Below are listed the legal descriptions and information about the profiles included in the procedures, currently monitored by the Transparent Judicial Appointments Initiative. Find us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
SUPREME JUDICIAL COUNCIL
The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) is a permanent body representing the Judiciary and securing its independence. It shall set the composition and work organisation of the Judiciary and manage its business without interfering with the independence of the bodies thereof.
The SJC consists of 25 members. 11 of them are elected by the parliamentary quota and 11 by the professional quota, which is divided into the following sub quotas: judges (6 members), prosecutors (4 members) and investigators (1 member). The President of the Supreme Court of Cassation, the President of the Supreme Administrative Court, and the Prosecutor General are ex officio members of the Council. The elected members of the SJC shall serve a term of five years. They may not be re-elected immediately upon expiration of the said term.
Eligibility for the 22 non-ex officio members of the SJC is limited to jurists of high professional standing and moral integrity who have practised law for at least 15 years.
The meetings of the Council are presided over by the Minister of Justice, who attends the meetings in a non-voting capacity. The Council is divided into several permanent commissions. At present, there are 11 commissions into the Council. More information about the structure of the Council and its functions is available under section “Documents”: Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria and Judiciary System Act.
Official website of the SJC: http://www.justice.bg/
The TJAI covered the key elections of new SJC held in September, 2012. You may find more details about the procedure and the related profiles here, available in Bulgarian. BILI was also the NGO to organize for the first time in Bulgaria online hearings of the nominees from the professional quota.
The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Bulgaria is a politically independent authority, guaranteeing the supremacy of the Constitution. It is independent from the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary.
Although its decisions, which revoke laws and other acts have political consequences as the political aims for their adoption is being defeated, the Constitutional Court is not and should not be referred to as a political court.
The Constitutional Court provides binding interpretations of the Constitution; establishes unconstitutionality of the laws and other acts passed by the National Assembly, as well as of the acts issued by the President; settles competence disputes between the National Assembly the President and the Council of Ministers, as well as between the bodies of local self-government and the central executive authorities; rules on the consistency of international treaties concluded by the Republic of Bulgaria with the Constitution prior to the ratification of any such treaties, as well as on the consistency of any (domestic) laws with the universally recognized standards of international law and with the international treaties whereto Bulgaria is a party; rules on disputes concerning the constitutionality of political parties and associations, the legitimacy of the election of the President and Vice President, the legitimacy of the election of Members of Parliament; rules on impeachments entered by the National Assembly against the President or the Vice President.
The Constitutional Court consists of 12 Justices, whereof one-third are elected by the National Assembly, one-third are appointed by the President, and one-third are elected at a general meeting of the judges of the Supreme Court of Cassation and the Supreme Administrative Court.
The term of office of the Constitutional Court Justices is nine years. They may not be reelected upon expiration of this term. The composition of the Constitutional Court of each quota is being renewed every three years.
Only jurists of high professional standing and moral integrity who have practised law for at least 15 years are eligible to the office.
More information about the status of the Constitutional Court is available under section “Documents”: Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria andConstitutional Court Act.
Official website of the Constitutional Court: http://www.constcourt.bg/
In 2012, TJAI covered the appointment and election of Constitutional Court Justices. You may find the procedure and the prepared profiles here, available in Bulgarian.
PRESIDENT OF THE SUPREME COURT OF CASSATION
The Supreme Court of Cassation exercises supreme judicial supervision as to the accurate and equal application of the laws by all courts. The Supreme Court of Cassation is the supreme judicial instance in criminal and civil cases. Its jurisdiction covers the entire territory of the Republic of Bulgaria.
The Supreme Court of Cassation consists of three divisions – criminal, civil and a commercial. It is headed by a president, elected by the Supreme Judicial Council (SCJ) with a 7-year term of appointment. Each of the three divisions is headed by a chairperson.
The president of the Supreme Court of Cassation organizes the business of the Court, convenes and chairs the sessions of the general assemblies of the divisions and the plenum of the Court, proposes the adoption of interpretative judgments and decrees, carries out personally or assigns to other Supreme Court justices inspections of the organization of business of the appellate judges. At the end of each six-month period, the president prepares and submits to the SCJ, to the Inspectorate at the SCJ and to the Minister of Justice summarized information about the institution, progress and termination of cases. The president may also second district or appellate judges to sit at the Supreme Court when a seat is vacant and may not be filled by another Supreme Court justice. The presidents also appoints the chairpersons of chambers in each of the three divisions.
