Bulgaria Amends Civil Procedure Code
Major amendments to the Bulgarian Civil Procedure Code entered into force in November 2017, including changes to the order for payment procedure, the procedure for notifying individuals of court actions, court fees and civil enforcement regulations. There are also two main changes directly related to IP.
First, it is now explicitly specified that enforcement officials can seize or sell judgement debtors’ industrial property rights in order to enforce the rights of judgement creditors. While enforcement officials could previously sell debtors’ properties, such as real estate and vehicles, or freeze their bank accounts, the Civil Procedure Code now also explicitly provides for the sale and seizure of debtors’ rights over trademarks, patents, utility models, industrial designs, topologies of integrated circuits, plant varieties and animal species as a way to ensure that a creditor receives what they are entitled to. Copyright and related rights are not included in the scope of the provision. This enforcement procedure can be carried out by both state and private enforcement agents and must be entered in the Bulgarian PTO’s register.
Second, the traditionally narrow scope of cassation grounds has now been widened. Previously, subject to cassation at the Bulgarian Supreme Court of Cassation were appellate court decisions that were:
- Contradicting the Bulgarian Supreme Court of Cassation case law;
- Addressing an issue previously resolved by a civil court in a contradictory manner; and
- Addressing an issue which is important with respect to the accurate application of legal norms or to the development of the law itself.
From now on, appellate court decisions contradicting the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and of the Bulgarian Constitutional Court are also subject to cassation.
The new amendments profoundly alter the Civil Procedure Code in Bulgaria and may have a tremendous impact on the practice of law and especially on Bulgarian civil courts’ case law. Because of the broadened civil cassation grounds, it could be expected that Bulgarian civil courts will adhere to CJEU case law in the field of IP more strictly than before.
By: Maxim Hristov
For more information, please contact Maxim Hristov at our Bulgaria office.
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