Bulgaria became a member state of the European Union (EU) since the 1st of January 2007. Thus, the recognition of a EU court decision can be done following the applicable legislation at the level of the Community. The recognition of a EU court decision can be necessary in debt collection procedures in Bulgaria or in other EU member states.
However, in order for the Bulgarian courts to recognize and enforce the decisions of EU courts, the claimant has to complete a set of legal steps, once a decision was issued in his or her favor. Our team of debt collection lawyers in Bulgaria can provide a step-to-step presentation on the legal procedures that have to be completed in this case.
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What are the steps for recognizing a EU court decision?
When a EU court hasissued a final decision concerning a legal matter, including on debt collection, the respective decision has legal power at the level of the EU member states. However, the claimant has to conclude a set of steps in order for the court decision to be recognized at the level of a specific EU country.
Still, it is necessary to know that the each EU country, including Bulgaria, can have the right of opposing to the respective EU court decision, but this can apply in exceptional situations. Those who want to benefit from the recognition of a EU court decision in Bulgaria have to perform specific steps, as the decision itself is not automatically recognized in the respective country; the next procedures are necessary in this case:
- the claimant who has obtained a final EU court decision has to address to the enforcement authorities that are established in Bulgaria;
- in the case in which the claimant is involved in a procedure of debt collection in Bulgaria, he or she has to provide certain documents to the Bulgarian authorities;
- thus, it is necessary to provide a certificate stating the validity of the judgment issued in a EU country, as well as a copy of the judgment itself;
- even in this case, the debtor located in Bulgaria has the right to oppose to the decision and to refuse the legal grounds on which the decision was taken;
- the main rule of law which refers to the recognition and the enforcement of EU court decision at the level of the EU member states is given by the Brussels Regulation;
- the enforcement of a decision taken in a EU court can be done through the European Enforcement Order.
How is the Brussels Regulation recognized in Bulgaria?
The Brussels Regulation (Regulation 1215/2012) is recognized at the level of the member states of the EU, Bulgaria included. The legislation benefits from a direct enforcement into the Bulgarian legislation through the Code of Civil Procedure (Article 622a), which stipulates that a decision ruled by a EU court is legally recognized under the local legislation; our team of debt collection lawyers in Bulgaria can provide an extensive presentation on the provisions of the law, which refer to the following:
- since the decision taken by the EU court is recognized in Bulgaria, the enforcement shall be carried out by a local bailiff;
- however, this procedure may be commenced only at the request of the claimant;
- as presented above, the Bulgarian debtor has the right of refusing the respective order;
- thus, the debtor is entitled, in a period of maximum one month since he or she received the debt notification, to refuse the enforcement procedure;
- if the document is written in a foreign language, the debtor is entitled to receive a translation of the judgment.
Provided that the debtor refuses to pay the debt, he or she has the right of appealing the case to a local court. As a general rule, the procedure is done through the provincial court where the debtor has his or her permanent/registered address. In the case in which the Bulgarian debtor does not have a registered address in Bulgaria, the application has to be done through the Sofia City Court.
An appeal on the case can take place at the Sofia Court of Appeal and this is done through the provincial court were the case was first held. The provincial court in Bulgaria may issue a decision in the favor of the claimant, stating that there are no legal grounds for refusing the EU court decision, or it may state that the enforcement procedures should not be started.
Provided that the debt collection case in Bulgaria will not find its resolution at the Sofia Court of Appeal, the case can be heard by the Supreme Court of Cassation; our team of debt collection lawyers in Bulgaria may provide more information on the court system available in this country. Foreigners who are involved in debt collection in Bulgaria can contact our lawyers for legal representation and legal advice on the applicable procedures.