Dragoș Călin (Judge at the Bucharest Court of Appeal and Co-President of the Romanian Judges' Forum Association)
The decisions of the Constitutional Court of Romania once again created a wave of requests for preliminary rulings at the CJEU. Currently there are ten such new referrals that the ordinary courts in Romania (Brașov Court of Appeal, Bucharest Court of Appeal, Bistrița First Instance Court) have submitted or are going to submit after drafting the decisions, under Article 267 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. In fact, one of the requests (case C-107/23 PPU, Lin) will be heard in an urgent preliminary ruling procedure, therefore, in a very short time, a solution is expected from the CJEU, as the pleadings are scheduled for 10 May 2023. Another reference for a preliminary ruling was dismissed in a peculiar manner, as a result of the admission by the High Court of Cassation and Justice – Criminal Division of the request to transfer the hearing of the case, the High Court noting the fear of a defendant, judged in several cases in which he has such a capacity, regarding the referral to the CJEU.
In the domestic cases in which these requests were submitted, the accused requested the application of the principle of the most favorable criminal law (lex mitior) in the situation where a decision of the Constitutional Court of Romania declared unconstitutional a legal provision (Article 155 par. (1) of the Romanian Criminal Code) regarding the interruption of the limitation period of criminal liability (Decision no. 358/2022). To do so, the Constitutional Court argued the passivity of the legislator, which did not intervene to bring the legal text into agreement with another decision of the Constitutional Court, issued four years earlier (Decision no. 297/2018). During that time the case law of the common courts formed and attempted to interpret the existing in law in accordance with the Constitutional Court’s decision, the practical consequence of reducing to half the limitation period for all criminal acts for which a final judgment of conviction was not issued prior to the first decision of the Constitutional Court and of terminating the criminal proceedings against the accused in question.Continue reading “Once again on the rule of law in Romania. The risk that thousands of defendants would not face criminal liability: a new wave of requests preliminary rulings at the CJEU”