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Mar 24, 2020

Legal Terms in a State of Emergency (COVID-19)

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INTRODUCTION

With the recently passed Act on the measures and actions during the state of emergency declared on March 13, 2020 by the National Assembly (the “Act”), the Parliament adopted certain measures regarding the applicable terms, enforcement proceedings, effects of the delayed performance of contract obligations, etc. Below you can find questions and answers regarding the recent changes.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How will the proceeding to which I am a party be affected?

During the state of emergency, the procedural terms for pending court, arbitration and enforcement proceedings will be suspended, i.e. no procedural steps will be taken except for the adoption of acts. The terms will continue to run once the state of emergency is canceled.

* Exceptions: Terms will continue running for criminal proceedings and proceedings under the Extradition and the European Arrest Warrant Act.

Do other terms also cease running?

For the period from 13.03.2020 till the end of the state of emergency, the following terms shall also cease running:
 the limitation periods provided for in statutory acts, with the expiry of which certain rights will be terminated or certain obligations will arise.

* Exceptions: Terms under the Criminal Code and the Administrative Offenses and Penalties Act do not cease running.

 the terms under Chapter Five, Sections I and III, Chapter Eight, Section V, Chapter Ten and Chapter Twelve, Sections I, II and IV of the Counter-Corruption and Unlawfully Acquired Assets Forfeiture Act, with the exception of Art. 38, para. 1, item 2 thereof.
 the terms under Art. 175c, para. 1-3 of the Judiciary System Act, with the exception of Art. 175c, para. 1, item 2 thereof.

I am a participant in administrative proceedings before an administrative authority. The latter has issued instructions which I must fulfill within a certain term. Does this term cease running?

Yes, the terms for complying with instructions provided by an administrative authority to parties or participants in proceedings are also suspended. They continue to run after the end of the state of emergency.

*Exception: Terms for compliance with instructions in proceedings under the Management of Resources from the European Structural and Investment Funds Act are not suspended.

Will other terms under the Bulgarian legislation, which will not be suspended, be affected in any way?

All other terms established in the law, except for those mentioned above, which expire during the state of emergency and which are related to the exercise of rights or performance of obligations, are extended by one month, as of the day of cancellation of the state of emergency. The same applies to the effects of administrative acts, limited in time which expire during the state of emergency.

What are the restrictions on enforcement proceedings?

Restrictions are imposed on the following enforcement actions:
Public Sale and Entry into possession – they are suspended during the state of emergency; after the cancellation of the state of emergency, they shall be re-scheduled; no new fees and charges will be owed;
Property inventory – no inventory of movable property and immovable property owned by individuals can be made;
Distrain – distrain cannot be imposed on:
o bank accounts of natural persons and health care establishments;
o remuneration and pensions.
Interim measures on medical apparatus and equipment cannot be enacted.

*Exceptions: Distrain may still be imposed if it concerns claims for maintenance obligations, delictual damages, and employment remuneration.

I have financial difficulties related to the pandemic and the state of emergency. I cannot pay my debts on time. Will I suffer all the negative legal consequences of my failure to perform?

No, the legal effects of delayed payment, including interest and penalties for delay, as well as non-monetary consequences such as claims for early repayment, contract termination and seizure of property, shall not apply until the cancellation of the state of emergency.

*This text does not constitute legal advice or consultation and should not be considered sufficient to resolve specific legal issues and cases.

Legal Terms EN