On February 11th, 2014 the Bulgarian Judges Association (BJA) carried out the kick-off meeting of the project “Establishing and Еnabling Еnvironment for Independent Judiciary in Bulgaria”. The latter represents a 30-month long initiative funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The BJA is implementing the abovementioned project in partnership with the Dutch Association for the Judiciary (The NVvR, the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Rechtspraak).


His Excellency Mr. Tom J.M. van Oorschot and Prof. Lazar Gruev – President of the Supreme Court of Cassation were official guests at the opening of the event. In their welcoming remarks they expressed their satisfaction of the judicial cooperation between the professional organizations of the two countries. Ms. Tanya Marinova – Chairperson of the Managing Board of the BJA and Ms. Maria van de Schepop – Chairperson of the NVvR also welcomed the event’s participants.  
The project places the emphasis on:
1. Transfer of information, knowledge and best practices pertaining to:
•    case flow management, handling and overcoming difficulties in the work of individual judges;
•    measures that ensure a balanced workload and address the problem of excessive workload;
•     the impact of budgeting;
2. Comparative analysis/study of proceedings in disciplinary cases involving judges in the Kingdom of Netherlands with a view to seeking solutions to and overcoming the deficiencies in disciplinary proceedings conducted in Bulgaria in order to align them to international standards for judicial independence;
3. Comparative analysis of the legal framework in the Netherlands and Bulgaria in regard to:
•    criteria for professional evaluation of the work of the judge;
•    criteria for evaluation of the quality of the court act.
3. Development of a system for the training of judges and law students in a new subject - Structure and organisation of the Judiciary - that will cover a broad range of topics relating to the legal status of judges, the possibilities for career development and the strengthening of their independence, including on the basis of better personal competency and understanding of their professional standing, the requirements for the administration and management of courts and the boundaries of agreeable supervision over their functioning;  
4. Exchange of best practices pertaining to the European Arrest Warrant

"... it is important to reiterate that the three-day time period for candidate nomination envisaged in the procedural rules, particularly when coinciding with the Christmas and New Year holiday period, creates an impression of opaqueness. Furthermore, even if discussions between the political parties represented in Parliament had taken place on the need to reform the Inspection Service of the judiciary and on the particularly high professional standards, which the selected nominee must satisfy given the nature of the high judicial office, the debate surrounding the selection process has yet again remained outside public scrutiny..."

To read the Letter please  click  h e r e

The refugees and "Friends of the Refugees" were awarded with the title “Human of the year” 2013 in the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) awards for the contribution to and protection of human rights.This is the sixth year of the awards.

Judge Kalin Kalpakchiev, member of the SJC, was awarded a runner-up prize for his tireless work for a more transparent judicial system, solving the issue with the random allocation of cases, as well as for taking critical positions on the problem of career development policy of the SJC that lacks public confidence. Last but not least, judge Kalpakchiev was encouraged for creating a blogspot which serves as an access point for citizens in the debate pertaining to the SJC activities.

In November 2013 BJA commenced the implementation of the project titled “Establishing an Еnabling Еnvironment for Independent Judiciary in Bulgaria”, financed by the Government of the Kingdome of the Netherlands. The NVvR, the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Rechtspraak (in English Dutch Association for the Judiciary) is a partner of the BJA in this project. The timeframe of the latter is 31 months and the total amount of the grant is € 150, 390.

Among others the project aims at:
1. Transfer of information, knowledge and best practices pertaining to:
- case flow management, handling and overcoming difficulties in the work of individual judges;
- defining a standard for the workload of individual judges and the courts they work for;
- measures that ensure a balanced workload and address the problem of excessive workload;
- the impact of budgeting;

2. Comparative analysis/study of proceedings in disciplinary cases involving judges in the Kingdom of Netherlands with a view to seeking solutions to and overcoming the deficiencies in disciplinary proceedings conducted in Bulgaria in order to align them to international standards for court independence;

3. Development of a system for the training of judges and law students in a new subject - Structure and organisation of the Judiciary - that will cover a broad range of topics relating to the legal status of judges, the possibilities for career development and the strengthening of their independence, including on the basis of better personal competency and understanding of their professional standing, the requirements for the administration and management of courts and the boundaries of agreeable supervision over their functioning;  

4. Commencement of a joint comparative analysis of the legal framework in the Netherlands and Bulgaria from the point of view of the ECHR, the guiding documents of the Venice Commission and the CCEJ with regard to:
-    the status of judges and the rules giving rise to the commencement, alteration and termination of legal relations in this regard;
-    criteria for the evaluation of the professional performance of judges;
-    criteria for evaluation of the standard of quality of court judgments;
-    grounds and procedure for the levying of disciplinary sanctions;
-    analysis of the work of the ISSJC - legal framework and practice - defining the boundaries of external oversight over the work of judges without undermining their independence; opportunities to use such oversight mechanisms as a tool to raise the efficiency and effectiveness of justice administration at the level of individual courts;
-    practical rules for cooperation between the courts of EU Member States in individual cases;

5. Comprehensive handbook that will accumulate the analysis from a practical point of view of the outcomes 1, 2 and 3. will be disseminated in and could be used as a training course by law schools and NIJ.

6. Court management handbook based on analysis and systematic overview of the rules currently in force in Bulgaria.

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