Most of the amendments made to the RCPC are aimed at simplifying court procedures and compliance with the latest decisions taken by the Romanian Constitutional Court in relation to court jurisdiction.
One important amendment consists in fully removing the filtering procedure for cassation appeals which was previously conducted by the High Court of Cassation and Justice in non-contentious procedures aimed at ruling on the admissibility of the cassation appeal. This will certainly lead to a faster resolution of cassation appeals which were very much delayed by this filtering procedure.
Significant amendments have also been made in relation to the jurisdiction of Romanian courts to resolve cassation appeals. Due to the wording of the previous version of the RCPC there have been extensive debates on whether or not the High Court of Cassation and Justice should resolve all cassation appeals, irrespective of the case value and the court which delivered the appealed judgement.
With the latest amendments to the RCPC it has been established that: (i) the tribunals have jurisdiction to rule on cassation appeals filed against judgments issued by the first instance courts (in Romanian "Judecatorii"); (ii) the courts of appeals shall have jurisdiction to rule on cassation appeals against judgements issued by the tribunals; and (iii) the High Court of Cassation and Justice shall only resolve cassation appeals filed against judgements issued by the courts of appeals. This has actually confirmed the general rules of jurisdiction and court hierarchy which were in place before 2013 (i.e. before the new RCPC was enacted).
Moreover, by the newly enacted amendments, the legislator excluded the value limitations (Article 482 RCPC) in relation to the possibility to file a cassation appeal. At the moment any judgement (issued in an appeal or in a case where it is not possible to file an appeal) can be challenged by a cassation appeal irrespective of the case value.
The RCPC amendments also refer to the provisions (Article 183 para. (1) and (3)) regulating the moment when a procedural document is deemed to be filed with the court, in case of communication via fax or email. It was now established that documents sent via fax or email shall be considered submitted at the court at the date of their receipt as recorded by the court fax or email.
As regards the drafting of the judgment, an important amendment refers to the drafting and communication deadlines. Thus, the new wording of Article 426 para. (5) of the RCPC establishes that the decision has to be drafted and signed by the judge (or the panel of judges) no later than thirty (30) days from the date of the ruling, and only in justified cases may this time limit be extended by a further thirty (30) days, but not more than twice. Hence, by this amendment the judges shall have the possibility to extend the time-limit for drafting the judgement for a maximum of ninety (90) days. Such an amended provision may motivate the judges to draft their judgements more rapidly.
One last amendment to mention refers to the situation when a judge (or a panel of judges) has/have wrongfully mentioned in the judgement the legal deadline for challenging the judgement. The amended provisions of the RCPC explicitly provide that if the party follows the wrong indication in the judgement and challenged it outside the legal deadline, this will not be considered as a reason for dismissing the appeal.
We trust that these amendments are able to create a clearer and faster procedure for resolving cases pending in front of Romanian courts.