UPDATE: Legal Research in Moldova

By Ecaterina Eriju and Elena Croitor

Ecaterina Erjiu holds the LLM degree from Saint Louis University (Saint Louis, USA) and worked as a lecturer at the Law Department of Moldova State University (2004-2008).

Elena Croitor holds a Ph.D. of Law and is a former lecturer at the Law Department of Moldova State University (2005-2019).

Published November/December 2020

(Previously updated by Mariana Harjevschi and Svetlana Andritchi in February 2006; by Mriana Harjeschi in March 2010; and by Mariana Harjevschi and Ecaterina Eriju in April 2012)

See the Archive Version!

1. Moldovan Legal System

The Moldovan Legal system, as any legal system, presents a dynamic and very complex body of legal materials and institutions. While a detailed examination of the Moldovan legal system would require more focus on its historical roots and development as well as more attention to particular regulations and legal institutions, the purpose of this article is to provide a short overview of the main legal institutions and regulations. Our goal is to provide initial information about the Moldovan legal system which can efficiently help in legal research. The following issues are to be touched upon: the structure of the government (main authorities and separation of powers), the constitutional court and the judicial system, the classification of law sources and legal education. It should be noted that the article focuses selectively on legal information systems with no pretension of being exhaustive.

The electronic legal environment in Moldova has made significant progress in the last decade, although its development is a continuous process. And even though an open-access legal database is available, printed resources are still reliable and accurate sources for performing legal research. The present article emphasizes the primary legal documents and provides an insight into secondary legal materials. All citations include legal materials, written in Romanian and Russian, as no authorized translations in foreign languages are publicly available.

2. The Historical Roots of the Moldovan Legal System

Historically, the Moldovan legal system has been categorized as a legal system of the civil law family. Geographic reasons also lead one to note that Moldova’s legal system should fall within the civil law family, mixed with Germanic features. However, during Soviet times the Moldovan legal system was adjusted to the Soviet Union’s legal norms, representing an overlap of the Soviet and Continental legal systems. Beginning with 1990, the legal system was reformed in order to harmonize it, following the national historical traditions and the European legal models.

On July 28, 1994, the Moldovan Parliament approved a new Constitution, declaring Moldova a Republic and annunciating its enduring neutrality. The document proclaimed the Republic of Moldova as an independent state and pronounced its commitment to democracy. Moreover, in 2003, the new Moldovan Civil Code, Penal Code, Code of Civil Procedure, and Code of Criminal Procedure were adopted, and those dated in Soviet times were repealed. Accordingly, the entire legal system underwent major changes.

Currently, the judicial system is divided into three branches: the ordinary Courts, the Courts of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Justice. Correspondingly, appeals and recourses are examined by the Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Justice. In previous years, the Supreme Court of Justice selectively examined only the judicial cases which went through a complex formal procedure. Nowadays, the number of cases that can potentially be examined by the Supreme Court of Justice has significantly increased. This tremendously changed and expanded the petitioner’s rights.

3. Moldovan Constitution and Constitutional Jurisdiction

The Constitution of the Republic of Moldova is the supreme law for the system of Moldovan legislation. No laws, other legal acts, or regulations in contradiction with the provisions of the Constitution may have any legal power. Such legal hierarchy assumes the subordination of normative acts of a lower level to normative acts of a higher level and, ultimately, to the Constitution as the normative act of the highest legal power. All constitutional amendments have to pass a prolonged and specifically defined legislative process, the Constitution’s supremacy being guaranteed by the Constitutional Court.

Constitutia Republicii Moldova [The Constitution of the Republic of Moldova] was adopted on July 29th, 1994 and published in the 1st Monitorul Oficial (Official Gazette), on August 12, 1994. The latest update of the Constitution was published in Monitorul Oficial 467-479 on 12/14/2018.

The Constitutional Court is the sole and highest authority of constitutional jurisdiction in Moldova. It is a unique judicial body, independent from the executive, legislative and judiciary powers. It deals exclusively with constitutionality issues of the law (the judicial review). The Constitutional Court consists of six judges nominated for a six-year term. Two judges are appointed by the Parliament, two by the Government, and two by the Supreme Council of Magistracy.

