An Act to Amend and Supplement the Administrative Procedure Code (APC) was promulgated in the State Gazette, issue 77, dated 18 September 2018. The Act shall enter into force on 1 January 2019. Certain provisions, however, entered into force as of 18 September 2018.
Numerous significant amendments have been introduced, among which changes related to the procedure to appeal administrative acts, including acts issued under the Tax and Social Security Procedure Code (TSSPC), the acceleration of the implementation of e-justice, as well as amendments to a number of other acts.
A summary of the more important amendments is presented below.
Amendments to the TSSPC
Appeals against tax assessment acts shall henceforth be submitted to the administrative court as per the applicant's permanent address or registered office at the time of the first act whereby the tax and social security control was performed.
A limitation of the access to cassation control has been provided for with regard to tax cases, as a result of which the procedure to appeal an act establishing public obligations of an organization less than BGN 4,000 in aggregate, excluding the interests for delay, will take place only before one court instance and the judgment of the administrative court will be final.
The above amendments to the TSSPC entered into force on 18 September 2018 and shall not be applicable with regard to the court cases initiated before the promulgation of the Act to Amend and Supplement the APC.
Amendments to the APC
The jurisdiction in matters relating to the appeal of individual administrative acts is changed: from now on, competent shall be the court in whose jurisdiction the addressee of the appealed act has their permanent address or registered office. If the permanent address or registered office is situated abroad, competent shall be Administrative Court Sofia-City.
A state fee for cassation appeal of BGN 370 has been introduced to be paid by the organizations in cases where the pecuniary interest could not be determined. In cases where there is а pecuniary interest, the due state fee shall amount to 0.8% of the interest, but not more than BGN 1,700. Only in cases where the interest exceeds BGN 10 million the state fee will amount to BGN 4,500. These fees also apply to the cassation appeal under the TSSPC, where the interest shall be calculated on the basis of the public obligations which have been established by virtue of the tax assessment act. The organizations will also owe a state fee of BGN 150 for the submission of private appeals and requests for revocation of effective court acts.
The cassation appeal and requests for revocation of effective court acts shall be signed by an attorney-at-law or lawyer, unless the appellant themselves or their representative are lawyers.
The above amendments to the APC shall be applicable to court cases initiated on or after 1 January 2019.
The scope of the concept of an “individual administrative act” is expanded. From now on, the declarations of wills made by persons performing public functions and organizations providing public services shall be deemed to be individual administrative acts. Pursuant to the definition given in the Electronic Government Act, the organizations which fall within this scope are the ones which, regardless of their legal form, provide one or more of the following services: educational, medical, water and sewerage, heating, electricity and gas supply, telecommunications, postage, banking, financial, or other similar services provided for public needs.
The order for sending of messages and summons in administrative and court proceedings under the APC is amended, and in respect of organizations and attorneys-at-law the delivery will take place with priority through their e-mail address. Until 10 October 2019, the current order for sending papers will be retained.
It is explicitly provided that claims for compensation for damage caused by administrative authorities and officials may also be submitted in the cases when their acts, actions and omissions represent obvious breaches of EU law.
Amendments to other acts
By virtue of the transitional and final provisions of the Act to Amend and Supplement the APC, a significant number of other codes and acts has been amended, e.g. the Labor Code, the Insurance Code, the Social Security Code, the Public Procurement Act, the Energy Act, the Credit Institutions Act, and Public Offering of Securities, Act etc. To a great extent, the changes are related to the widening of the scope of the appeal under the APC, as well as to changes in the jurisdiction, which aim to achieve a balance of the workload between the different courts.
Appeal before the Constitutional Court
A large number of the provisions introduced via the Act to Amend and Supplement the APC, including some of the above mentioned provisions, have already been appealed in terms of their compliance with the Constitution of Bulgaria before the Constitutional Court, and for that purpose two constitutional cases have been initiated. Regardless of this, all new provisions will be applicable as from the moment of their entry into force until the entry into force of the judgment of the Constitutional Court declaring these provisions unconstitutional.