The Supreme Court president prepares the annual report on the application of the law and the business of the courts and submits it to the Supreme Judicial Council by April 30 of each year.
The Supreme Court president is an ex officio member of the Supreme Judicial Council.
The President of the Supreme Court of Cassation is appointed and removed by the President of the Republic on a motion by the Supreme Judicial Council. Pursuant to the Constitution, nominations for the position can be made by no less than one-fifth of Supreme Judicial Council members, as well as by the Minister of Justice. Nominations shall be made at two consecutive sessions of the SJC following the one at which the SJC adopts a resolution to open the election procedure.
The procedure for the election of a Supreme Court of Cassation president was opened by a SJC decision of July 24, 2014. Two candidates were nominated by SJC members – Polina Panova and Tanya Raikovska, both Supreme Court of Cassation justices.
More information about the powers, the statute and the functions of the Supreme Court of Cassation president is available in section “Documents”: Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria and Judiciary System Act.
Official website of the Supreme Court of Cassation of Republic Bulgaria: http://www.vks.bg/index.html
BILI prepared profiles of the nominees for the post. You may review the procedure and profiles of candidates here, available in Bulgarian.
The Prosecutor General is appointed and removed by the President of the Republic on a motion by the Supreme Judicial Council. Just like the Presidents of the Supreme Administrative Court and the Supreme Court of Cassation, he/she serves for a single term of seven years. The Prosecutor General is one of the ex officio members of the Supreme Judicial Council along with the President of the Supreme Administrative Court and the President of the Supreme Court of Cassation.
According to the Constitution, nominations for the position can be made by no less than one-fifth of Supreme Judicial Council members, as well as by the Minister of Justice. Nominations shall be made at two consecutive sessions of the SJC following the one at which the SJC adopts a resolution to open the election procedure.
The powers of the Prosecutor General include exercising supervision as to legality and providing methodological guidance regarding the work of all other prosecutors in the system. He may approach the Constitutional Court with request. All prosecutors and investigators are subordinate to the Prosecutor General.
The SJC opened the election procedure for a new Prosecutor General on November 8, 2012 with the adoption of procedural rules thereof. Boris Velchev, the former Prosecutor General, ended his mandate pro-term, as he was appointed for member of the Constitutional Court by the President. More information about the powers, the statute and the functions of the Prosecutor General is available in section “Documents”: Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria and Judiciary System Act.
Official website of the Prosecution Office of Republic Bulgaria: http://prb.bg/main/bg/
BILI prepared profiles of the nominees for the post. You may review the procedure in Bulgarian here
HEAD OF NIS
The investigation bodies in Bulgaria are the National Investigation Services (NIS), the regional investigation departments and the investigation department at the specialised prosecution office. Specialised departments for investigation on cases of particular factual and legal complexity, on cases for crimes committed abroad, on requests for legal aid, as well as for investigation on cases in other circumstances, as provided for by law are created at the NIS. NIS shall be managed by the Prosecutor General directly or through Director (Head of the National Investigative Services).
The Head of the National Investigative Services (NIS) carries a term of 5 years with possibility of reelection. Appointed by the Supreme Judicial Council, he is also the Prosecutor General's deputy in investigations by law. The Director provides administrative and organisational direction to the investigating magistrates and officers at NIS, as well as methodological guidance to the investigating magistrates from regional investigation departments at regional prosecution offices
For Head of the NIS shall be elected magistrate (judge, prosecutor or investigator) with at least 12 years of service, high professional and moral qualities and a positive overall score "very good" or "good" from his/her last periodic evaluation. Nominations for the post can be made by no less than one-fifth of Supreme Judicial Council members, as well as by the Minister of Justice.
Official website of the National Investigative Services: http://www.nsls.justice.bg/
On November 1, the former Head of NIS Boyko Naidenov was reelected by the SJC for another mandate. BILI prepared profiles of the two nominees for the post – Boyko Naidenov and Evgeni Dikov, prosecutor at the Supreme Prosecution Office of Cassation. You may see the full profiles in Bulgarian here
Court presidents at the Bulgarian courts are appointed by the Supreme Judicial Council with a resolution.
