JUDICIAL REFORM INITIATIVE
Developing Judicial Reform Program for
Policy Workshop, July 1, 1999
On July 1, 1999, a Policy Workshop was held at
the Center for the Study of Democracy. Forty-one participants
attended: members of the Steering Committee and of the task forces,
Bulgarian and international experts, representatives of state and
international institutions. The revised first version of the draft
Program for the Development of the Judicial Reform in Bulgaria was
presented and discussed.
Dr. Ognian Shentov, President of the Center for
the Study of Democracy, opened the Workshop. He emphasized how
important the prepared document was for the further development of
the judicial reform in Bulgaria. He also stressed the main
directions in the future activities of the Initiative.
Introductory remarks were made by: Ms. Ekaterina
Mihailova – MP and Chair, Parliamentary group of UDF, Mr. Vassilis
Maragos – Economic Advisor in the European Commission Delegation in
Bulgaria, Mr. Claes Eklundh – Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman of
Ms. Ekaterina Mihailova highly appraised the
present work of the JRI and the prepared draft Program. She
highlighted the significance of the mechanisms that has developed
for cooperation with state institutions. Thanks to the Initiative,
the Parliament and the Government have already started discussing a
number of proposals and ideas that are a major part of the draft
Mr. Vassilis Maragos expressed the support of
the European Commission Delegation in Bulgaria on the work done by
the JRI for the development of the Program for the Judicial Reform.
He denoted the necessity of clear definition of the priorities of
the Program and the stages for their implementation.
Mr. Claes Eklundh presented the role of the
institution Parliamentary Ombudsman in Sweden. Its main function is
to control public administration and to protect citizens’ rights
Ms. Nelly Koutzkova, coordinator of the task
forces, introduced the main concepts in the draft Program in the
context of the present development of the reform.
The discussion proceeded along two major
- Elaboration of the legal basis of the reform: civil,
administrative, and penal law and procedure;
- Training of magistrates, improving work of court
administration, and opening the judicial system to society.
Within these two panels, the leaders of the task
forces outlined the most important questions and the ones subject
to discussion in each of the respective parts of the draft
Suggestions and recommendations were expressed
by: Mr. Vladislav Slavov – Chair of the Supreme Administrative
Court, Mr. Roumen Nenkov – Chair of the Second division of the
criminal college, Supreme Court of Cassation, Ms. Kina Choutourkova
and Mr. Borislav Belazelkov – Justices in the Supreme Court of
Cassation, Dr. Ekaterina Trendafilova – Associate professor in
Penal Law, Sofia University Faculty of Law, Ms. Kapka Kostova –
Chair of Sofia Regional Court, Ms. Elena Avdeva – Chair of
Blagoevgrad District Court, Mr. Vassil Chobanov – LLM, Journalist
in Radio Free Europe, Dr. Silvi Chernev – Attorney-at-law and
Deputy Chair of the Court of Arbitration with Bulgarian Chamber of
Commerce and Industry, Mr. Roumen Georgiev – Deputy Director of the
Specialize Investigation Agency, Mr. Vassilis Maragos from the
Delegation of the European Commission in Bulgaria, Mr. Vladimir
Kanev – expert in the Ministry of Justice and European Legal
Integration, Ms. Galina Mikhlin – representative of the World bank,
Throughout the discussion, a number of opinions
were voiced: for the necessity of further training in the
magistrate profession (Dr. S. Chernev); for the legal requirements
for practice and qualification in taking a certain position, and
for the establishment of the institution "assistent judge"; (Mr.
Vl. Slavov); for creating an atmosphere lacking conflicts in the
work of magistrates (Mr. R. Georgiev); for the pros and cons
regarding specialized courts. Mr. Roumen Nenkov started discussing
the problem of lawyers’ behavior during a court process. He shared
his opinion on introducing constitutional and legal possibilities
for suspending magistrates. He also paid special attention to the
necessity of better material work conditions for magistrates. Mr.
Vl. Kanev focused on the insufficient financial resources for the
latter, as well as on the lack of coordination between the
different units of the system. The main aim of the reform, in his
opinion, has to be a "fast and inexpensive legal process." Mr.
Maragos highlighted the need of developing a national system that
would allow the magistrates to build their career and would
guarantee their independence. He also pointed out the need of high
qualification and internal specialization on different problems.
His opinion was that an adequate system for evaluating the
magistrates’ work was essential. The problems of the reform have to
be rated: starting with the minimal requirements, but prioritizing
them. On behalf of the World Bank, Ms. G. Mikhlin highly appraised
the draft Program and the activity of the JRI Community.
The draft Program is published in a brochure in
1000 copies. It is distributed to non-profit organizations,
professional unions, state institutions, the media, experts, and
citizens, with the aim of getting their opinion and specific
proposals for amendments. The final version of the Program will be
developed after taking into account the remarks and suggestions
given by all interested parties.