Company LawDispute 8. April 2020

Romania: Is there a risk for companies to be exposed to criminal investigations for non-complying with the measures implemented by the authorities?

8. April 2020
Ștefan Botezatu
act legal Romania


Following the accelerated spread of COVID-19, the President of Romania declared the state of emergency for a period of 30 days as of 16 March 2020. According to the latest press statements this will most likely be extended by an additional thirty days term.

One of the first measures announced by the Romanian prime minister was the tightening of the criminal laws regarding the offenses of spreading the infectious diseases. The purpose of adopting the new regulation was to enforce compliance with the measures taken by the authorities to prevent and stop the spread of COVID-19.

In recent weeks the national criminal investigation bodies have announced the opening of more than 200 criminal investigations.

The main crime pursued is the Preventing the fighting of diseases that incriminates the failure to comply with the measures taken for the prevention and combating of infectious and contagious diseases, if this resulted in the spreading of the disease.

Pursuant to Article 135 of the Criminal Code, the legal entities shall have criminal liability for offenses committed in relation to the performance of their object of activity or in their interest or their behalf. The criminal liability of legal entities does not exclude the criminal liability of the individual(s) participating in the commission of the same offense.

Which are the implications for companies who do not comply with obligations established by the authorities?

Although the main legislative changes concern the facts committed by natural persons who, for example, do not comply with the quarantine or isolation measures, the offense provided in Article 352 par. (2) of the Criminal Code also incriminates the acts committed by legal entities that do not comply with the obligations established by the authorities.

For a company to be liable, the following conditions must be met:

  1. The failure to comply with a pre-existing obligation or with measures ordered by public authorities in order to prevent or combat spreading of Coronavirus (such as the obligation of all companies to provide all the materials intended for personal hygiene, to disinfect frequently door locks and other exposed areas, like conference tables). The mandatory measures ordered by the authorities are established by the military ordinances or the emergency ordinances of the government . So far, the Ministry of Labor has issued a series of recommendations but not all of them mandatory for companies. The breach of the recommendations cannot trigger the criminal liability of legal entities;
  2. the breach of measures results in the infection of at least one person with COVID -19 virus.


The penalties applicable to legal entities breach the criminal law provisions include fines and other ancillary measures such as: the suspension of the activity or of one of the activities performed by the legal entity for a term between three months and three years or the closure of working points of the legal entity for a term between three months and three years or in worse case scenarios even the winding-up of the legal entities.

If a legal entity is held liable for Preventing the fighting of diseases as indicated in Article 352 par. (2) of the Criminal Code, the court can sentence the legal entity to a fine of up to 300,000 euros.

In case the preventing of fighting of diseases offence is committed involuntary, the fine can be established to a maximum of approx. 185,000 euros.

Also, the companies can be held liable for the offences regarding labor health and safety rules, such as the Failure to take labor health and safety measures if an employee is infected with COVID-19 following non-compliance with the labor protection measures. For instance if a company does not comply with the measures imposed by the authorities regarding the avoidance of the spread of COVID-19 and as a result of these non-compliance a client of the company is infected with COVID-19, the company will be criminally liable for  the crime of preventing the fighting of diseases. If this non-compliance has the consequence of creating an imminent danger for infecting the company’s employees with COVID-19 during the course of their professional activity, the company will be criminally liable also for the offense of Failure to take labor health and safety measures.


In order to avoid criminal investigations regarding this matter, the companies should develop a contingency and business continuity plan for an outbreak in the communities where their business operates, taking into consideration the guidance published by the World Health Organization.

Companies need to remain alerted and take note of and effectively implement the measures decided by the public authorities on an almost daily basis.

Ștefan Botezatu
act legal - Botezatu Estrade Partners
About the authors

Ștefan Botezatu

Managing Partner

Managing Partner and co-founder of act Botezatu Estrade Partners. He has strong expertise in energy regulatory matters covering electricity and gas trading, gas and electricity supply and distribution and production, as well as ancillary services including e-mobility and development of infrastructure for electric vehicles. Throughout his legal career of over 21 years, he has advised an impressive number of high-profile clients active in various business sectors in CEE/SEE and Asia. He is an excellent closer and forward thinker. Stefan is a 'sharp, knowledgeable, pragmatic and efficient lawyer', recognised for his work in competition cases concerning the energy sector. He has extensive experience in Energy, Dispute Resolution, Corporate M&A, Competition and Infrastructure Transactions. Expert in disputes and regulatory matters covering electricity and gas trading, supply and distribution and ancillary services. He has represented important companies in energy arbitration files against State owned entities, as well as in sector-specific disputes against the National Regulatory Authority for Energy and companies from the energy and retail sector in antitrust proceedings against the Competition Council. He is coordinating the White-Collar crimes practice and has been exposed to several cross-border fraud investigation matters initiated based on the FCPA and UK bribery act. Stefan`s expertise also covers handling high profile criminal cases and providing crime prevention legal advice, as well as acting in complex business crime litigation. He has an excellent record of successful outcomes for the firm’s clients and establishing favourable precedents in a variety of areas, with a special focus on criminal law matters in the energy sector.

Laura Estrade


Expert in energy regulatory and M&A with special focus on and impressive track record in energy sector business transfers, joint ventures, sophisticated M&A transactions, mergers and spin-offs and unbundling matters. Assistance in energy related litigation files against minority shareholders, the National Energy Regulatory Authority and management in companies active in the energy sector.

About act legal Romania - Botezatu Estrade Partners:

Superior quality, competitive service by yielding small teams oriented solutions tailored to the specific needs of clients.

Botezatu Estrade Partners