Trust. Efficiency. Accountability. These are the pillars of a strong, independent, and effective judicial system.
For over a decade the World Bank has worked with the government of Romania to build an independent and strong judiciary system operating on the principles of impartiality and transparency – helping to implement new legislation, reform existing laws, and improve both the capacity of staff working in the judiciary system and the environment in which they work.
The ongoing Romania Judicial Reform Project is an important part of this cooperation. The €110 million, World Bank-supported project has helped institute sorely-needed changes to Romania’s judicial system, including the introduction of measures to improve efficiency, capacity building initiatives, and the rehabilitation of key legal institutions.
“Before, three to four judges were working in very small offices, with hardly enough room for files. Now it is one judge per large office,” says Daniel Argesanu, a judge in the Romanian city of Pitesti.
In all, 18 court buildings have been rehabilitated or built from the ground up during this project, which aims at better aligning the country with European and international standards of justice.
The project has also assisted the Romanian authorities in revising and enacting new civil and criminal codes, preparing impact assessments for four codes, and drafting an insolvency code.
“[The new insolvency code] was necessary because many of the former laws were outdated,” says Marian Badescu, a civil law attorney in Romania’s capital, Bucharest.
“For instance, decisions could be challenged, but only within the creditor assembly and only afterwards challenged by the judge. This was confusing. The new law allows you to challenge the judge directly,” Badescu says.
In addition to such structural and administrative changes, the Judicial Reform Project has provided training in management techniques to various institutions of Romania’s broader justice system. A new e-learning platform was developed and deployed within the National Institute of Magistracy and the National School of Clerks, with more than 1200 employees trained under this system.
Combined, these initiatives are helping bring Romania’s entire judicial system in line with international standards. Moreover, these actions are building trust in the courts among its constituency – the most important pillar of all.