On 3 January 2018, the act implementing the Private Damages Directive into Bulgarian law was published in the Official Gazette (the "Act"). The Private Damages Directive was adopted to facilitate efforts by victims of cartels and abuses of dominant positions to claim compensation, by harmonizing the relevant procedures throughout the EU. The Act will, therefore, cover cartels and abuse of dominance, but will not apply to damages resulting from breaches of Bulgarian specific competition provisions, such as abuse of a stronger bargaining position, or from unfair competition practices.
In line with the Private Damages Directive, Bulgarian law recognizes the binding effect on civil courts of the sanctioning decisions of the European Commission and of final sanctioning decisions of the CPC, and introduces a rebuttable presumption that cartels cause damage, both of which will facilitate damage claims.
Other key points concern the collection of evidence enabling the court to order the parties or a third party to disclose evidence which is within their control. The Act amends the applicable limitation periods for bringing actions for damages and introduces a joint and several liability of the infringers, expressly stating that the injured party has the right to demand full compensation from any of them.
Following the entry into force of the Act, companies will be more exposed to claims for antitrust damages. Any individual – i.e. any natural or legal person – may claim damages for a loss caused by an infringement of the respective provisions of the European and / or Bulgarian competition law before the competent civil courts.