EU 'Launching Procedure' against Bulgaria over Treatment of Debtors
The EU Commission has started an infringement procedure against Bulgaria over legislation which allows fast-track cases for debtors, a Bulgarian solicitor has claimed.
The measure is also targeting Civil Code texts which provide for a sell-off of debtor's assets in contravention of EU law, Desislava Filipova, an applicant in a case brought to EU institutions over mistreatment of debtors, has told the Bulgarian National Radio.
Brussels has not yet commented on the claims.
Filipova has argued she received a letter on July 27 as an applicant. In her words, the document reads that violations were found as the Commission was looking into the matter.
Filipova has also explained that Bulgaria will be given the opportunity to take measures and amend its legislation (in this particular case, Article 417 of the Civil Code) or will be brought before the Court of Justice of the European Union.
She heads the Center for European Integration of Bulgaria and Protection of Human Rights, a non-profit organization that in recent years has been active in the field of human rights.
The article in question reads as follows (the text is published unabridged):
Enforcement Order Based on Document
Article 417. Alternatively, the applicant may request the issuing of an enforcement order where the receivable, regardless of the amount thereof, is based upon:
1. an act of an administrative authority, whereunder the admission to enforcement is vested in the civil courts;
2. a document or an abstract of the books of account, whereby receivables of the government institutions, the municipalities and the banks are established;
3. a notarial act, a settlement or another contract bearing notarized signatures in respect of the obligations contained therein to pay sums of money or other fungible things, as well as obligations to deliver particular things;
4. an abstract of the registered pledges registry on a recorded security interest and on commencement of foreclosure: in respect of the delivery of pledged things;
5. an abstract of the registered pledges registry on a recording of a contract for sale with retention of title until payment of the purchase price or a lease contract: in respect of the return of corporeal things sold or leased;
6. a contract of pledge or a mortgage deed under Article 160 and Article 173 (3) of the Obligations and Contracts Act;
7. an effective act establishing a State or municipal receivable, where the enforcement of this act is effected according to the procedure established by this Code;
8. a deficit deed;
9. a promissory note, a bill or exchange or another negotiable security payable to order which is Equivalent thereto, as well as a bond or coupons attached thereto.
Filipova is quoted by the BGNES wire service as saying that the article "allows banks and other persons... to provide themselves with a receiving order against with regard to clients without any real case having taken place, in a closed and inquisitorial proceeding in which only the stronger side goes before court - a bank or another service provider. And clients cannot defend themselves."
She has argued the Bulgarian legislation constitutes a breach of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Directive of the EU, or the Directive 93/13/EEC (adopted at a time when the EU was called European Economic Community).
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