On 26 November 2019, Law no. 230/2019 on the approval of Emergency Ordinance no. 23/2019 for the supplementing of the National Education Law no. 1/2011 (Education Law), the establishment of waivers and the extension of certain deadlines (Law 230/2019) was published in the Official Gazette.
The main change set forth under Law 230/2019 is an express regulation of the legal entity responsible of obtaining the required fire permit for the operation of educational institutions. The new provisions aim to provide clarity, given the current terminological ambiguity, and shall enter into force on 29 November 2019.
Under Romanian fire safety regulations, buildings where educational activities are operated have to be authorised from a fire safety perspective. However, the current provisions have led to diverging interpretations and court decisions regarding the legal entity responsible of obtaining the fire permit, specifically if the educational institution is not the legal owner of the operated building. In such cases and based on a confusing terminology, the courts have found either (i) the educational institution or (ii) the local public administration authorities / owner of the building responsible for obtaining the fire permit, each entity falling partially under the notion of “beneficiary” or “administrator” of such buildings.
The new provisions expressly set forth that the local public administration authorities and, respectively, the owners of the buildings where educational activities take place are responsible of ensuring the fulfilment of the operational requirements, including obtaining and maintaining the health authorisation (Romanian: autorizatie sanitara de functionare) and the fire permit.
Thus, Law 230/2019 clarifies the diverging interpretations mentioned above, as the new regulations shall supersede any contrasting provisions from their entry into force on 29 November 2019.
As they do not provide any interdictions in this respect, the new provisions should not impact on the parties’ possibility of agreeing a different allocation of responsibility through a contractual agreement, most likely under the lease agreement concluded for the premises with the educational institution.
However, given the regulatory regime of the fire safety provisions, the party obligated by the law to obtain the required fire permit (i.e. the local public administration authority or owner of the building) will be held directly liable by the sanctioning authorities. In turn, based on an appropriate contractual mechanism, the party mentioned above should be able to recover its damages from the educational institution that uses the premises.