In the accomplishment of the act of justice, the work of the court clerks is a real support for magistrates, their competence and the correct fulfilment of their tasks playing an important role in the proper carrying out of the entire activity of law courts.
The Romanian court clerk draws up many procedural documents, contributing materially to the prompt solving of the cases judged by law courts, but he/she is also a person the public comes into contact with, which is important for the creation of the justice image.
Until recently, there was a summary regulation regarding the court clerk office, which was not in line with the importance of its role in the justice rendering process and which did not constitute a status of the Romanian court clerk.
Thus, the Law no. 92/1992 for the judicial organisation included only a few general provisions regarding the activity of the court clerk and the other specialised auxiliary personnel employed by law courts and prosecutor’s offices. These duties were detailed within the framework of Interior Regulations of Courts and prosecutor’s offices.
The same law included a few provisions regarding the rights and obligations of the specialised auxiliary personnel, without any differentiation of the personnel categories as far as their specialisation is concerned, only stating that they benefit from all the rights granted by the applicable legislation to employees in budgetary units, as well as free medical care.
The appointment of a court clerk was made by the chairman of the court of appeal or by the general prosecutor of the prosecutor’s office under the court of appeal in the circumscription of which the court clerk was to carry out his/her activity, except for judiciary executors and chief accountants, who were appointed by order of the ministry of justice. The specialised auxiliary personnel was instructed and trained according to the regulation approved by the ministry of justice, and until 1 December 2000 there was no school providing training for such personnel.
In the context of the justice reform undertaken in Romania, and the more and more substantial changes made in the field in Europe, the enhancement of the role of court clerks in the activity of the law courts became a necessity and a solution to improve the quality of the judicial act and to avoid the overburdening of judges. Thus, the need appeared to create a statute of the court clerk, which would regulate all the aspects related to the exercise of this profession.
Currently, the court clerk profession is regulated by the Law no. 567/2004 regarding the statute of the auxiliary personnel working in law courts and prosecutor’s offices and of the personnel working within National Institute of Forensic Expertise, as further amended, and the Law no. 304/2004 regarding the judicial organisation, the provisions of which were detailed by the rules and regulations of the law courts and prosecutor’s offices functioning under such courts.
The Law no. 567/2004 is the first regulatory document regarding the status of the court clerk in Romania. The aim of this law is to create a model of status of the court clerk in keeping with the European standards regarding the exercise of this profession, to avoid the overburdening of judges by passing certain duties from judges to court clerks, and to improve the image of justice and to increase its efficiency by the revaluation of the court clerks’ activity.
The Law no. 567/2004 was amended by the Law no. 17/2006 and by the Emergency Government Ordinance no. 100/2007 for the amendment and supplementing of some regulatory documents in the field of justice, by Emergency Government Ordinance no. 195/2008 for the amendment and supplementing of some regulatory documents in the field of justice, by Law no. 263/2010 regarding the unified public pension system, by Law no. 156/2011 for the amendment and supplementing of Government Ordinance no. 75/2000 and of Law no.567/2004, and by Law no.130/2015 for supplementing of Law no. 567/2004.
Pursuant to the provisions of the Law no. 567/2004, as further amended, the auxiliary personnel working in law courts and prosecutor’s offices is made of:
– (session) court clerks;
– statistician court clerks;
– documentary court clerks;
– archivist court clerks;
– record keeping court clerks;
– IT specialist.
Concurrently, the body of court clerks is made of clerks with higher legal education and clerks with high-school education.
The staff who deal with specialized auxiliary forensics functions consists of technicians, carpenters secretaries of forensic expertise laboratory.
Court clerks recruitment
Court clerks are usually recruited through the National School of Clerks, set up by the Government decision no. 425/1999, under the name Training Centre for Court Clerks and the Other Specialised Auxiliary Personnel, which started functioning at the end of the year 2000, the name of National School of Court Clerks which it currently bears being conferred to it in 2004, by the above-mentioned law.
The law allows the organisation of contests for the direct occupation of the vacant court clerk offices, contests organised by courts of appeal or the prosecutor’s offices under the courts of appeal, or by the High Court of Cassation and Justice, by its prosecutor’s office or by the National Anticorruption Directorate, but only if the carrying out of the activity is seriously affected by the large number of vacant offices.
The archivist court clerks and the record keeping court clerks that promote such contests will perform an internship with a duration of two months training organized by the NSC.
A person who fulfils the following requirements can be appointed as a court clerk:
– is a Romanian citizen, has the domicile in Romania and full exercise capacity;
– does not have a criminal record, no tax record and a good reputation;
– speaks Romanian;
– is medically able to hold the office;
– has higher legal education or high-school education, PC or typing skills;
– graduated National School of Clerks.
Prior to starting exercising their function, the specialised auxiliary personnel take an oath before the head of the law court or the prosecutor’s office where they are appointed.
The specialised auxiliary personnel of the law courts and prosecutor’s offices hired for the first time after graduating their studies, except for the graduates who obtained at the final examinations an average grade of at least 7, are considered beginners for a period of 6 months, being permanently appointed as holder of the office based on an examination. The failure to pass the examination entails the dismissal of the candidate as being professionally non-qualified.
The promotion of court clerks to executive offices
The promotion of court clerks to executive offices is made by contest or examination, to the immediately superior position.
The promotion to management positions – first court clerk, court clerk in chief, court clerk department head or chief computer specialist competition is performed through professional training and managerial skills verification contest. The contest is organized by the courts of appeal, the prosecutor’s offices under the courts of appeal, or by the High Court of Cassation and Justice or its prosecutor’s office or by National Anticorruption Direction, according to the regulation approved by Superior Council of Magistracy, taking into account the following criteria:
– a length of service as court clerk of at least 3 years, respectively IT clerk. A length of service as court clerk of at least 6 months is required for the clerks with higher legal education;
– exceptional professional activity, assessed with “very well” for the last 3 years, respectively for the last 6 months;
The appointment as first court clerk or court clerk in chief is for a period of five years,, with the possibility of reappointment, by decision of the President of the Court of appeal or of the General Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Court of appeal.
The suspension of the specialized auxiliary personnel
The suspension of the specialized auxiliary personnel can be ordered in the following circumstances:
– when he/she has a psychical disorder that prevents him/her to exercise her duties properly;
– in case of serious misconduct, for the duration of the preliminary investigations.
The removal of the specialized auxiliary personnel
The removal of the specialized auxiliary personnel can be ordered in the following circumstances:
– retirement, according to the law;
– the acknowledgement of a lack of adequate vocational training or, as the case may be, the improper performance of the duties specific to the management position;
– the failure to fulfil any of the requirements for the appointment;
– as a disciplinary sanction;
– final conviction for committing a criminal offence.
Court clerks can be delegated or seconded under the law.
The specialised auxiliary personnel’ rights
The main rights of the Romanian specialized auxiliary personnel are:
– the right to receive a wage according to their position and the level of the court or prosecutor’s office where they carry out their activity;
– the right of association into trade unions or professional organisations;
– the right to strike, according to the law;
– the right to improve their vocational training on a continuous basis;
– the right to an annual vacation of 30 working days;
– the right to unpaid leaves, for studies or other events, as well as to sick leaves, according to the law;
– free medical care, drugs and prostheses for the clerk and his/her family, with the observance of the legal provisions regarding the payment of the contribution to health insurances;
– the right to an allocation of home service if the clerk, his wife/her husband or the dependent children, don’t benefit from personal property home in the city where he/she is carrying out his/her activities or if a home was not assigned to him/her by local public administration authorities;