The Supreme Bar Council of the Republic of Bulgaria adopted the amendment of Ordinance 1 of 2004 on the minimum amounts of attorney fees (the “Ordinance”, promulgated in the State Gazette by issue 64/2004, as amended form time to time), which has been also promulgated in the State Gazette issue 84/25.10.2016 and has entered into force.
On the basis of Article 36 of the Bar Act, the Supreme Bar Council, which is the governing body of the autonomous attorney legal profession, delegated powers to adopt subordinated secondary legislation regulating the minimum amounts payable for legal services rendered by attorneys in Bulgaria. Pursuant to the same Article 36, attorneys are not allowed to provide services for remuneration in violation of the minimum levels regulated by the Ordinance of the Supreme Bar Council. Attorneys may agree higher fees, but not lower than those provided by the Ordinance.
The amendment promulgated in State Gazette 84 provides several key changes in the levels of minimum attorney fees:
• The Ordinance now explicitly states that the minimum amounts of attorney fees ought to be paid for each court instance.
The amendment expressly regulates that if the case is remanded to be reconsidered by a previous court instance, the minimum amounts of attorney fees are payable for the procedure on that instance as well. Moreover, the Ordinance now clarifies that the basis for calculation of the minimum amounts for civil cases concerns each submitted claim. If several claims are consolidated into one application/statement of claim, the level of minimum attorney fees payable should be determined considering the type and amount of each claim, and not on the basis of the overall amount.
• With regard to procedures under civil cases, the Ordinance provides for various fee levels depending on the particular band where the amount at stake in the case can fall within.
The value bands are below BGN* 1000; between BGN 1000 and BGN 10 000; between BGN 10 000 and 100 000; between BGN 100 000 and BGN 1 million; between BGN 1 million and BGN 10 million. The amendment introduces changes in the formulae for calculation of the fee levels within the particular bands so that: for cases with value between BGN 10 000 and BGN 100 000, the fees should be in the approximate region of 3% of the amount beyond BGN 10 000; for cases with value between BGN 100 000 and BGN 1 million, the fees should be in the approximate region of 2% of the amount beyond BGN 100 000; for cases with value between BGN 1 million and BGN 10 million, the fees should be in the approximate region of 1% of the amount beyond BGN 1 million; for cases with value beyond BGN 10 million, the fees should be in the approximate region of 0.5%, with various additional amounts depending on the particular value of the claim.
• The amendment introduces for the first time a particular level of fees chargeable for complaints to the European Court of Human Rights, and applications for preliminary rulings by the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Breaches of the rules on minimum attorney fees may lead to disciplinary action, including loss of attorney rights for up to one and a half years; a subsequent breach may lead to sanction of loss of attorney rights for up to 5 years.
* Please note that the fixed rate of exchange is EUR 1= BGN 1.95583