4. The Executive Power

4.1. The President

The President of the Republic of Moldova is the representative of the executive power with basic supervisory and guarantor functions. The President is directly elected by the citizens of the Republic of Moldova for a four-year term and is eligible for one subsequent re-election. In relation to the legislative branch of government, his powers include the promulgation of laws and the suspension of the promulgation, when a re-examination of the law is requested. Also, the President, following consultations with parliamentary fractions, is responsible for the nomination of the Prime Minister. Based on a vote of confidence, granted by the Parliament to the Prime Minister and their program, the President of the Republic of Moldova appoints the Government.

Further roles include the power to conduct negotiations and conclude international treaties on behalf of the Republic of Moldova, accrediting official representatives of Moldova in other countries, and decreeing diplomatic missions abroad, among others. In relation to the judicial branch, the main function of the President is to appoint the judges, following the proposal of the Supreme Council of Magistracy.

The President of the Republic of Moldova is elected by freely expressed, universal, equal, direct, and secret suffrage. The candidate obtaining at least half the votes cast in the presidential election shall be proclaimed as the new President. If, after the first ballot no candidate will have obtained the above-mentioned majority of votes, a second ballot shall be held to choose from the two candidates with the most votes. On condition that the number of the votes cast for him/her is bigger than the number of the votes cast against him/her, the candidate obtaining most of the votes in the second ballot shall be proclaimed as the new President.

4.2. Government

In addition to the President, the executive authority is represented by the Government (the Cabinet of Ministers). The Government is the central authority of the executive branch. The role of the Government is to carry out the domestic and foreign policy of the State and to apply general control over the work of public administration. The Government consists of a Prime Minister, a first vice-prime-minister, vice-prime-ministers, of ministries and other members as determined by organic law. The President of the Republic of Moldova, after consulting parliamentary factions designates a nominee for the post of Prime Minister. The candidate for the prime minister post, within 15 days, shall request the Parliament’s vote of confidence for their program of activity (manifesto) and the structure of the Government. The President of the Republic of Moldova, based on the vote of confidence expressed by Parliament, will appoint the Government. The Government shall enter into the exercise of its powers on the very day of taking the oath by its members before the President of the Republic of Moldova.

The following ministries represent the state’s specialized agencies: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Development and Environment, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure, Ministry of Education, Culture and Research, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Protection.

5. The Legislative Power

The Moldovan Parliament is a unicameral assembly, considered the supreme representative authority of the people and the sole legislative body of the state. It consists of 101 members. The members of the Parliament are elected by universal suffrage for a four-year term. The Parliament may also meet in extraordinary or special sessions at the specific request of the President of the Republic of Moldova, of the President of Parliament or a third of its members.

Parliamentary leadership consists of a chair and several deputy chairs elected by the members of Parliament. The work of Parliament is carried out by eleven permanent committees, which have purview in the following areas: public administration; public finance control, agriculture and food industry; culture, education, research, youth, sport, and mass media; human rights and interethnic relations; economy, budget, and finance; law, appointments, and immunities; environment and regional development; foreign policy and European integration; social protection, health, and family; national security, defense, and public order.

The structure, organization, and functioning of the Parliament are set out by its Internal Rules. The Moldovan Parliament consists of a permanent bureau, parliamentary fractions and commissions sharing the following powers: to pass laws, decisions and motions; to declare the holding of referendums; to provide legislative interpretations and ensure the legislative unity of regulations throughout the country; to approve the main directions of the state’s internal and external policy; to approve the state’s military doctrine; to exercise parliamentary control over executive power in the ways and within the limits provided for by the Constitution; to ratify, denounce, suspend and abrogate the action of the international treaties concluded by the Republic of Moldova; to approve and control the national budget; to supervise and control the allocation of state loans, the aid granted to foreign countries, as well as to elect and nominate state officials as foreseen by law; to approve the orders, medals and awards of the Republic of Moldova; to declare partial or general mobilization of the armed forces; to declare the state of national emergency, martial law, and war; to initiate investigations and hearings concerning any matters touching upon the interests of society, to suspend the activity of local institutions of public administration under the law, etc.

6. The Judicial Power

6.1. Supreme Court

The judicial authority in Moldova is exercised through the court system, regulated by the Constitution and specific laws. According to the actual legislation on the judicial system, justice is carried out by the following judicial institutions: the Supreme Court of Justice, the Courts of Appeal, and the first-instance Courts. In compliance with the law, for separate categories of proceedings, specialized courts (economic, military, etc.) may operate.

