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The Romanian Constitutional Court's Relationship with the Ordinary Courts: What Are Some of the Causes of Its High Caseload?

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For more content, see Review of Socialist Law.

This article examines the recent high caseload of the Romanian Constitutional Court from a comparative perspective. In investigating possible causes of this phenomenon, the author has created several aggregated data sets based on the primary data available on the website of the Romanian Constitutional Court (over 20,000 referrals since 1992) and has examined the following hypotheses, most of which concern relations between the Constitutional Court and the ordinary courts: automatic suspension of proceedings as a delaying tactic, the ordinary courts as a filter, and the possibility of mass litigation as a storm flood caused by the strict ex nunc effects of the decisions of the Constitutional Court. The author has concluded that, while mass litigation is a substantial factor (responsible for three-quarters of the caseload in 2009), there was an underlying upward trend that can be explained by other causes. The available data are not particularly conclusive, but a recent legislative amendment could—in the near future—provide a test of the 'automatic suspension as a delaying tactic' hypothesis.The author also has evaluated the extent to which the Court may have been overwhelmed by the number of cases. Surprisingly, the Court has adjusted rather well to the exponential increase in its caseload since it was established in 1992. While its backlog has increased, the lower number of referrals submitted in 2010 and 2011 should relieve part of the pressure.Furthermore, the author assesses whether key cases involving politicians have been delayed by the Court. The available data seem to indicate that such cases are not being excessively delayed.


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