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Enforcement of Foreign Orders and Judgements in Romania

The court system in Romania is still to many a confusing impenetrable system. In the past the rules and regulations seem to have a mind of their own concerning enforcement which only the judges and a few practioners seem to fully understand.

Fortunately, with a more up to date approach and exposure of the legal system to the EU rules this is no longer the case which it was many years ago. Attempts have been made to improve the court buildings and amenities. The rules of court procedure (New Civil Procedure Code) have brought some procedures up to date and there is now greater knowledge and professionalism of the judges. Corruption is no longer as evident as it used to be. This together with the integration of Romania since 2007 into the European Union has meant that there has been a definite shift in the administration of justice and a more equitable administration of law with some certainty has evolved which we as lawyers in Romania can understand.

A number of difficulties do however still exist and need to be acknowledged and understood by practioners. Foreign practioners especially those from the United Kingdom and the United States for example do not understand why in Romania there appear to be constant adjournments and delays in making decisions by the courts. Why cannot a case not be adjourned for a period of days rather than the standard one month in Bucharest? It should be noted that in some courts where the lists are not so long then the period of adjournment can be shorter but this is often balanced out by there being less judges. This lack of judges can produces bizarre results. Recently we had the experience (admittedly in the vacation period) of a judge being assigned an urgent case) who then went on holiday for a month and the court would not allocate another judge to the case. Urgency did not figure very high in the priorities of the President of that court.

A major issue in respect of enforcing foreign judgments is that even if there are International Conventions on Recognition or European Directives or Regulations and enforcing them the Romanian courts may in some cases still require that the party wishing to enforce the judgement has to go through a procedure of recognition of the relevant foreign order. This means that evidence has to be produced to show that the foreign judgment was regularly obtained; the other party knew of the procedures and the judgement decision; the order is not contrary to public policy and that it is final. All very time consuming.

Should a foreign judgement or order need to be enforced even if the initial judgement or order is recognised any enforcement procedure obtained abroad may still have to go through a recognition procedure, but unnecessary delays can be eradicated. As non Romanian courts appear to quicker and more efficient in enforcement procedures the delays in Romania although legal can produce frustrations both for the foreign practioners and local counsel.

As a first step in the enforcement procedure it is necessary to have all the papers translated into Romanian and the translations legally authorised. If a foreign court procedure is being enforced consideration needs to be given as to whether or not the procedure will need to be explained to the Romanian judge. Some courts accept the procedure as is, whereas some judges require the steps to be clearly laid out and explained to them.

Unfortunately, often it is not possible to ascertain in advance what a judge will require. Should a judge require further information often without any ascertainable basis this can be very frustrating for the practioners involved. Romanian judges are often inclined to view all matters by Romanian law, procedure and rules rather than looking at the issues in relation to the particular case.

It is important therefore when trying to enforce a foreign judgement or decision in Romania to understand where that decision fits into the Romanian court procedure and rules. If the proper ground work is done and the papers are properly prepared then there should be no legal reason why the procedure should not proceed relatively easily. The procedure will not often however be as fast or as expeditious as the foreign practioner or client may like