The Supreme Court of Justice is the highest court of law which, besides its direct jurisdictional functions, ensures the correct and unitary implementation of the law by all courts of law in Moldova. The organization and functioning of the Supreme Court of Justice are regulated by a special Law on the Supreme Court of Justice.

The official periodical published by the Supreme Court of Justice is The Supreme Court Bulletin (Buletinul Curtii Supreme), which ordinarily appears every month.

6.2. Courts of Appeal

The Courts of Appeal examine all the appeals and the majority of ordinary recourses in both civil and criminal cases. For the appeals and first-degree recourses the Courts of Appeal are the highest jurisdiction instance. However, the Courts of Appeals may serve as first instance courts for certain cases, as provided by law.

6.3. First Instance Courts

The first instance Courts operate in the sectors (catchment areas) established by the Parliament under the recommendations of the Supreme Council of Magistracy. The first instance courts are ordinary courts that have a general jurisdiction over all cases unless otherwise is provided by law.

On April 1st, 2017, the two existing specialized courts, the Military Court and the District Commercial Court, have ceased to operate. According to a new law, specialized judges are to replace the previous specialized courts of law. Based on the same law, the Supreme Council of Magistracy has adopted the decision nr. 555/25 of 11/27/2018 on the specialization of the Chisinau district court offices in insolvency, civil, criminal, contraventions, the activity of the criminal investigation judge, and legal charges matters. Currently, this is the only specialized court in the Republic of Moldova.

6.4. The Prosecutor’s Office

The Prosecutor's Office is an autonomous public institution, within the judiciary, which in criminal proceedings and other procedures determined by law, contributes towards the respect for the rule of law, the realization of justice, and the protection of the person’s and society ‘s legal rights and interests. The Prosecutor's Office represents an organic system, consisting of the General Prosecutor’s Office, specialized prosecutor’s offices, and territorial prosecutor’s offices.

7. Other Authorities

The Information and Security Service is a governmental agency responsible for safeguarding the state’s security. It is a centralized state authority subjected to parliamentary control. The Information and Security Service activity is coordinated by the President of the Republic of Moldova, within the limits provided by the law. Upon request, the Information and Security Service is bound to present activity reports to the President of the Republic of Moldova, to the Government, and the Parliament.

The Police is a specialized public institution, subordinated to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, whose mission is to protect the persons’ fundamental rights and freedoms by maintaining, ensuring, and restoring the public order and safety, and by preventing, investigating and uncovering the crimes and contraventions.

The Court of Accounts is the supreme audit institution of the Republic of Moldova, empowered to control the formation, administration, and use of the financial public resources and of the public patrimony. It is composed of seven members. The President of the Court of Accounts is appointed by the Parliament for a five-year term, based on the proposal submitted by the President of Parliament. Annually, the Court of Accounts submits to the Parliament the report on the administration and utilization of the financial public resources. The report shall present, in a generalized, manner the analysis of the conclusions coming from all audit activities performed throughout the preceding year.

8. Sources of Law

8.1. Primary Sources

Statutory laws are created by the Parliament, which is the sole (unicameral) body endowed with the powers to pass them. The law system is a hierarchic structure, with the Constitution - at the top, followed by the codes, organic and ordinary laws, and with the executive power regulatory acts - at the bottom. According to their importance and legal force, the laws are divided into three categories, as follows: the constitutional laws, the organic and ordinary laws.

During 1960-1990 laws and other legal acts were published in an official journal called Vestile Sovietului Suprem RSS Moldovenesti, issued by the supreme legislative authority Sovietul Suprem. After Moldova proclaimed its independence, all Moldova’s laws started to be published in Monitorul Parlamentului Republicii Moldova (since 1991 through July 1994). From August 1994 to the present day, the official gazette became Monitorul Oficial al Republicii Moldova (The Official Gazette of the Republic of Moldova), which is currently the main source of all legislative documents and is considered the major official publication. The Official Gazette is published in two parallel issues (Moldovan and Russian versions) by State Informational Agency - Moldpress and begins its numbering from August 1994. Issues are published on the base of passing a certain amount of enforced laws (e.g. weekly). The following structure is characteristic for all Official Gazette issues, even if it differs from one issue to another, according to the legislation that was enacted:

8.1.1. Codes

The entire law system is composed of the legal norms included in the enactments adopted by the Parliament. The enactments refer to laws (the three types of laws mentioned above) but also regulatory documents that are adopted by other entities rather than the Parliament. Such pieces of legislation can only be subordinate to laws.

