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Covid-19

Functioning of the judicial system and bailiffs during the State of Emergency

1. Suspension of terms

According to the Act during the period between 13th March 2020 and the official revocation of the state of emergency the following terms are suspended:

a/ procedural terms for court, arbitral and enforcement proceedings, with the exception of the terms for criminal proceedings, proceedings under the Extradition and European Arrest Warrant Act and proceedings concerning coercive measures;

b/ limitation periods and other terms, stipulated in statutory legal acts, by the virtue of whose expiration rights of private law subjects are lapsed or terminated or obligations for the latter are imposed, with the exception of the terms under the Criminal Code and the Administrative Violations and Sanctions Act;

c/ terms for executing instructions, given by an administrative authority to parties or participants in proceedings, with the exception of proceedings under the Management of Funding from the European Structural and Investment Funds Act;

d/ terms under the Anti-corruption and Forfeiture of Illegally Acquired Assets Act,

e/ terms for submission of declarations by the judges, prosecutors and investigators of property and conflict of interest

2. Measures concerning ongoing court proceedings

2.1. Suspension of court hearings

During the period from 16th March until 13th April 2020 no hearings of criminal, civil, commercial and administrative proceedings would be held, with the following exceptions:

a/ Certain criminal proceedings such as for coercive measures, prohibition to approach victims, involuntary placement in mental health hospital; crimes against governmental order; crimes concerning violation of regulation issued against the spreading of contagious disease and related procedural actions etc.

b/ Certain civil and commercial proceedings such as for exercising parental rights related to interim measures; under the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act - only related to order for immediate protection or its amendment, as well as in cases, regarding rejections of requests for protection; permission to withdraw money from child’s bank deposits; securing a future claim/or submitted claim; securing evidence; requests under the Electronic Communications Act.

c/ Certain administrative proceedings such as concerning appeal against orders for permission or rejection of interim execution of an administrative act or suspension of interim execution; concerning disclosure by the court of tax or social insurance information and proceedings for suspension of the execution of an audit act; concerning appeal against the legality of detention by the police under the Ministry of Internal Affairs Act;

d/ Securing a future claim/or submitted claims;

e/ Securing evidence;

2.2. Rescheduling court hearings

All other hearings, falling outside the scope of the exceptions, would be scheduled for dates,

following the period after 13th April.

3. Suspension of serving summons and other court documents

No notifications, summons, messages or other documents should be served during the state of emergency, with the exception of those related to the proceedings abovementioned for the period the state of emergency has been declared for, i.e. from 16th March until 13th April 2020 inclusive. All notifications and messages, concerning the proceedings described would be served by telephone or via e-mail.

4. Changes in the organization of the courts due to the state of emergency

Each court issues orders for the regulation of its working organization during the state of emergency, declared on the territory of Bulgaria, as it operates in accordance with rules, set by their governing bodies, those rules being in conformity with the Supreme Judicial Council’s decision from 15.03.2020, taken during an extraordinary meeting of the Council.

The following changes in the organization of the courts are made:

· the initiation of court proceedings is suspended, with the exception of the proceedings, stated hereinabove;

· lodging all types of documents in the court shall be made only by post or via e-mail (as per the rules of Sofia City Court), with the exception of documents related to security procedures – only by post;

· certificates showing no previous convictions are issued only via e-mail;

· the access to the court buildings is forbidden for citizens, parties, expert witnesses, translators, lawyers and all other individuals, with the exception of the subpoenaed parties to the abovementioned proceedings.

3. Extension of terms

As of the revocation of the state of emergency the following terms would be extended with one month:

a/ terms, stipulated by the law, with the exception of those mentioned above in the Chapter “Suspension of terms”, which expire during the state of emergency and are related to exercise of rights or fulfilment of obligations by private persons and entities;

b/ the effect of administrative acts which is limited in time and expires during the state of emergency.

4. Enforcement proceedings

4.1. Suspension of public sales and entries into possession

All announced public sales and entries into possession by public and private enforcement agents /bailiffs/ are suspended. After the revocation of the state of emergency all postponed public sales and entries into possession should be scheduled for a new date, nevertheless no new fees and charges would be due.

4.2. Restrictions on distraints

During the state of emergency distraints on bank accounts of natural persons and bank accounts of medical establishments, distraints on labor remunerations and pensions, interim measures on medical equipment cannot be imposed.

4.3. Restrictions on foreclosures

Foreclosures of movable and immovable property, owned by natural persons, is not allowed, with the exception of the following cases: when it concerns alimonies’ obligations, claims for damages or employment remuneration.