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Summary on Class Actions in Bulgaria


In the year of 2007 a new Civil Procedure Code was adopted by Bulgarian parliament and entered into force as of 1st March 2008.
The amendments to procedural legislation provide an utterly new system of group representation for the first time in Bulgaria. The class action mechanism is included as a separate procedure in the new Code which shall be within the competence of the District courts.
Two are the options for class actions provided:  an action for non-monetary relief and class actions for mass tort. In the first case the class seeks only declarative judgment on the ground whereof each member is entitled to an individual proceeding. The other option given is to be claimed damages for all members of the group in a common trial.

The class action lawsuit may be initiated by one or several persons having suffered damages from a violation or by an organization for protection of the harmed.

Procedure
For initiation of a class action the following shall be included in the claim (in order class action to be certified):
  • Adequate way of notice suggested by the representative which may be debated and changed by the court;
  • All common questions of law and fact that are important for specifying the harmed people circle;
  • Evidence for capability in protection of the damaged interest and in carrying out the class action and meet all trial expenses; 
The court shall, apart from the provided evidence, officially investigate the eligibility of the representative, including their financial steadiness. The adequacy of representation is a prerequisite for certification of the class action.
Following the consideration of these issues the court shall render resolution to announce a proper way of notice (which may differ from the offered by the plaintiff) and adequate deadline for all concerned persons to opt in or opt out.
In the next phase, in a closed court session the participation of other persons willing to be parties in the trial shall be debated and the opt-out list of the damaged who don’t want to be engaged by the trial shall be issued.
Both options are allowed by the adopted pattern, therefore three different groups of concerned people are considered in relation to the binding effect of the court decision.
 
Binding effect of the judgment
In first place bound by the decision are the participants in the proceeding. Also such are those persons who did not explicitly exclude themselves in the given term before the start of the trial, which characterizes the class action mechanism as opt-out kind of system. In next place when the judgment is in favor of the class those members of the class who opted out are allowed to take advantage of the decision.

There are provided measures to secure the proper payment of the compensation such as meeting and committee of the class and opportunity for the court to control the bank accounts and process of payment.
The court is entitled to rule payment of the compensation in a certain bank account in the name of one of the plaintiffs or in a bank account at the disposal of all plaintiffs or of all members of the class. After the judgment is rendered the court may compel the plaintiffs to transfer the compensation in a bank account at the common disposal of all harmed people.
The court may also call a meeting of the class which will assign a committee supervising the compensation distribution.
 
   
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