Codification, in the civil law system, is a complex systematization of the unitary concept legal norms. It usually represents the integration, in a unitary system, of the most important norms from the same area of the legal system. All codes are published initially in the Official Gazette, with all updates continuing to be included, correspondingly, in later editions. Government agencies, state organizations or private companies can as well print the codes as separate publications. However, it is a must that those publications make references to the legal act published in the Official Gazette.

The following codes are currently applicable in the Republic of Moldova:

8.1.2. Commentaries

Constitutional Law

Criminal Law

Crimnal Procedure

Labor Law

8.1.3. Court Reports

The Moldovan legal system, similar to other civil law countries, does not recognize legal precedent as stare decisis. However, currently, the court reports are given more and more weight in the process of applying the legal rules, as it ensures a more uniform and prudent approach to the implementation of the national law.

Moreover, in 2012, an amendment of the Criminal Procedure Code has implemented a new procedural remedy - recourse in the interest of the law. It represents an extraordinary appeal, judged by the Supreme Court of Justice, to ensure uniform application of legal norms, previously differently interpreted by the inferior courts of law. The Supreme Court of Justice’s decision in these cases is beyond recall and does not influence on the previously adopted judgments. Deciziile Curtii Constitutionale [Constitutional Court Decisions]

The Constitutional Court used to annually publish the “Curtea Constitutionala: Culegere de hotariri si decizii" (Constitutional Court: Rulings and decisions) - a collection of judgments on the interpretation of the Constitution and the constitutionality of the inferior laws. The first volume was issued in 1998, with the reports commencing officially in 1995, February 23rd, when the Constitutional Court was founded. Court reports are compilations of judicially decided cases, the decisions, and reports on which were published simultaneously or previously in the Official Gazette. The cases are arranged according to court competencies or decisions’ significance. Below are the published compendia of Constitutional Court judgments and decisions:

All the judgments and decisions of the Constitutional Court are also available online. Deciziile Curtii Supreme de Justitie [Supreme Court of Justice Decisions]

“The Supreme Court of Justice Decisions” was an annual publication consisting of the most important judgments given by the Supreme Court of Justice. As a general rule, the decisions on lawsuits and those regarding the criminal cases were published separately. The following compendia were issued between 1999 and 2013:

The Supreme Court of Justice decisions on criminal cases and lawsuits are available online. Deciziile Curtii de Apel [Court of Appeal Decisions]

In 2003, according to the Law 191-XV of 05/08/2003, the judicial system was reorganized, the Court of Appeal (considered republican or national) was dissolved, and five new territorial courts were institutionalized – Chisinau Court of Appeal, Balti Court of Appeal, Bender Court of Appeal, Cahul Court of Appeal, Comrat Court of Appeal, and the specialized Curtea de Apel economica (Economic Court of Appeal). In 2012 the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova dissolved the Economic Court of Appeal, and in 2014 a similar decision was taken for the Bender Court of Appeal. No publications of the Courts of Appeal decisions have been issued after 2002. Hence, these are the published compendia of the Court of Appeal judgments:

The judgments and decisions adopted by the Chisinau Court of Appeal, Balti Court of Appeal, Cahul Court of Appeal, and Comrat Court of Appeal are available online. Resolutions and Decisions of the ECHR in Moldovan Law Cases

The harmonizing process of national legislation with European and international human rights standards has started when Moldova joined the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). This is when the ECHR case law, and particularly the Moldovan cases, begun to directly influence the judicial process in the Republic of Moldova.

