitorul Oficial of 1 October 1992

V. 19. Real Property Law

The Romanian Civil Code (Book II, Titles 1 & 2) and the numerous statutes adopted after 1989 ensure a complex domestic real estate legal regime.

The new laws are:

  • Law no. 18 of 1991, published in Monitorul Oficial no 37 / 1991, on real property and ownership;
  • Law no. 14 of 11 Oct 1996, published in Monitorul Oficial of 30 November 1992;
  • Law no. 7 of 1995, published in Monitorul Oficial of 26 March 1996.

V. 20. Law and Sexual Orientation

Until 14 November 1996 same-sex sexual relationships in Romania were illegal under Article 200 of the penal code:

Sexual relations between persons of the same sex are punishable by imprisonment of one to five years.
...
Inciting or encouraging a person to practice the acts described in paragraph 1 is punishable by imprisonment of one to five years.

Subsequently, Article 200 was amended and the complete ban was lifted. Presently, only

[s]exual relations between persons of the same sex, committed in public or if producing public scandal, are punishable by imprisonment of one to five years.

However, the second part of "criminal conduct", as defined in the above statute has been broadened so much as to impinge upon conventional Western notions of freedom of expression.

Inciting or encouraging a person to the practice of sexual relations between persons of the same sex, as well as propaganda or association or any other act of proselytism committed in the same scope, is punishable by imprisonment of one to five years.
(translation quoted from http://www.ilga.org/Information/legal_survey/europe/romania.htm).

V. 21. Taxation law - Romania

The taxation system has dramatically changed in Romania since 1989. The current legal regime is provided by

  • Law no. 12 of 30 January 1991, published in Monitorul Oficial no 25 /1990, on excess profits tax; and Law no. 73 of 12 July 1996, published in Monitorul Oficial no 174/1990, on profits tax;
  • Law no. 32 of 29 March 1991, published in Monitorul Oficial no. 70/1990, on wage and salary tax;
  • Law no. 27 of 17 May 1994, published in Monitorul Oficial of 24 May 1994, on local taxation;
  • Law no.34 of 30 may 1994, published in Monitorul Oficial no. 140/1990; and
  • Law no. 74 of 12 July 1996, published in Monitorul Oficial no. 175/1996

For a detailed presentation of Romania's taxation system, see Taxation and investment in Central and Eastern European countries (G. Erdös, W.G. Kuiper, and J. Wheeler, eds).

V. 22. Tort law - Romania

The Romanian legal system, like all civil law systems, includes "tort law," although expressed in the far more typically laconic civil law style, and therefore in the form of a very general prohibition against wrongful (and undefined in the more highly developed common-law sens) conduct. Tort law is contained in the Civil Code, and it is contained in a handful of paragraphs (articles).

V. 23. Trusts and estates law - Romania

Romania abrogated the trusts section of its Civil code. The Civil code still contains the rules on inheritance and succession (Code Civil arts 644-941).