The anticipated amendments to the Bulgarian Protection of Competition Act (PCA) implementing Directive 2014/104/EU on the rules governing actions for damages for competition law infringements have finally been promulgated on 3 January 2018. Although there has been some delay in fully implementing this directive, the new procedural rules have been and are available for all actions for damages of which a national court was seized after 26 December 2014.
The new rules concern actions for damages resulting from violations of antitrust rules (i.e. anti-competitive agreements, and abuses of dominance). Damages incurred from unfair competition (e.g. damaging the reputation of competitors, misinforming customers, etc.) and abuses of stronger bargaining position remain outside of the scope of these amendments.
As a general rule, applicable to all breaches of competition rules, individuals and legal entities that have incurred damages are entitled to compensation, even if the victims were not direct targets of the violation. Also, any final decision of the competition authority, is binding for the court seized with the claim for damages with respect to the facts of the committed infringement and its perpetrator.
Although there have been few cases in recent years where damages have been sought for infringement of Bulgarian competition rules, actions are now expected to increase with the passage of the PCA amendments. The aim of these amendments is to facilitate the hearing of actions for all victims of anti-trust practices, whether the damages they suffered were direct or indirect. It remains to be seen, however, whether or not these new rules will speed up the average court time for the hearing of such disputes.