Amendments in the Code Of Civil Procedure

Two amendments have already been adopted to the Civil Procedure Code (CCP) in the beginning of 2017. The first ones that create a new limit to the scope of disputes that can be resolved by an arbitral tribunal are promulgated in the State Gazette Number (SG) 8 dated the 24th of January 2017 and the next ones related to the procedure for a European order for attachment of bank accounts - in SG Number 13 dated the 7th of February 2017.

The amendments dated the 24th of January 2017 were initiated by the Ombudsman Maya Manolova and seek greater protection of consumer rights. The current provision of Art.19, para.1 of the CCP states that a dispute in which one of the parties is a consumer pursuant to § 13, para. 1 of the Additional Provisions of the Consumer Protection Act / CPA /[1] cannot be the subject of an arbitration agreement, respectively such dispute cannot be settled by an arbitration court and arbitration decisions decreed in such disputes shall be deemed null and void on the grounds of Art.47, para.2 of the International Commercial Arbitration Act. A new fifth paragraph is added in Art.405 of the CCP governing proceedings on the writ of execution, which states that on the basis of such decisions, the court shall deny to issue a writ of execution. Arbitration proceedings on such disputes which cannot be a subject of arbitration and have begun before the entry into force of the amendments shall be a subject to termination.

The new content of art.78, para.8 of CCP removes the option in favor of legal entities to award attorney fees, when they were protected by jurisconsult. According to this provision when legal entities were defended by jurisconsult, the compensation awarded by the court may not exceed the maximum size for the type of work specified under Art.37 of the Legal Assistance Act. These amounts are calculated under the Regulation on the payment for legal assistance and are much lower than those specified under Regulation 1/2004 on the minimum size of lawyers' fees.

The second amendments are based on REGULATION (EU) No 655/2014 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 15 May 2014 establishing a European Account Preservation Order procedure to facilitate cross-border debt recovery in civil and commercial matters (OJ, l 189/59 of June 27, 2014) and with their entry into force this procedure in Bulgaria is now a fact. The procedure will not only facilitate cross-border debt recovery but it also aims to ensure the mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments between Member States, effective access to justice and the elimination of obstacles to the proper functioning of civil proceedings, if necessary by promoting the compatibility of the rules on civil procedure applicable in the Member States. The competent authority for issuing the order is the court that has jurisdiction to rule on the substance of the matter and the competent authority for the receipt, transmission, delivery or execution of the order is the bailiff. The Council of Ministers should adopt amendments to the Tariff № 1 of the State Fees Act for fees collected by the courts, prosecution, investigation services and the Ministry of Justice as well as to the Tariff of state fees collected by the courts under the CPC until the 28th of February, 2017 with regards to these amendments.

The new legislative solutions will help ensure the effectiveness and fairness in providing legal assistance. The result of the convergence of justice in the EU Member States will result in easier and more efficient dealing with the practical problems of the national legal systems.

[1] "Consumer" within the meaning § 13, p.1 of the AP of CPA is every individual body which acquires commodities or uses services, which are not intended for carrying out a commercial or professional activity, and every individual body which, as a party of a contract under this law, acts out of the range of his/her commercial or professional activity.