The Supreme Court clarifies the legal nature of the decisions of the local council approving a zonal urban plan. Consequences regarding the entry into force of decisions approving the zonal urban plans and any court appeals on the same
On 28 June 2021, the Romanian Supreme Court ("Supreme Court") has admitted an appeal in the interests of the law (in Romanian "recurs in interesul legii"), clarifying a legal issue which has raised various interpretation difficulties for the Romanian courts of law, namely:
If the decision of the local council ("DLC") approving a zonal urban plan ("PUZ") is an administrative deed of individual or normative nature?
Thus, by Decision no. 12 dated 28 June 2021, rendered in case file no. 1133/1/2021, (the “Decision”) the Supreme Court ruled that "the decision of the local council approving a PUZ represents a normative administrative deed".
The qualification of the DLC by which a PUZ is approved as a normative administrative deed, mainly entails the following consequences:
→ The normative administrative deed enters into force on the day the deed is made publicly available, while the individual administrative deed enters into force from the date of its communication to the persons to whom they are addressed.
→ As opposed to the individual administrative deeds, the normative administrative deeds cannot be subject to an objection on the grounds of illegality.
Prior to the Decision, certain Romanian Courts of law, qualifying the DLC for PUZ approval as an individual administrative deed, have admitted the exception of illegality regarding the DLC for PUZ approval. Consequently, the main claim of the dispute where the exception of illegality was raised, was settled without taking into account the DLC’s provisions, the illegality of which was established.
After the Decision becomes mandatory, the judicial review of DLC for PUZ approval shall be exercised by the administrative Courts of Law in the context of actions for annulment, as per Law No. 554/2004 on the Administrative Disputes and the exception of illegality regarding these DLC for PUZ approval shall no longer be approved by the Courts of Law.
→ As regards the individual administrative deeds, Law No. 554/2004 provides a 30 (thirty) days term from the communication of the deed for filing the preliminary complaint, while in the case of normative administrative deeds, the preliminary complaint can be filed at any time.
However, given that Law No. 350/2001 on Town Planning and Urbanism provides a statute of limitation of 5 years for the right to appeal the decision for urbanism documentation approval (applicable also in the case of DCL approving a PUZ), the rule on the possibility of appealing the normative administrative deeds at any time does not apply in this case. Consequently, the preliminary complaint against DLC approving a PUZ also have to be filed within the 5-year term mentioned above.
The decision issued by the Supreme Court has not been “motivated” so far and its provisions will become mandatory starting with the date of its publication in the Official Gazette of Romania, within 15 days after the “motivation”.
 Note should be made that as per Romanian law, motivation of a court decision is a subsequent step after the issuance of the solution in a particular file. Therefore, after the solution (i.e., of admission or dismissal of a claim) is issued by the court, there is a 30 days recommended term for the judges to issue the arguments which support the relevant solution.