In Romania, in addition to ordinary courts, there are specialised sections or panels for dispute resolution with regard to certain matters.
Pursuant to the provisions of Law No 304/2004 on judicial organisation, the High Court of Cassation and Justice (Înalta Curte de Casație și Justiție) has 4 sections – Civil Section I, Civil Section II, the Criminal Section, the Administrative and Tax Litigation Section – the Nine-Judge Panel and the Joint Sections, each having their own jurisdiction. Courts of appeal, tribunals or, as appropriate, district courts have specialised sections or panels for civil cases, criminal cases, cases involving minors and family matters, cases involving administrative and tax disputes, cases related to labour disputes and social insurance, companies, the Trade Register, insolvency, unfair competition, maritime and fluvial cases. Specialised tribunals may be set up to rule on the above matters, as appropriate.
The Code of Civil Procedure sets out the ordinary procedure for civil cases. Its provisions also apply to other matters, insofar as the laws governing them do not provide otherwise.
Articles 94 to 97 of the Code of Civil Procedure govern the subject-matter jurisdiction of civil courts of law.
As courts of first instance, district courts hear the following cases involving applications that can (cannot) be measured in terms of money:
District courts hear appeals against the decisions of the public authorities with jurisdiction and other bodies with jurisdiction. District courts also hear any other applications which are by law within their jurisdiction.
Courts of appeal hear:
The High Court of Cassation and Justice hears:
The Romanian civil judicial system distinguishes between lower and higher courts, with jurisdiction related to subject matter being established among different-ranking courts according to functional (type of duty) and procedural criteria (value, subject matter or nature of dispute).
The Code of Civil Procedure has brought changes in terms of jurisdiction, and tribunals have become courts with full jurisdiction to hear the substance of cases at first instance. The jurisdiction of district courts includes hearing small and/or less complex claims, which are highly frequent in practice.
Courts of appeal have jurisdiction to mainly hear appeals, while the High Court of Cassation and Justice is the ordinary court of review which ensures the uniform interpretation and application of the law at national level.
In the Romanian civil judicial system, the rules on territorial jurisdiction are laid down in Article 107 et seq. of the Code of Civil Procedure.
According to the general rule, the application is lodged with the court in whose area the defendant's domicile or registered office is located.
There are specific rules on territorial jurisdiction, such as:
The Romanian Code of Civil Procedure lays down a number of rules of alternative jurisdiction (Articles 113 to 115). Thus, the following courts also have territorial jurisdiction:
Where the defendant regularly carries out professional activities/agricultural, commercial, industrial or similar activities away from their domicile, the application may also be lodged with the court in whose area the activities are carried out, insofar as concerns pecuniary obligations arising or to be performed in that place.
In respect of insurance matters, an application for damages may also be lodged with the court in whose area the insured party's domicile or registered office is located, in whose area the insured party's assets are located or in whose area the insured risk has materialised.
The choice of jurisdiction under an agreement is deemed to be null and void if made before the right to compensation has arisen, while, in respect of matters concerning compulsory civil liability insurance, the injured third party may initiate direct proceedings also before the court in whose area their domicile/registered office is located.
In the case of applications regarding the protection of natural persons, where, pursuant to the Civil Code, the custody and family court is competent, it is the court in whose area the protected person's domicile/residence is located that decides on the question of territorial jurisdiction. In the case of applications for the authorisation, by the custody and family court, of the conclusion of certain legal acts (in relation to an immovable property), the court in whose area the immovable property is located also has jurisdiction. In this case, the custody and family court that has handed down the judgment delivers a copy of the judgment to the custody and family court in whose area the protected person has his/her domicile/residence.
An application for divorce falls within the jurisdiction of the district court in whose area the last joint home of the spouses is located. If there is no such joint home or if neither spouse lives any longer in the area of the district court having jurisdiction where the joint home is located, the competent district court is the one in whose area of jurisdiction the defendant’s home is located. If the defendant does not live in Romania and the Romanian courts have international jurisdiction, the court in whose area the applicant’s home is located has jurisdiction. If neither the applicant nor the defendant lives in Romania, the parties may agree to lodge the application for divorce with any district court in Romania. In the absence of such agreement, the application for divorce shall be lodged with Bucharest's 5th District Court (Article 915 of the Code of Civil Procedure).
Applications for the resolution of individual labour disputes shall be lodged with the tribunal in whose area the applicant's domicile/place of work is located (Article 269 of Law No 53/2003 – Labour Code).
The rules laying down exclusive territorial jurisdiction are set out in Articles 117 to 121 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Thus:
Parties may agree in writing or, in respect of ongoing disputes, by means of a verbal statement before the court, that cases related to assets and other rights they may have should be heard by other courts than those that would have territorial jurisdiction, unless they have exclusive jurisdiction. In disputes concerning the protection of consumers’ rights and other cases provided for by law, the parties may agree on the choice of competent court only after the right to compensation has arisen, any agreement to the contrary being deemed null and void (Article 126 of the Code of Civil Procedure).
Ancillary, additional and incidental applications come under the jurisdiction of the court that is competent for the principal application, even if they fall within the subject-matter or territorial jurisdiction of another court, except for applications concerning insolvency or creditors’ arrangements. These provisions also apply where the jurisdiction over the principal application has been laid down by law in favour of a specialised section or panel. If a court has exclusive jurisdiction over one of the parties, it shall have exclusive jurisdiction over all parties (Article 123 of the Code of Civil Procedure).
Moreover, pursuant to the provisions of Article 124 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the court that has jurisdiction to rule on the principal application shall also rule on defences and exceptions, except for those that are preliminary matters and fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of another court, while procedural incidents are heard by the court before which they are raised.
The issue of a general lack of a court's jurisdiction may be raised by the parties or by the judge at any stage in the case. The issue of a lack of subject-matter and territorial jurisdiction of public order must be raised at the first hearing to which the parties have been duly summoned before the court of first instance, while a lack of jurisdiction of private order may be raised only by the defendant, through the defence or, if defence is not mandatory, at the latest at the first hearing to which the parties have been duly summoned before the court of first instance. If the lack of jurisdiction is not of public order, the party that has lodged the application with a court that has no jurisdiction will not be able to request a declaration of lack of jurisdiction (Article 130 of the New Code of Civil Procedure).
In civil disputes with cross-border implications, in matters concerning rights freely available to the parties under Romanian law, if the parties have validly agreed that the Romanian courts have jurisdiction to rule on current or possible disputes in relation to those rights, only the Romanian courts shall be competent to rule on such matters. Unless the law provides otherwise, the Romanian court before which the defendant is summoned remains competent to rule on the application if the defendant appears before the court and submits defences as to the substance of the case without raising an objection of lack of jurisdiction at the latest by the end of the stage of inquiry into the case before the court of first instance. In the two above-mentioned situations, the Romanian court to which the matter has been referred may dismiss the application if it becomes clear, from all the circumstances of the case, that the dispute has no significant link to Romania (Article 1067 of the New Code of Civil Procedure).
See answers to questions 1, 2, 2.1., 2.2., 126.96.36.199., 188.8.131.52.
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