Bulgaria’s top judiciary body promises fixes after Sofia judges protest

Bulgaria’s Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) vowed to implement measures that would reduce the case overload at the Sofia District Court (SDC), following a protest by the court’s judges on December 9.

SDC is the largest first-instance court in Bulgaria and faces about 100 000 new cases each year, making it by the far the most overworked court in the country, protesters said. The protest itself appeared to have been prompted by a recent SJC decision to request an inquest into the number of delayed cases handled by the court.

Before the protest began, SDC chief Metodi Lalov said that he was resigning his position, accusing the SJC of failing to solve the court’s case overload issue and becoming “a repressive body”, as quoted by private broadcaster Nova Televisia.

During a meeting with SJC representatives, the protesters said that merely increasing the number of judges employed at the district court would not solve the case overload. In addition to more judge appointments and increased funding (both for salaries and to improve the case management system at the SDC), the SJC representatives committed to drafting legislative changes that would reduce the case overload, specialist judiciary news website Legalworld.bg reported.

Among the judges’ suggestions is to transfer the responsibility of issuing court orders from judges to court bailiffs, with SDC deputy chief Raina Martinova saying that such cases accounted for 60 per cent of the total case load. Another suggestion made by the judges was to allow other first-instance courts throughout the country to hear consumer litigation lawsuits.

(Photo: Jason Morisson/sxc.hu)



The Sofia Globe staff

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