Rule of Law Report Proposes Changes in Four Main Areas of Business-Related Legislation

On January 16, 2024, at American Corner Sofia, AmCham Bulgaria presented its Rule of Law Report before its membership and the main points that a group of external to the Chamber, independent experts brought together through the Rule of Law and Legislative Reform Committee initiative.

Omourtag Petkov, Chair, Rule of Law and Legislative Reform Committee, alongside with Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hristo Hristev, Sofia University, Georgi Atanasov, Partner at Dokovska, Atanasov & Partners, and assoc. Anastas Punev, Sofia University, outlined the main theses of the texts they developed for the report. These are:

  • Requirements of the Rule of Law and the Problems of Administrative Justice in Bulgaria – The analysis aims to answer the question of what are the main weaknesses of the rule of law in Bulgaria through the prism of guaranteeing the independence of the courts and the functioning of administrative justice.
  • The Protection of Private Property Rights in the Light of Confiscation Legislation in the Republic of Bulgaria – Over the years, the inefficiency of the body that is supposed to work for the confiscation of illegally acquired property has been proven and its activities so far have led to violation of civil rights, disrespect for private property, and lack of results expected by the society and the state, while the budgets for its upkeep have been increasing enormously.
  • Analysis of the Problems with State Fees in Civil Cases – This topic examines the right of access to justice, which is constrained by the 1996 rules applied without regard to context, which set a minimum state fee of 4% of the total claim and set no upper limit. In essence, the stamp duty is part of the risk that the claimant assumes in bringing a case, and to this is added the risk of possible insolvency of the defendant.

As well as “What Needs to Change in Criminal Justice” was presented on January 17 at the press conference on the same topic by Andrey Yankulov.

After the comprehensive presentation of the authors of the report, a discussion followed, together with representatives of the member companies of the Chamber. Some of the issues addressed were related to the big picture facing the Judiciary system in Bulgaria, what needs to be done to start a change in practice in the areas so raised by the panelists, and other topics of interest to the audience.

  • Executive Summary in Bulgarian of the report can be downloaded from this link.
  • Full version in Bulgarian is available here.
  • Executive Summary in English is available here.

The project is supported by the Center for International Entrepreneurship (CIPE, Center for International Private Enterprise).

Activities under the Rule of Law theme of AmCham Bulgaria
  • 2014, July Conference “The rule of law: a fundamental principle for a sustainable business environment”
  • 2015  – Rule of Law Conference
  • 2016, January – 10 bilateral chambers sign an Open Letter signaling the need for more effective implementation of rule of law principles in our country.
  • 2017  – White Paper with recommendations to the government for reforms in key sectors of the economy and public life.
  • 2017, June – AmCham Bulgaria, ABBA, and Confindustria Bulgaria organized a conference on the need for judicial reform with the participation of the ambassadors of Italy, the UK and the US, which was followed by a Statement on the Rule of Law in Bulgaria, signed by AmCham Bulgaria, Advantage Austria, the British-Bulgarian Business Association, the Canadian-Bulgarian Business Network, Confindustria Bulgaria, the Norwegian-Bulgarian Business Group and the French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
  • 2020, February – Joint meeting of the Boards of AmCham Bulgaria and GBITC
  • 2020, May – joint “Rule of Law and Business in Bulgaria” survey of AmCham Bulgaria and GBITC members.
  • 2020, October – webinar on “Goals and Implications of Implementing the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)” with members of AmCham Bulgaria and GBITC.
  • 2020, March – 2021, December A series of letters and positions of AmCham Bulgaria to national and European institutions, criticizing certain laws and regulations and decisions that damage certain sectors of the economy and/or violate European Union Law.
  • 2021, December – Establishment of AmCham Bulgaria’s Rule of Law and Legislative Reform Committee
  • 2022, June – AmCham Bulgaria joins the Business Integrity Club led by Transparency International Bulgaria
  • 2022  – Start of the Rule of Law Project at AmCham Bulgaria
  • 2022, August – Discussion on Rule of Law and Investment Climate with Ambassador Jim O’Brien with AmCham Bulgaria, moderated on behalf of AmCham Bulgaria by Omurtag Petkov, as Chair of the Rule of Law and Law Reform Committee
  • 2023, January –  joint conference “The Rule of Law and the Business Environment in Bulgaria”, organized together with the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Confindustria Bulgaria, French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bulgarian-Swiss Chamber of Commerce, Bulgarian-British Business Association, Hellenic-Bulgarian Business Council, Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria and Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (as rotating chair of the Association of Employers’ Organisations in Bulgaria).

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