The state of emergency initially instituted in Romania until 14 April has been extended for an additional 30 days as of 15 April 2020. Additional measures have also been enacted with respect to the courts’ activity.
We have listed below an updated review of the impact the state of emergency will have on civil and administrative disputes currently registered with the courts:
1. Only especially urgent matters will be addressed by the courts; the list will be established by the management committees of the High Court of Cassation and Justice or of the courts of appeal, as applicable, for disputes within their respective jurisdiction. The courts will observe the following rules:
- time limits will be set on short notice, i.e. for the following day or on the same day;
- hearings may be held by videoconference and documents may be communicated by e-mail or fax;
- the new measures enacted on 15 April provide for logistical aspects on the conduct of hearing by videoconference and set in place a series of obligations for the courts who have jurisdiction in the areas where the parties, their representatives and other participants to the trial (the Participants) are located (which may be different from the court hearing the matter); thus, upon request from the court hearing the urgent matter, the courts who have jurisdiction at Participants‘ locations will: (i) proceed to their identification in accordance with the applicable legal provisions, through a judge appointed by the president of the court to this end and (ii) provide them with all the necessary audio-video equipment for the purposes of the audio-conference hearing;
- throughout the process for the implementation of the measures mentioned above there is no obligation to draw-up specific minutes (such as the ones required for rogatory commission measures);
- when possible, the statements of claim, appeals, as well as any other procedural documents addressed to the court, for which the law requires the written form and which are not submitted directly during the hearing, will be filed by electronic means;
- urgent cases may be adjourned upon request; if the request is dismissed, the court is bound, however, to adjourn the ruling and allow written statements by the parties, either ex officio or upon party`s request.
2. Civil cases which are not particularly urgent are automatically suspended during the state of emergency, without the need to file any formal request to this effect (such as a request to adjourn or change the hearing date);
3. At the end of the state of emergency, proceedings in non-urgent matters will be resumed ex officio; within 10 days as of the end of the state of emergency the courts will take measures for setting the hearing dates and summoning of the parties;
4. Time limits for filing appeals running at 14 April 2020 (i.e. the date when the state of emergency was instituted) are interrupted and new time limits with the same duration will run as of the date when the state of emergency ends;
5. Appeals already filed in non-urgent matters will be referred to the competent courts after the state of emergency ends;
6. Statutes of limitations and time bars do not begin to run and, if already commenced, are suspended for the duration of the state of emergency;
7. If due to the COVID – 19 pandemic, the number of judges necessary to form the panel in a hearing cannot be assured, the president of the court or his substitute orders the participation of judges from other divisions of the court, appointed by lot; and
8. During the state of emergency the drafting and notification of court decisions as well as the filing of new court applications and any other activities continues, subject to the observance of sanitary discipline rules in force during the state of emergency.