Amendments to the State of Emergency Act regarding litigation procedures

09.04.2020

On 09.04.2020 an Amendment to the State of Emergency Act was promulgated in the State Gazette. The Amendment Act introduces significant changes to the litigation procedures during the state of emergency (which we wrote about in a previous article published on our website).

In short, the amendments are, as follows:

  1. The list of cases which will continue being heard during the state of emergency is supplemented. While the initial text of the act stipulated that only a few criminal cases will continue, after the changes, the following civil, commercial and administrative cases will continue:

Civil and commercial cases:

  • Perhaps the following will be of biggest interest:
    • Interim and precautionary measures (of an underlying lawsuit or before its filing) and for securing of evidence;
    • Applications for staying of registrations with the Commercial Register;
    • Child custody proceedings (only with regard to provisional and protective measures);
    • Proceedings under the Protection of Domestic Violence Act (only with regard to orders for immediate protection and their amendment, as well as appeals for their rejection);
    • Permissions for withdrawal of funds from child deposits;
    • Requests under the Electronic Communications Act;

Administrative cases:

  • Among the cases of higher interest to our clients:
    • Appeals against the preliminary enforcement of administrative acts;
    • Appeals against court rulings and orders rendered within the administrative litigation procedures;
    • Litigation procedures under the following acts: Public Procurement Act, Concessions Act, Management of Resources from the European Structural and Investment Funds Act, Public and Municipal Property Acts, Election Code, appeal of building permits and approved or amended spatial plans under the Spatial Development Act, appeal of acts establishing public receivables;
    • Proceedings for disclosure of tax and social security secret and for appeal of tax audit acts establishing public liabilities of natural persons and companies;
    • Appeals against police detention;
    • Interim and precautionary measures (of an underlying lawsuit or before its filing) and for securing of evidence;
    • Appeals against unlawful acts and omissions of the administration;
    • Appeals against administrative acts issued with regard to the state of emergency;
    • Appeals against disciplinary actions against detained individuals;
  1. The deadlines in the above cases do not start immediately and the citizens are granted a 7-day grace period as from the promulgation of the law (until 16.04). Thus, the deadlines that were suspended on 13.03 will resume on 17.04 (for example, a 14-day deadline of which ten days have expired by 13.03 will expire on 21.04);
  2. Until the state of emergency is lifted, open court hearings (in cases heard during the state of emergency) may be held remotely, ensuring the direct and virtual participation of parties and participants in the hearing;
  3. The text on suspension of limitation periods has been refined – the amended act suspends not only limitation periods that affect citizens’ obligations (for example, deadlines for payment of pecuniary obligations), but also limitation periods  after the expiry of which citizens acquire rights (for example, the limitation period after the expirty of which citizens acquire real estate ownership rights);
  4. There will be no summer judicial vacation in 2020 –  in order to catch up with the cases accumulated during the case of emergency, hearings will also be scheduled between 15.07.2020 and 01.09.2020.

The list of cases which will resume during the state of emergency is wider than the list of cases, according to the decision of the Supreme Judicial Council, with open court hearings during the state of emergency. To this regard, we expect the SJC to adopt a new decision supplementing their list in compliance with the State of Emergency Act. Several state bodies are also expected to resume their activity, in particular – the Commission for Protection of Competition (which hears appeals against public procurements), which, pursuant to the old provisions, decided that it would not hold hearings until the state of emergency was lifted.

For further information contact:

Ilya Komarevski, Partner
Ilya.Komarevski@tbk.bg

Philip Kiossev, Senior Associate
Philip.Kiossev@tbk.bg