Archive / News in the Legislation
Amendments to the Civil Proceedings Code
On October 18th 2017 the National Assembly adopted a Bill amending the Civil Proceedings Code (CPC), based on a joint draft bill created on the basis of the proposals submitted by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Volia, GERB, and Obedineni Patrioti.
Some of the significant changes in the civil proceedings regulation include:
With respect to the court fees charged
· On claims for the protection of property rights over immovable the amount of the court fee shall be calculated on the basis of one-fourth of the immovable’s tax evaluation.
· For several claims aiming at the protection of one and the same interest only one court fee shall be collected irrespective of the number of defendants.
· For actions incorporating several claims, which seek to protect several interests the court fee shall be calculated on the basis of the value of each of the claims.
· In enforcement proceedings the total amount of the fees cannot anymore exceed an amount calculated as a percent of the minimal wage. Once this upper limit is achieved, any requested for the undertaking of new enforcement actions shall be at the expenses of the creditor. In this respect, it is provided that the administrative fees on appeals of the actions of the enforcement agents shall not be included in the total of the fees.
These regulations aim to create additional guarantees for the access to justice for certain claims, as well as they are in favor of debtors with small amounts of the debt, whereas the amendments are motived by the long-lasting proceedings in which the costs significantly exceed the main receivables itself.
As regards to the cassation proceedings
One of the most significant amendments in the CPC is the widening of the grounds for admission of appeal before the cassation.
The grounds for admitting cases to cassation shall include cases which are resolved in contradiction with the acts of the Constitutional Court, the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg, or have a conflict with the case law of the Supreme Cassation Court, or the case law of the formerly unified Supreme Court.
In addition, the appeal instance decisions which are probably null or inadmissible, or which are obviously incorrect are provided as as admissible for cassation.
On the other hand, a matter solved in contradictory manner by the courts shall no longer be a ground for appeal.
For overcoming some contradictory understandings it is expressively provided that only the interpretation decisions of the Supreme Cassation Court constitute case law with mandatory character, rather than the practice on particular cases.
In regard to the regulation of the summoning
Due to the problems arising in the practice and the potential for abuse within the current regulation of the summoning through posting of notification, this procedure shall be exceptional only when the individual cannot be found after at least three visits within a one-month period, with an interval of one week between each of the visits, whereas one of the visits needs to be on non-working day.
After the visits and in case the individual does not appear to receive the papers or the summon the court will ex officio check the person’s registered address and if there is a discrepancy the court shall order new due summoning of the person on the permanent address.
In case that the person does not appear again summoning could be effected through its employer.
These regulations do not apply if the summoning official collects information from the manager of the condominium, from the mayor or otherwise that the person does not live on this address.
In the enforcement procedure the enforcement agent will appoint special representative of the debtor if established that the person does not have a permanent address.
As regards to the regulation of deadlines
Finally, as regards to the procedural deadlines it is provided that they shall be suspended during the national holidays and during the judicial vacations – 15th of July – 1st of September.
(Source: Official Gazette)
New Ordinance regarding the Industrial Property representatives
A new Ordinance for the Industrial Property Representatives (Decree of the Council of Ministers No. 161 of 04.08.2017, promulgated, State Gazette No. 64 of 08.08.2017) was adopted. The Ordinance regulates the profession of Industrial Property representatives as a regulated profession in accordance with Directive 2006/123/EU on services in the internal market and Directive 2005/36/EU on the recognition of professional qualifications. The Ordinance will enter into force as of 09.09.2017.
The changes introduced are the following. The professional qualification of an Industrial Property representative will be acquired only after a successful examination before the Patent Office. In this respect, the possibility of entry in the register of representatives ex officio is dropped. The requirement for a 2 year working experience prior to the admission exam is also waived. The Ordinance regulates the procedure for recognition of EEA representative’s professional qualification of a representative and the procedure for occasional or temporary provision of services in the Republic of Bulgaria. For the exercise of their profession, the representatives will be permitted to join in partnerships.
We believe that with the presented opportunities for the Bulgarian Industrial Property representatives to operate in EEA countries, including through partnerships with foreign IP representatives, we will expand the capabilities of our team to better serve our clients in the field of Intellectual Property, both in the country and abroad.
The CPC has adopted the obligations offered by "Lukoil Bulgaria" EOOD, "Eco Bulgaria" EAD, "Shell Bulgaria" EAD, "OMV Bulgaria" OOD, "NIS Petrol" Ltd. and "Petrol" AD.
