Key facts of the case:
The plaintiffs SCP PROSOLVENŢA IPURL, SC TRUST AXA IPURL and SC GDF SUEZ ENERGY ROMÂNIA SA claimed that Government Decision no. 104/07.02.2002 concerning the transfer of electrical plants for heating from the state’s private property and from the property of S.C. Termoelectrica S.A. into the public property of local authorities and administration of local councils is not legal and violates the provisions of Law no. 213/1998 concerning public property and its legal regime. They claimed that Law 213/1998 expressly states the conditions for transferring public property which belongs to legal persons where the state is a share holder, and the GD unlawfully departs from these provisions. The application was based on the provisions of Article 4 of Law no. 554/2004 of the administrative contentious, which states that the legality of an administrative act (such as GD no. 104/2002 was) , regardless of the date it was issued, could be reviewed at any time during a trial, by way of an exception, ex officio or upon request of any party to the proceedings. The defendants, The Piteşti Local City Council, The Municipality of Piteşti and the Romanian Government, claimed that, on one hand, the applicants had no interest in sustaining the claim, as subsequently the property would simply return to the state, and, on the other hand, that the application was inadmissible. The Galaţi Court of Appeal granted the application and found that Government Decision no. 104/07.02.2002 violated the provisions of the Romanian Constitution, the bilateral agreements closed by Romania with EU Member States and Law no. 213/1998, in that it transferred property to local authorities without proper compensation to the legal person which had enjoyed it so far. The High Court of Cassation and Justice decided, however, that the application was inadmissible. It found that granting Article 4 applications indiscriminately, including to acts issued before Law 554/2004 came into force, would allow any person to question the legality of any administrative acts without any time limit, thus endangering the security of legal transactions and violating the principle of legal certainty.
Inasmuch as they are interpreted as allowing to review the legality of individual administrative acts issued prior to Law 554/2004, the provisions of Article 4 would violate the right to a fair trial provided for by Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights , as well as Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, by violating the principle of legal certainty, which is one of the fundamental elements of the rule of law.