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The Recuperation of Communist Confiscated Property

by Vlad Cuc

The Romanian Law stipulates that property illegally confiscated by the Communist Regime in Romania, in the period between March 6th 1945 and December 22nd 1989, shall be physically returned or an equivalent value shall be paid, in the case where restitution in nature is not possible.

The following assets shall be restituted:
– land, with or without constructions;
– mobile assets which became non-mobile through incorporation in buildings;
– machinery and installation confiscated by the State or other legal entities at the same with the building, if not already replaced or destroyed.

Buildings or land forcefully confiscated shall be restituted in nature in the state they were at the time when the restitution request was made, without any encumbrances, no matter in whose possession they might be in. For the cases where the constructions where partially or totally demolished, the land and remaining constructions shall be restituted in its nature, while for demolished buildings and occupied land, reparatory measures shall be granted through equivalent.
The procedure to be applied in order to recuperate confiscated property included as a first step a notification sent to the respective authority.

The term for this notification was prolonged more than once, until the end of 2005 (for providing extra proof of ownership for earlier notifications).

Persons who have exceeded the legal time limitation for the notification could start a “common law procedure”, respectively sue the Romanian authority. This procedure will have to be legally based on the dispositions of the Romanian Civil Code, requesting the right to legally own the property.

Because of the lack of unitary interpretation of these proceedings, Romania’s State Attorney General has filed Appeal “in the interest of the Law”, in an effort to unify the practice of the Romanian Courts in the matter. The Sections of the High Court of Cassation and Justice have emitted a Decision, establishing the special law no. 10/2001 (the one establishing the time limitation for the notification) as having priority over the general dispositions of the Code.
As a result, any request for restitution of properties filed on the basis of the provisions of the common law, shall be denied as inadmissible, with the exception of decisions not limiting another ownership the “security of legal reports”.
Although this Decision of the High Court of Cassation and Justice can be considered vague, the general interpretation is that notifications exceeding the time limitations as mentioned above will indeed be denied by Courts in the country, numerous Decisions having been already emitted per this interpretation.