The Government’s Agent is represents Moldova’s interest before the European Court of Human Rights. The Government’s Agent is appointed and dismissed by the Government based on the proposal made by the Minister of Justice. The Lawyers for Human Rights is a NGO whose mission is to promote international standards on human rights in Moldova, being orientated mainly towards the proper implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The following printed publications compile the resolutions and decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in Moldovan cases:

8.1.4. International Treaties

Tratate internationale la care Republica Moldova este parte” is the official publication that includes all treaties that Moldova has ratified. Since 1990 to the present day, the publication, which founders are the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Justice, has issued 43 volumes. All 43 volumes of the publication were officially printed by the MoldPress Agency. All the international and bilateral treaties signed and ratified by the Republic of Moldova are also available online, on the official Ministry of Justice website (the State Register of Legal Acts web page).

8.2. Secondary Sources

8.2.1. Law Reviews

Typically, the law schools, the State Departments, the private agencies and non-governmental organizations are the major institutions that publish law reviews. The most significant distinctions between them are in content, scope, and target audience. Based on the aforementioned criteria, in Moldova there are six categories of law reviews:

The online legal journals are yet to be considered an innovation for Moldova’s legal publishing activity. Aside from the reviews that have both printed and online versions, there is one legal journal that is exclusively published online, although it has also started a printed review. The Juridice Moldova website has a permanently renewed collection of legal publications on various matters, authored by scholars, students, Ph.D. candidates, professors, and practitioners. It’s a complex database of legal publications dedicated to subjects that approach the most important and actual problems in the law field.

The following reviews can be used while performing legal research (arranged according to Romanian language alphabet):

8.2.2. Indexes

These publications consist of two volumes and two supplements that were updated on January 1st, 2002. The first volume contains an index of several categories of normative acts: the laws and the decisions of the Parliament, the Government’s normative acts, the presidential decrees, etc. The second volume encompasses an index of all Constitutional Court decisions, Supreme Court of Justice decisions, and the International Treaties to which Moldova is a party. The first supplement is an updated version of the previous issues, dating from January 1st to May 16th, 2002. The second supplement represents an index of all laws adopted between May and October 2002 (this issue is missing from the LL).

9. Legal Education

The Moldovan legal education system is represented by both state and private institutions, which include secondary (colleges) and higher professional (institutes, universities) educational establishments.

The major state universities, such as Moldova State University at Chisinau, State University from Cahul, and the State University at Balti, have constituted their own law departments. Besides these, there are law departments or law faculties at private universities, such as the Free International University of Moldova, Moldova University of European Studies, University of Political and Economic Studies, The American University of Moldova, et al.

Students at both state and private institutions are enrolled based on their academic achievements during school years and the final state examination. Students can also enroll in a full-time or a part-time program. Following the Bologna system, legal studies last four years for students who hold a bachelor’s degree. There are also one-and-a-half or two-year programs for the master’s degree. Therewith, most of the universities are now implementing the Moodle learning platform. After graduation, candidates must pass the examinations before Examination Committees of the Attorneys Union of the Republic of Moldova or the National Institute of Justice in order to become a lawyer, prosecutor, or a judge.

The National Institute of Justice was establishedon November 9, 2007. It is a modern facility for training candidates for the positions of judge and prosecutor, and for continuous training of judges, prosecutors, and other actors who contribute to the administration of justice. Those who are striving to pursue an academic career can continue their education and scientific research at the postgraduate level with a doctorate.

10. Features of the Moldovan Legal Information System

The legal information system of Moldova has significantly developed. In June 2016 a new system, developed and supported by the Ministry of Justice, was launched. The new legal database (the State Register of Legal Acts) is to replace the old LEXDB that didn’t conform to the standards of an effective legal information system. LEXDB is still accessible and contains all the legal materials adopted or modified until May 31, 2019.

Although still developing, the new database is performing well, ensuring free and nonstop access to a whole range of legal acts, serving as primary sources of law in the Republic of Moldova. National and international law is now available in both Romanian and Russian languages. Compared to the previous LEXDB, the new State Register of Legal Acts is being constantly updated in accordance with all the publications of the Official Gazette. From the above-mentioned perspective, performing legal research in Moldova has become much easier compared to a few years ago, when the chaotic publication of the law, the inconsistency of the online version with the actual legal text and the bad performing search engine were great obstacles towards a thorough analysis of the Moldovan legal system.

The absence of academic law libraries and/or the poor choice of legal studies, books, guidelines, etc. negatively impacts the legal research in Moldova. All of this goes along with a shortage of law librarians and trained legal information specialists.