The election procedure concerning candidates for Court Presidents is initiated by the Supreme Judicial Council no earlier than three months and no later that one month before the term of office expires or within 7 days following the pre-term termination of a Court President mandate. The term of office is 5 years.
Only judges with high professional and moral characteristics and a positive overall score "very good" or "good" from the last periodic appraisal shall be appointed as Court Presidents.
The procedure for election of Court Presidents is conducted by the Supreme Judicial Council through an interview. Before the interview the candidates for the post prepare concept thesis of the strategic management of the respective judiciary body, which they defense at the interview. During the interview an assessment of the candidates is made concerning: their professional competence as a judge on the basis of the periodic appraisal conducted thus far; their management competence as administrative managers; their moral characteristics on the basis of a substantiated opinion of the Commission for Professional Ethics and Prevention of Corruption.
No later than 7 days prior to the interview NGOs, higher education institutions and scientific organisations may submit opinions about a candidate to the Supreme Judicial Council, including questions to be asked. The submitted opinions and questions shall be published on the website of the Supreme Judicial Council no later than three days from the date of submission. During the interview, the members of the Supreme Judicial Council may also ask questions on the basis of those opinions.
The Supreme Judicial Council adopts a resolution on the appointment of the candidate who has satisfied the legal requirements, such resolution being also based on the assessment of the candidates’ managerial skills. The resolution is subject to appeal.
More information about the appointment process of Court Presidents is available under section “Documents”: Judiciary System Act.
The TJAI covered several appointments of Chief Judges in the period 2011-2012. You may find the procedure and the prepared profiles here, available in Bulgarian.
INSPECTORATE WITH THE SJC
The Inspectorate with the Supreme Judicial Council is a body within the judicial system. It was created in 2007 with the adoption of respective changes in the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria (art. 132a). The Inspectorate is an independent authority examining the operation of the judicial authorities without affecting the independence of judges, jurors, prosecutors and investigating magistrates in the performance of their functions.
The Inspectorate consists of an Inspector General and ten inspectors. The Inspector General and the inspectors are independent in the performance of their functions and shall be subservient only to the law.
The Inspector General is elected by the Parliament by a majority of two-thirds of its members for a term of five years. The inspectors are elected by the Parliament for a term of four years. The Inspector General and the inspectors may be re-elected, but not for two sequential terms of office.
Lawyers with a high professional and moral characteristics with at least 12 years of legal service record can be elected as Inspector General and inspectors. Nominations are made by Members of Parliament. Nominations should be supported by a written statement of detailed reasons and accompanied by a written consent of the nominee. Among the documents submitted by the nominees are written concepts regarding their work and property statements which are being published thereafter.
The nominees are being heard by an election committee at an open session. The committee shall put forward the nominations to the National Assembly by drafting a report on the professional qualities and integrity of the candidates. The nominations shall be put to the vote based on the report, which shall include conclusions concerning: the minimum legal requirements to take the post; the availability of data that calls into question the candidate's integrity, qualification, experience and professional qualities; the specific background, qualities and motivation for the post concerned; the public reputation of the candidate and the public support for them.
The Inspectorate acts on its own initiative, on the initiative of citizens, legal persons or state bodies, including judges, prosecutors and investigating magistrates. It presents an annual report on its operation to the Supreme Judicial Council. The Inspectorate shall approach other state bodies, including the competent judicial authorities, with alerts, proposals and reports. It makes the information on its activity public.
More information about the appointment process of Chief Judges is available under section “Documents”: Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria and Judiciary System Act.
The TJAI covered the appointment of an inspector at the Inspectorate in April 2012. You may find the procedure and the prepared profile here, available in Bulgarian.
The legal statute of magistrates is based on the principles of independence, immunity and tenure. After five years of service, a judge, prosecutor or investigative magistrate gets a tenure. The purpose of this institute is to guarantee independence of all magistrates in the exercise of their functions.
After five years of service, an overall evaluation of the magistrates’ performance is made and he/she gets tenure based on a subsequent decision of the Supreme Judicial Council.
At present, BILI has compiled as a pilot initiative profiles of three judges who were about to get a tenure. These judges voluntary took part in the initiative by providing assistance and vast information for the preparation of their profiles. All three judges are working at the Sofia City Administrative Court. You may find the procedure and the prepared profiles here