The Bulgarian Legal System
There is a separation of powers in Bulgaria. The power of the State shall be divided between legislative, judicial and executive branches. The judiciary is a branch of government, that carries out justice in Bulgaria. Justice protects the rights and legitimate interests of citizens, legal persons and the state. The following article aims to present the current court system in Bulgaria.
Citizens and legal entities have the right for justice when there is any violation of their rights and freedoms. The judicial protection can not be denied to them.
Legal proceedings in Bulgaria are three instances: first instance, appeal and cassation. General principle of law is that appeal against the sentence could not worsen the situation of the appellant.
The Bulgarian (common) Court System consists of:
- Regional Courts with criminal and civil jurisdiction;
- District Courts, which are tribunals of both first and second instance depending on the value or nature of the claim;
- Appellate Courts;
- and the Supreme Courts (Supreme Court of Cassation and Supreme Administrative Court), which act as last instance for civil, administrative and criminal law matters.
But in Bulgaria there are also special courts:
- Administrative Courts;
- Criminal Courts;
- Military Courts.
The Regional Court is the basic first instance. Its decisions are appealable, in case I disagree with the court ruling. I have the right to appeal before a higher court, e.g. the District Court.
The judgment of the Court First Instance is not final and may be appealed within 14 days before the upper instance.
What`s the rule? – The applicant should submit the application in the Regional Court at place of residence.
The District Court is first instance for civil and criminal cases, determined by law.
The District Court is also a second instance (appellative instance) for appeals against the Regional Courts decisions.
Deadline to appeal the decision of the second instance is 30 days.
The administrative justice system consists of 28 administrative courts at district level and a Supreme Administrative Court. The Administrative Court is the first instance.
The Administrative Court have jurisdiction over all administrative cases, except those which are referred to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Administrative Court.
The Military Court is the first instance for criminal offenses, committed by soldiers or police officials. In these cases the second instance is the Sofia Military Court of Appeals.
One of the Bulgarian specialized courts is the Criminal Court. The Specialized Criminal Court is only one in the country. Its jurisdiction is for organized crimes, carried out throughout the Republic of Bulgaria, but also transnational organized crime in the defined cases. The Specialized Criminal Court is treated as a District Court and its seat is in Sofia. The second instance here is the Appellative Specialized Criminal Court, and the third – Supreme Court of Cassation.
It is always second appellative instance and I can appeal before it the decisions of the District Court in civil and criminal cases (where the District Court acted as first instance).
Supreme Court of Cassation
The Supreme Cassation Court is the highest court for criminal and civil cases. It shall carry out the supreme supervision for accurate and uniform implementation of laws by all courts in mentioned cases. Its jurisdiction extends over the whole territory of Bulgaria.
The cassation instance upheld the lower court decision or return it for further consideration. However, the decision of the cassation instance is not appealable.
Supreme Administrative Court
The Supreme Administrative Court is the highest court in the administrative jurisdiction. It also shall carry out the supervision for accurate and uniform implementation of laws. Its jurisdiction also extends over the whole territory of Bulgaria.
Sometimes the Supreme Administrative Court may act also as a first instance (but for a very small number of cases, strictly defined by the law).
The secondary legislation acts are contestable before the Supreme Administrative Court.
Bulgarian Constitutional Court
In Bulgaria there is also a Constitutional Court. The Bulgarian Constitutional Court is independent from the legislative and executive authorities. It is entitled to ensure the consistency of the legislation in force with the Constitution. Once a legislative act is declared as contradictory to the Bulgarian Constitution, such legislative act would not be further applied.
(*) The article aims to explain basic rights under Bulgarian law and it is not to be considered as a legal advisor. We strongly advise you to hire a lawyer, if you experience trouble understanding and using these rights. (*)
Judiciary System Act
Constitution of Republic of Bulgaria
Administrative Procedure Code
- Criminal Procedure Code