On 21 December 2017, Bulgarian lawmakers submitted a bill to parliament for amendment of the Administrative Procedure Code (“APC”), which proposes establishing a new court within Bulgaria’s judicial system.

The АPC regulates procedures for issuing and challenging decisions made by the administrative authorities and secondary legislation. The code contains the rules that govern the administrative authorities, and all appeals against decisions and actions of the administrative courts. That administrative courts deal with claims for state liability underscores their importance.

Currently, first instance administrative courts and the Supreme Administrative Court handle administrative cases. The Supreme Administrative Court has two functions: it rules on challenges to decisions by the most influential administrative authorities (ministries, governmental agencies, Bulgarian National Bank, etc.), and it acts as second and final instance court on appeals against decisions of the first instance administrative courts.

The bill proposes easing the heavy caseload of the Supreme Administrative Court with the creation of a new court: the Central Administrative Court.

This new chamber shall assume most of the powers of the Supreme Administrative Court in its functions as a first instance court.

The new Central Administrative Court shall have jurisdiction on cases regarding the decisions and actions of a specific number of authorities, including: (i) secondary legislation enacted by the Council of Ministers, ministers, and municipal councils; (ii) decisions of state and executive agencies; (iii) decisions of the Bulgarian National Bank; and (iv) other cases pertaining to laws falling under its jurisdiction.

Made up of panels of three justices and based in Sofia, the Central Administrative Court shall be a final instance court for rulings regarding state-liability claims, but it may act as a second instance court on other cases.

Parliament has not yet voted on this bill, which may prove controversial during debate. Lawmakers may view the Central Administrative Court as a specialized court, which the Bulgarian Constitution does not allow. Critics may also see this bill as an attempt to concentrate important cases against governmental bodies under a single roof. However, if adopted, this amendment would significantly change Bulgarian administrative law and procedure.