The CPC has adopted a decision, whereby it has recognized the measures proposed by the fuel retailers investigated for cartel aimed at cessation of the conduct consisting in a prohibited agreement and /or concerted practice regarding offered by them prices. In which connection, proceedings have been initiated. These measures consist in the obligation to adopt internal rules, including:
• prohibition of contacts and exchange of any information with companies - competitors and their employees;
• prohibition of any contact between employees of their own and of rival gas stations;
• prohibition of discussion, obtaining or providing commercial information within the work carried in the non-profit organization "Bulgarian Petroleum and Gas Association";
• disciplinary sanction - dismissal for employees who do not comply with the confidentiality of commercial information.
The team of "Penkov, Markov & Partners" International Law Firm has extensive experience particularly in the establishment of such rules on avoidance of concerted practices not only for our clients, as well as for various associations and associations of traders in Bulgaria. We always advise on the implementation of the best international practices and corporate programs and compliance regulations. The preparation and conduct of training programs for the employees of our clients (focused on competition law, data protection, etc.) Is the safest way of avoiding such violations, which is why we have developed a system of training and special methodology for adaptation of the rules for compliance with the Protection of Competition Act of our clients.
Although the definition of the restrictions from above allows some interpretations on the scope of the prohibited contacts, the Commission's decision reaffirms the importance and the advisability of our services.
There is no unlawful cartel of the retail chains for the sales of their own brands
The Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) established the lack of cartel between the retail chains regarding the sales of their own brands. The proceeding was initiated due to implied allegations for coordinated market behavior of the retail chains and possible determination of the delivery and sales prices of goods branded by the chains.
The competition team of Penkov, Markov and Partners – Mr. Vladimir Penkov, Mr. Svetlin Adrianov and Mrs. Yura Mincheva successfully defended the interest of one of the retail chains in the complex with a view to its proceedings specifics and regulation peculiarities investigation of the CPC which went on for about a year.
Our team has built successful defending strategy towards the groundless statements of CPC for illegal actions and meanwhile carried out training for the chain’s personnel for detailed clarification on the activities which could be considered as breach of the competition rules. Broadly discussed were the good commercial practices as well as the specific guidelines and practices of the European Commission at investigations for cartel agreements. At the end of the day the efforts of our team resulted in convincing the CPC that our client is in no breach of the rules for protection of competition and at the same time our client was updated on the regulations and mechanisms which should be applied by his personnel to avoid such infringements.
Another positive court decision enacted for compensation damages caused, by retaining of the unconstitutional 20% state under the Renewable Sources Energy Act
The efforts of “Penkov, Markov and Partners” Attorneys-at-Law for protecting the legal interests of RES producers who have suffered damages from illegal actions of the Bulgarian State, have again been successful. The court representation, aimed at refunding the 20 % fee paid by the RES producers, is without precedent and our law firm was the first to undertake the uneasy task to challenge the widely spread perception in the legal theory and the court practice that the fees thus paid are not subject to refund.
In the beginning of 2017 the Sofia Regional Court again clearly demonstrated that the status quo could be revised, by enacting another decision against the Republic of Bulgaria obliging it to compensate a company, RES producer of electric energy, represented by “Penkov, Markov and Partners”, for the damages caused with the application of the unconstitutional fee for previous period.
In its decision the Sofia Regional Court confirmed our argumentation that the amounts claimed represent compensation for material damages suffered by the RES producers, being loss of profit from income that could be obtained from the price of produced electric energy, which occurred as result of actions of members of the 42nd National Assembly, namely the adoption of the provisions of Article 35a and the following from the Renewable Sources Energy Act.
The court also upheld the argumentation of “Penkov, Markov and Partners” for conflict between the 20 % state fee and Article 107, para 1 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, by virtue of which unless EU law provides otherwise, any aid granted by a Member State in any form whatsoever which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain undertakings or the production of certain goods, in so far as it affects trade between Member States, shall be incompatible with the internal market. In this sense the Bulgarian court confirmed the fact that the 20% state fee withheld appears clearly discriminatory for the RES producers of energy from wind and sun, in respect of whom the unconstitutional legal provisions have been applied.
Our team is closely following whether the court practice for fair compensation of the damages caused to the sector will be continued and approved also by other court panels who are reviewing cases on the same subject.