11. Legal Publishing Activity

Moldova’s laws, issued by the Parliament, are published weekly in the official journal called Monitorul Oficial (Official Gazette), which is printed in Romanian and Russian. Therefore, the primary print resources are a government concern, and their publication is handled by a State Agency. In addition to Monitorul Oficial, all codes are published separately by different publishing houses.

Statistically, a minimal number of doctrinal legal publications are published annually. Since 2000, the legal publishing industry has significantly evolved compared to previous years, but still could be characterized as inherently unpredictable. Of great concern are the lack of a uniform publication strategy and the almost complete absence of specialized legal publishing houses. Occasionally, ordinary publishing houses will publish legal books, but the lack of specialization has a negative impact on the needs of the legal research community.

The library collections are mainly represented by Romanian and Russian law publications. Even if they are of major interest in the theoretical approach of legal research, these secondary sources don’t have an impact on the law application process. The similarities between the Romanian and Russian legal institutions and those regulated by the Moldovan law contribute towards an efficient interpretation and comparison of the legal norms mentioned before. Nonetheless, the legal provisions themselves in these three countries are different; hence the researcher’s work is somewhat disrupted.

Universities remain the most important institutions that publish legal materials, since publishing at the law schools is a part of the academic activity. Thus, law schools, in accordance with the academic research policy, are publishing adequate textbooks and monographs to support legal study and legal inquiry. This generally occurs only in certain universities, where there is enough financial assistance to support scientific research. The Moldova State University, the Free International University, and the Police Academy are some of the best examples in this respect.

Compared to textbook and monograph publications, periodicals are seen in a more positive light. During the 1990s and later on, several professional publications were offered to the legal community: from Romania - Revista de Drept, Revista de drept privat, Revista de drept penal, Dreptul, Curierul Judiciar, et al.,and from Russia- Business i pravo, Pravo Zakon i pravo, Advocat, etc. Additionally, the major law faculties, or the universities they are a part of, publish their own law reviews, usually called Anale Stiintifice, issued periodically, in accordance with the schools’ policy or in relation to some important social or legal event.

Legal electronic publishing is still evolving, though important steps to its improvement were made. Thus, most of the law schools have online versions of their reviews. The other legal journals can be found online whether on their own website or on the official electronic page of one or several universities. As mentioned before, in Moldova there is only one online journal – Juridice Moldova – that regularly publishes legal studies authored by the most prominent scholars and legal practitioners from the Republic of Moldova. Additionally, the Practica Judiciara compartment of MoldLEX databaseoffers access to several legal journals from Moldova and Russia.

On the other hand, the legal literature addressed mainly to practitioners, being way more rewarding, is respectively more developed. This type of literature is published randomly by various publishers, but heavily used by the law community. Sporadic financial assistance is occasionally available for the legal publications, sponsored or edited by international organizations, such as the SOROS-Moldova Foundation, ABA ROLI, and others.

Despite the difficulties that arise, the legal publishing activity of secondary legal publications is passing an invigorating period since a range of publishing houses are striving to launch specialized collections in the law field (ex. Cartier Juridic), and specialized legal publishing houses, such asCartea Juridica, appear. Besides the quality, the content of literature and the overall publishing graphic is also remarkably improving.

12. Law Libraries

Specific to Moldova is the fact that there are generally no specific law libraries within law schools. Legal collections represent an integral part of whole library collections. With the financial assistance of the foreign or international organizations and with contributions from the teaching professors and the legal community, some of the law faculties have small specialized libraries, created solely for the use of the students and professors.

Academic libraries, both public and private, have neither uniform collection development policies, nor sufficient financial support. Accordingly, the scarcity of resources in these particular situations hampers effective legal research. As a result, this situation negatively affects the studying and teaching processes.

As mentioned before, the library collection of legal materials, especially secondary materials, is not well balanced or consistent. This situation has a specific corollary: Romanian literature is appropriate for Moldovan legal research, as both countries belong to the same civil law family, even though the legislation background is different, with exception to the enacted in 2003 the Moldovan Civil Code, Penal Code, Code of Civil Procedure, and Code of Criminal Procedure. The Russian literature is considered partially propitious because of historical bounds between the Moldovan and Russian legal systems, and as well due to the similarity of the primary legal sources and their practical interpretations. It should be mentioned that major law schools, which are concentrated mainly in state municipalities, are still not well-endowed with primary and secondary legal materials.

