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Bulgaria

Author: Valentina Bineva

IV. Sectoral Collective Redress Mechanisms

A.Injunctive Collective Redress - Article 186-187 of CPA

Scope/ Type

a.Sectoral

The approach is sectoral. The provisions regarding collective redress mechanisms for injunctive relief are applicable for infringements of legal rules on any of the following:

-consumer contracts negotiated away from business premises and distance consumer contracts, unfair business to consumer commercial practices, sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees, unfair terms in consumer contracts, timeshare, long-term holiday product, resale and exchange contracts (Article 186 (2) p. 1 of CPA);

-package travel, package holidays and package tours (Article 186 (2) p.2 of CPA);

-television broadcasting activities (Article 186 (2) p.3 of CPA);

-advertising of medicinal products for human use (Article 186 (2) p.4 of CPA);

-electronic commerce (Article 186 (2) p.5 of CPA);

-consumer credit (Article 186 (2) p.6 of CPA);

-distance marketing of consumer financial services (Article 186 (2) p.7 of CPA);

-services(Article 186 (2) p.8 of CPA); or

-any other legislation that protects the interests of consumers (Article 186 (2) p. 9 of CPA).

b.Injunctive or compensatory or both

Articles 186-187 of CPA are regulating injunctive collective redress - namely for the cessation or prohibition of actions or commercial practices in detriment of collective interests of consumers.

There are attempts in Bulgarian legal literature for defining the term "collective interest of consumers". Some authors consider it as an abstract interest of consumers in fair functioning of the market and compliance with legal provisions aimed at securing such fairness.

Furthermore, legal authors also share the view that the detriment of consumers' interest exists not only when consumers have actually suffered damage, but also in the cases when their interests have been put at risk.

Both Bulgarian case law and legal literature accept that this action can also take a form of a claim for a declaratory judgment, for instance for declaring of certain unfair contract terms as null and invalid. In support of this view is also the procedural rule of Article 379 (2) of CCP explicitly allowing collective actions for declaratory judgement.

B.Compensatory Collective Redress - Article 188 of CPA (group action)

Scope/ Type

a.Sectoral

The approach is sectoral, namely, the compensatory collective redress is applicable to all cases of damages to collective consumers' interests - Article 188 (1) of CPA.

b.Injunctive or compensatory or both

Article 188 of CPA is regulating compensatory collective redress - for damages to the collective interests of consumers. In Bulgarian case law, it is clarified that the existence of several (or even a significant number) individual claims which are joint together only because the damage suffered by individuals is identical does not represent a collective interest. A collective action for damages to the collective interest is not a claim for damages of each of the affected individuals, but of a certain group of injured parties, specified by the plaintiff in the statement of action.

According to the case law, the provisions of Chapter 33 "Collective Actions" of CCP are applicable also to the action based on Article 188 of CPA.

C. Compensatory Collective Redress - Article 189 of CPA (representative action

Some legal authors do not qualify this action as a type of collective redress mechanism, but consider it as a means of individual redress very similar to joined individual civil cases. This view appears to be reasonable; nevertheless for the sake of completeness this action for protection of multiple consumers' interests has been included in the current study.

A collective representative action can be filed provided that the following prerequisites are met:

-Consumers who have suffered damage are identified and their count is at least two;

-Individual damage suffered by consumers must have been caused by the same producer, importer, trader or retailer, as well as has to have derived from the same infringement;

-A consumer association must have explicitly been granted by consumers with a power-of-attorney for bringing a claim for damages and for litigation representation.

-This redress mechanism is aimed at collecting damages to individual interests of at least two identified consumers, represented in the litigation by a consumer association. The legal basis is Article 189 of CPA.

Scope/ Type

a.Sectoral

The approach is sectoral, namely the compensatory redress is applicable to all cases of damages to two or more consumers - Article 189 (1) of CPA.

b.Injunctive or compensatory or both

Article 189 of CPA is regulating compensatory redress - for damages to multiple consumers.

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