A party in need of the recognition and enforcement of a judgment set by a foreign court, named FCJ, must apply for the recognition and enforcement of the FCJ to the Sofia City Court (SCC). This applies also to cases where the jurisdiction of the foreign court was chosen by the parties and mentioned in a contract.
The Sofia City Court does not review the merits of the dispute, but does recognize the FCJ. However, the Sofia City Court recognizes the judgment only if special conditions are fulfilled.
When doesn't the Sofia City Court recognize a foreign judgment?
The Sofia City Court does not recognize the foreign judgment, if there is no mutuality set between Bulgaria and the jurisdiction regarding the recognition and enforcement set by the courts in the relevant country that issued the judgment.
When a bilateral treaty is signed between Bulgaria and another jurisdiction, then mutuality is established. The Ministry of Justice in Bulgaria has made a list that contains 50 jurisdictions known to have mutuality agreements with Bulgaria. The respective 50 jurisdictions have different types of mutuality agreements, such as formal mutuality established by treaty or mutuality in practice, also known as factually mutuality. The Bulgarian courts are not bound by the list, as it is only instructive.
Problems regarding the recognition of the foreign judgment
The proof of mutuality lies in the responsibility of the party that requested the recognition and enforcement of a FCJ, as mutuality must be established depending on each case. However, proof is not easily found and as the reciprocity is very difficult to define, the certainty of the outcome is hard to predict.
If the FCJ is not in accordance with the Bulgarian public policy or morality, as well as if the FCJ issued a judgment in regards to a dispute over property rights related to a real estate in Bulgaria, then the Sofia City Court is not responsible for the recognition of the foreign judgment.
In case the foreign judgment was set by an Italian court, according to the Civil Procedure Code, solving a dispute cannot be subject to the Italian foreign courts if the beneficiary has the right of extraterritoriality and has initiated the case or if the case refers to companies owned of such persons and are registered in Bulgaria.
Italy is one of the countries that has a bilateral treaty signed with Bulgaria regarding recognition and enforcement of foreign judgment.
For more information on the recognition of foreign judgments in Bulgaria, our Bulgarian lawyers can answer all the questions you have. Contact our law firm in Bulgaria to receive help in any legal activity.
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