Unfortunately, in Moldova, law libraries within legal offices or legal institutions are poorly developed. Essentially, only state legal institutions (for instance the Parliament, the Supreme Court of Justice, etc.) are provided with a library and a legal information center, which are granting access to primary resources and reference books.

However, the situation may be improving. The Law School of Moldova State University has recently opened an independent Legal Information Center, separated from the Main Library, which has a comprehensive collection and is also equipped with computer facilities connected to legal databases.

The Parliamentary Library serves as an in-house reference library for Parliament members. The library was opened in 1978 with the mission of building a collection mainly of primary sources. Currently, it contains more than 11,400 titles. Traditionally, courts have their own law libraries with access to primary sources, including access to legal databases and digital sources. Concurrently, the Supreme Court of Justice’s website carries an electronic library providing downloadable secondary resources for all those interested in law enforcement matters.

At the beginning of the year 2000, the interest of the legal community in creating a specialized library in the law field gave rise to the opening of a Public Law Library, with financial assistance from the Moldova Soros Foundation and Legal Institute from Budapest. The library’s mission is to ensure that necessary legal information and documents are accessible to any person interested particularly in Moldovan law – practicing lawyers, law students from different educational institutions, state institution employees and other interested persons, providing them with the opportunity to not only make use of its extensive holdings of books and journals, but also to have access to the on-line and local legal databases and Internet information resources. The library’s informational and documentary policies are based on the principles of a public library: legal information for everyone and an academic library accessible for the legal community. Its target audience can be determined from the library’s name itself – the general public and the legal community.

The Public Law Library inter alia offers access to MoldLex, EBSCO, HeinOnline, Sintact.ro databases, which provide fundamental information for a complex legal research. In rural areas access to legal documents and data stands in stark contrast to the development seen in major Moldovan cities. No law collections can be offered to the public.

12.1. Law Librarians

In spite of significant improvement of the system, there is still a shortage of legal information specialists in Moldova. The deficiency of librarians with expertise in legal research makes the process of conducting legal research problematic. The development of the law library or of the law collection stands in direct relation to the balance between the financial resources provided for the law school and those granted to other faculties within the same university. Traditionally, library stacks are not open to the users and tend to function in a traditional way. This, respectively, tends to the negligence of the law library as an independent entity and minimizes its importance for the legal information system in general.

A significant action took place at the University Library of the Free International University of Moldova. In order to facilitate legal research, a legal and business reference librarian was appointed. This approach is considered a relatively new concept in Moldovan librarianship. In spite of the appeals of librarians dealing with legal information issues, an association of law librarians in Moldova has not yet been formed.

13. Access to Legal Information Electronically

Today, access to online legal resources is highly requested. Historically, it started with a big success in 2007, once the online bilingual legal-reference system called Registrul de Stat al Actelor Juridice a Republicii Moldova was implemented by the Ministry of Justice. The database included Moldova’s legislation and all of the international treaties Moldova has ratified. It was the most important decision-making tool for the whole legal community. In 2016 it was replaced by a new electronic State Register of Legal Acts, with the same content, yet more user- friendly interface and search engine.

The MoldLex is the official and most reliable legal database, with the only concern that the access to the legislation of the Republic of Moldova is fee-based.It is a more extensive and comprehensive database when compared to the actual State Register of the Legal Acts. It also includes the Supreme Court of Justice and the Courts of Appeal judgments. Additionally, it offers access to legal periodicals. The MoldLex database is a compendium of legal legislation since 1989, including codes and international treaties which Moldova joined, both in Romanian and Russian languages. This database includes the following information sections:

The database functions, in parallel, as an archive of the past laws and of the updated versions of legal documents. Also, each legal act includes the list of laws that have amended it. The entire database is classified according to the General Legal Qualifier.

The search can be made according to the following criteria:

The MoldLex Database has a compartment dedicated to the case law, called Practica Judiciara. It offers access to Moldova's legal practice and includes the following information sections:

The updating process is carried out weekly in an automatic mode, through the internet, and it is accessible on a paid basis.