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Claiming Damages – Torts in the Romanian legal system

More than 100 years of civil jurisprudence construed Articles 998 to 1003 in the Civil Code as a body of institutions related to the legal compensation for tortious acts. These acts are of wrongful nature either because they conflict with existing laws or with specific customary principles of conduct. Once these acts result in loss or injury to another person, property, or reputation, the injured party is entitled to seek compensation under a civil action for damages.   

When tortious acts form the constitutive elements of a crime, the injured party may seek compensation in addition to a criminal law conviction. In order to have standing for compensation in a criminal trial, the injured party has to declare that he or she seeks damages, thus playing the role of a civil party. Pressing criminal charges exempts the injured from paying stamp duties. However, one has to notice that only specific crimes such as insult, libel, battery, property trespass, et al. are left to the will of the injured. Criminal charges have to be brought within two months since the injured knew the identity of the perpetrator and damages are assesed by a criminal court. This option has to be carefully considered under an attorneys’ advice. Depending on grounds, acquittals may result on a refusal to rule on damages or even to grant them. Also, the criminal court’s assesment on the facts, the identity of the perpetrator and guilt has res iudicata authority over a civil court in any subsequent civil action.

If the injured does not or cannot seek a criminal law conviction, a civil action for damages can be promoted within the general three years statute of limitations. This time, a stamp duty has to be paid to the public treasury. Stamp duties are calculated in proportion to the amount sought for compensation and add to the attorney’s fee as to legal costs. Both are to be recovered by the plaintiff if the action is succesful.

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