Bulgaria: The Court finally set a 140 km/h Maximum Speed Limit on the Highway
The Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) has finally canceled the 20-year-old legally enshrined circumstance, in which the Bulgarian regulatory framework gives different answers to the question of what is the highest speed for driving on a highway. This was reported by news.lex.bg.
In the Road Traffic Act, the limit on highways is set at 140 km/h, but according to the regulations for its implementation, it is 120 km/h.
Today (January 16), a 5-member panel of the Supreme Administrative Court confirmed the decision of the first court instance, which revokes the text of the regulations. According to the supreme judges, in the event of a conflict between two acts of different degrees, the one with a higher rank, i.e. the law, applies.
The discrepancy between the regulations and the law has been a fact since 2002, when the maximum speed for driving on a highway in the Road Traffic Act was increased from 120 km/h to 130 km/h. In 2012, it was changed to 140 km/h. The speed determined by the law is applied during traffic control.
The regulation was adopted in 1996 - three years before the current Road Traffic Act, but has not been repealed to this day. No changes were made to it for 10 years, but from 2006 to 2015 it was amended 9 times. This shows that a series of governments (it has been adopted and should therefore be repealed by a decree of the Council of Ministers) continue to recognize it as a legal act regulating road traffic.
Moreover, the Road Traffic Act itself has a special provision that stipulates that "the by-laws on the implementation of the repealed Road Traffic Act shall remain in force insofar as they do not contradict this Act".
By 2021, no one had taken the intolerable state of the highway speed limit to court. Then it was approached by a 56-year-old man from Dimitrovgrad, who demanded that the court annul the provision of the regulations, which sets the speed limit for driving on the highway at 120 km/h, because it violates the principle of the rule of law.
In November 2021, a three-member panel of the SAC declared his appeal inadmissible, accepting that the result he aimed for - annulment of the situation in the regulations - was practically achieved, because the provision of the regulations had lost force from the moment when the Road Traffic Act in 2002 increased the highway speed to 130 km/h.
However, the man appealed and a five-member panel of the Supreme Court accepted that the man had a legal interest in requesting the annulment of the article from the regulations and sent the case back to the first instance for a new ruling. On April 20, 2022, another three-member panel of the court struck down the provision in question from the rules.
An appeal against this decision was filed by the Council of Ministers, but now a five-member panel of the Supreme Court rejected it. The judges found unfounded the government's contention that with the adoption of the 2002 amendments to the Social Security Act, the rule provision was tacitly repealed and should not apply. The SAC recalls that according to the Law on Normative Acts, normative acts are repealed, amended or supplemented by an express provision of the new, amending or supplementing act. In this case, it is indisputable that there is no express text that would completely cancel the regulation. The changes in the Road Traffic Act for the maximum speed on the highways do not lead to the cancellation of the provision in the regulations, and in the interest of the rights of the citizens, the explicit cancellation of the text is required.
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