Enforcement Regulations Change as Bulgaria Transposes EU Directive
Verdicts and decisions issued by the courts in the Member States of the European Union will now be enforced directly by private and public enforcement authorities in the respective country without even the need for one to draw an Act of Enforcement. This will happen on January 10, 2015, although the National Assembly obviously will not be able to adopt the necessary changes in the Civil Procedure Code (CPC). The innovation, however, comes under the EU Regulation, which prevails over our own legislation.
Amendments to the Bulgarian CPC, which should be adopted to include Regulation 1215/2012 in the national legislation, were submitted to the National Assembly literally in the last days of last year - on 30 December. Then it was obvious that the matter cannot even be addressed before 10 January.
Perhaps because of this frantic rush, the officials submitted outrageous as quality legal texts, literally copied from the regulation, completely unclear and incomprehensible for citizens. But in order not to break the EU rules, though shoddily written, the changes in the CPC will be voted quickly, despite their obvious flaws. And then practitioners will have the hard time to work out how to apply them.
The worst in the whole thing is that there are bailiffs who have never heard of this Regulation and in the next week they will have to apply it. Nor do they know whom to ask for explanation. "I hear this for the first time from you. Nobody sent us any instructions nor any training or education courses have been initiated," said a state enforcement official working outside of the capital.
The regulation changes not only the rules for the enforcement of verdicts - it rearranges many other proceedings related to international jurisdiction in civil and commercial litigation, as well as the recognition and enforcement of their decisions. The aim is the collateral on pending disputes to be imposed quickly and effectively in any EU country and the decisions issued by the courts to have direct effect anywhere within the EU and to be recognized and enforced without any complications.
Most dramatically and quickly, the changes are expected to be felt first in enforcement proceedings. According to the amendments tabled in Parliament what a court held anywhere in the EU as judgment will be enough to send a bailiff at the door of a debtor. The new text 622a in the CPC will not even ask for the issuance of a writ of execution. It will suffice an application to the bailiff - private or public – who has to be given a copy of the decision and a certificate from the court according to a special form. And this is it. The debtor will receive a formal notice, as the order is. And if the time limit for response expires, and the debtor does nothing, the bailiff may directly proceed to enforce the payment of the claim.
Again according to changes in the CPC, the debtor has one month to appeal the execution - the Regulation provides that a debtor may submit a "request for refusal of enforcement" in the district court of his or her permanent address.
Because of the appalling literal rewriting of the regulation, however, for an ordinary citizen it would be simply impossible without legal assistance to see if there is a difference between "application for refusal of enforcement" and "application for refusal of launching the enforcement" and what the prerequisites to get some protection are. And the latter is unacceptable because the law should create standards of conduct which should be understood by people – there is just no other way they can learn to stand up for their rights and seek to protect them.